Burning Haman

by Betty Thompson

body Esther was a beautiful Jewish maiden taken as the favorite queen by the King of Persia. The story tells how she cleverly saved her people from the evil plan of the king's favorite minister, Haman, who was power hungry and crafty.

Haman gave a decree for all to bow down before him. Mordecai, a Jew who sat in the courts of the king and had secured many privileges for his people, refused. Haman was furious and plotted the destruction of Israel, but he did not know that Queen Esther was also a Jew and cousin to Mordecai.

Despite danger to herself, Esther interceded with the king, saving her people. The king, enraged over Haman's plot, ordered his death on the very day that Haman had chosen for the destruction of the Jews.

Haman had chosen the day by casting lots, which was the customary way to select a day for important events. (Purim is the Persian word for this process.) Because the Jews had been spared, Mordecai proclaimed the day one of celebration known as the Festival of Lots or Purim. A lighthearted event with play acting, pranks and the exchange of food gifts, Purim will be observed March 23.

Cooks delight in dealing with the villain Haman by baking Hamantaschen in a hot oven. Hamantaschen (Haman-pockets) are traditionally triangular sweet yeast buns with a poppy seed or prune filling.

Poppy seed filling can be easily made, but it requires grinding the poppy seeds first. An electric coffee grinder works well. Or, purchase a can of poppy seed filling and add one teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel, one tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 cup chopped raisins which have been softened in hot water and squeezed dry.

If poppy seed is not a favorite, use one cup of your favorite jam mixed with about 1/2 cup crushed cookie crumbs such as vanilla wafers to add body.


1 package of yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup warm milk

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup margarine

2 eggs

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

4 cups flour

1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Filling (see choices below)

Dissolve the yeast in water with sugar. In a large bowl, combine warm milk, sugar, salt, margarine, peel and one cup flour. Add yeast, eggs and remaining flour one cup at a time and work into a soft dough. Knead for five minutes.

Oil a large bowl, turn the ball of dough in it to grease the top; cover and place in a warm spot for about an hour to double in bulk. Roll out dough on a floured board to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out four-inch circles. (A lid is a good tool or my favorite is a tuna can with both ends cut out).

Place one tablespoon of filling in the center. Pinch the edges of the circle together leaving 1/2 open forming a cone. Bring the center of the open side to the middle, forming the other two sides of a three-cornered bun. Pinch edges securely. Place well apart on a greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Brush carefully with the egg yolk mixed with water and bake 15-20 minutes at 350o.


No waiting for yeast to rise.

2 1/2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1/3 cup margarine

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Cut in margarine until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Combine milk, peel and egg and pour into the center of the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Knead about 10 times. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut, fill and form as described above. Brush with egg immediately, and bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Poppy Seed Filling

1 cup poppy seeds, ground in a coffee mill

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon margarine

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 cup chopped seedless raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine and cook over low heat, stirring frequently until thick. Cool and fill the dough.

Prune Filling

1 1/2 cups pitted prunes

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped almonds or walnuts

Chop prunes and simmer until tender in just enough water to cover. (This works well in the microwave). The time and water varies according to how moist the prunes are. Add remaining ingredients to make a thick filling. Cool before using.

Betty Thompson has taught cooking locally since 1974.