No More Mr. Nice Pie

No More Mr. Nice Pie
Drawing by Retsu Takahashi

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Annual Rolling of the Hamantaschen

Sound the trumpets- it is the annual Rolling of the Hamantaschen. How fortuitous that Pi/pie day is this week as well because boy, do I need to hone my math skills. Purim provides a perfect opportunity to do so beginning with multiplication. One full sheet pan can accommodate symmetrical rows of triangles running 4 across by 6 down. Mrs. Delbaum, my 3rd grade teacher at P.S. 104 in Far Rockaway is to be credited for teaching me my multiplication tables, so no worries, I got this. It’s when we get to the geometry portion of the program that I may need some extra help.

History paints Queen Esther as a resourceful gal, and I bet she was crafty too. Seems to me if she were running things in Hamantaschen Central this week, she might approach it a little differently. While channeling my inner Esther (think Lucy Van Pelt) it occurs to me we're going about this the wrong way. Traditionally, Hamantaschen are small, diminutive. They start out as a 3" inch circle and after being gussied up with a dollop of filling (I'm an apricot fan but poppy seed and Nutella are none too shabby, either) they are folded in triangular fashion. Tasty, yes. Quick to execute? Not particularly, unless you are folding them by the hundreds and you start to develop a rhythm. After the first few sheet pans your fingers begin to take flight and your mind starts to wander. Leading me to think that maybe Hamantaschen really yearn to be something bigger, more deserving than a two bite wonder. I think it warrants a larger plate at the sweet table. After all, this dough has yielded delicious results in other guises. What seems to separate a circle from a triangle from a half-moon appears to be simple geometry. Personally, I never found anything simple about geometry. Here's the full disclosure: if this were a blog about cake, I would tell you that the only way I managed to pass Coach Apsley's geometry class was by baking him a checkerboard cake. True. But this is about Hamantaschen so I'll save that for another time. 

The truth is the rich, buttery dough lends itself to both hand pies and galettes. Just maybe this can be classified as a Proof; one circle of Hamantaschen dough folded in half equals a hand pie, therefore (isn't there a symbol for this? I'll check with one of those math games kids from Seattle to confirm) this very dough folded in a larger triangle that can serve several people equals a Haman-tarten. With a nod to Esther, I am going to tuck the poppy seeds into the dough and add some orange zest which should go nicely with the apricot filling. Esther was Royalty after all, so let's add a little extra bling after the tart is baked with a light brush of jam to make it shine. If Esther has a good PR person, the next thing you know, she will be featured in the Spring issue of MARTHA, demonstrating how to easily and beautifully prepare her tart. It will be touted as the next Good Thing. See- this is the sort of Crazy that happens to a person as she toils for 8 hours making Purim pastries for the masses. My mind begins to wander yet again, wondering if there's a special Purim cocktail I don't know about.  Because by the time I finish my work day, it will be well after 5 o'clock somewhere...

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