Yeast-risen pastries for Purim

While the obvious choice might be hamantashen, there are other options.

A purim treat 521 (photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
A purim treat 521
(photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
There is something special about yeast-leavened pastries, or, in Hebrew, ugot shmarim.
Halfway between pastry and bread, their aroma, taste and tender texture make them hard to resist, whether for breakfast with coffee or for afternoon tea. Indeed, when I visit a pastry shop, yeast cakes usually tempt me more than heavily frosted layer cakes or gooey, sticky cupcakes.
If you want to make yeast-risen pastries for Purim, the obvious choice might be hamantashen. Bubbe, called “America’s Favorite Online Grandmother,” writes in Feed Me Bubbe (with Avrom Honig), “Sometimes hamantaschen are made with regular cookie dough. I think they are so much better when made the traditional way, with a yeast dough.”
Some people make hamantashen from halla dough, and in fact, yeast dough may be the kind that was used to make the first hamantashen. According to Gil Marks, author of Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, “the original hamantaschen were made from pieces of kuchen, a rich yeast dough.”
In addition to hamantashen, you can make other filled pastries using yeast dough with your favorite Purim fillings, such as poppy seed, prune, date or jam. Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg, authors of Inside the Jewish Bakery, bake yeast cakes in a variety of shapes. For their Hungarian poppy-seed or walnut rolls, they brush a sheet of yeast-leavened coffee cake dough with melted butter, spread it with the filling and bake it like a jelly roll. To make fruit-filled buns, they set the filling on circles of dough, enclose it and seal the pastry to form a ball; they bake the buns with a topping of rich, crumbly streusel.
You can also spread the filling on the rolled-out dough, roll the pastry into a log or strudel shape, cut it into slices, and bake them like cinnamon rolls, with their filling showing in a spiral pattern.
If you put the filled slices in a cake pan so that they are just touching, they will come together as they bake, forming a babka. Kim Boyce, author of Good to the Grain, makes chocolate-filled babka this way, using a rich halla dough made with kamut flour and a double dose of butter.
Another perfect-for-Purim yeast cake is kugelhopf, which I learned to make in Paris. Baked in a fluted tube pan, this coffee cake studded with almonds and raisins is a favorite among the Jews of Alsace.
Yeast dough is flexible and easy to adapt to your taste. To make a parve yeast dough for her cinnamon buns, Paula Shoyer, author of The Kosher Baker, moistens the dough with soy milk and enriches it with parve margarine and canola oil.
When preparing the lemon-glazed poppy-seed yeast cakes in the recipe below, it’s up to you whether to make them dairy or parve. Both the dough and the filling can be made with butter, margarine or oil.
The writer is the author of 1,000 Jewish Recipes.
POPPY-SEED LEMON ROLLS These lemon-glazed sweet rolls make a pleasing Purim treat. You can bake them ahead and freeze them. If you like, replace 1⁄2 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour.
100 gr. (3.5 oz. or 7 Tbsp.) unsalted butter or margarine or 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil 7 gr. (1⁄4 oz.) active dry yeast (about 21⁄2 tsp.) 3 Tbsp. warm water (41ºC to 46ºC or 105ºF to 115ºF) 1 Tbsp. sugar 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp. salt 3 large eggs 1 large egg yolk 2 tsp. grated lemon zest Poppy-seed Filling (see recipe below) Lemon Glaze (see recipe below)
If using butter or margarine, cut it in 12 to 14 pieces and let it come to room temperature.
In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over water; add 1⁄4 tsp. sugar. Let stand 10 minutes or until foamy. Stir yeast mixture.
Put flour into bowl of mixer; make a well in center. Add salt, remaining 23⁄4 tsp. sugar and whole eggs. Mix ingredients in center of well briefly with dough hook of mixer. Add yeast mixture.
Mix at low speed until mixture comes together to a dough, pushing in flour occasionally.
Scrape down mixture. Add egg yolk; beat until blended. Continue beating on medium speed about 12 minutes or until dough is very smooth.
Add lemon zest and butter pieces. Beat on low speed, scraping down dough often, just until butter is blended in. Dough will be soft.
Lightly oil a medium bowl. Place dough in oiled bowl; turn dough over to oil surface. Cover with damp towel or plastic wrap; let dough rise in a warm draft-free place about 11⁄2 hours or until nearly doubled in bulk. Gently turn dough over several times to knock out air. Return to bowl.
Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Prepare filling. Refrigerate 1 hour to overnight.
Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. On a cool, floured surface, roll out dough to a 25-cm. x 38-cm. (10-in. x 15-in.) rectangle, flouring often. Spread filling over dough, leaving a 2.5-cm. (1-in.) border on one long side. Roll up dough from opposite long side like a jelly roll. Pinch roll of dough along edges to seal. Trim ends. Cut a 2.5-cm. (1-in.) slice of rolled dough.
Using rubber spatula, set slice on baking sheet, with more narrow side of slice (side that was pressed with knife) facing down. Slice remaining dough; set slices about 5 cm. (2 in.) apart on sheet. Work quickly so dough will not become too soft. Press any uneven slices to an even round shape.
Let cakes rise uncovered in a draft-free area about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare Lemon Glaze.
Preheat oven to 205ºC (400ºF). Bake rolls in center rack of oven for 12 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 175ºC (350ºF). Bake 10 to 12 more minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Transfer to a rack; cool slightly. Spread with glaze while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 15 sweet rolls
POPPY-SEED FILLING Lemon zest and juice add a fresh tang to this sweet filling.
11⁄4 cups poppy seeds 3⁄4 cup water 3⁄4 cup sugar 28 gr. (1 oz. or 2 Tbsp.) butter, margarine or vegetable oil 1⁄3 cup finely chopped candied orange peel 2 Tbsp. lemon juice 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
Grind poppy seeds in a spice grinder. In small saucepan combine poppy seeds, water and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Add butter, candied orange and lemon juice. Stir over low heat about 5 minutes or until filling is thick and well blended.
Remove from heat. Stir in grated lemon zest.Refrigerate before using.Makes about 12⁄3 cups
Spread this glaze on sweet rolls while they are still warm. The glaze is especially good with pastries that have citrus flavors in the dough or filling.
You can reheat the rolls after glazing them.
3⁄4 cup powdered sugar 28 gr. (1 oz. or 2 Tbsp.) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 to 2 Tbsp. lemon juice 1 to 2 tsp. grated lemon rind
Sift powdered sugar. Beat butter until very soft and smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. If glaze is too thick to spread, add a little more juice, 1 tsp. at a time. Stir in grated lemon rind.
Glaze becomes firm if refrigerated; bring back to room temperature before spreading. If it is still too thick, set bowl of glaze above a pan of hot water so it softens.
Makes enough for 15 sweet rolls