Mar 152011


I turned to my kitchen, took up my measuring cups, and got to work on something delicious.  Rich pastries stuffed with cheese, nuts, or dates.  They’re meant to be eaten on Purim, I guess, because each one hides a sweet or savory filling in the dough (symbolizing how Queen Esther hid her Jewish origins from Ahasuerosh until the time came to plead against the  genocide Haman had plotted).

I must say – this reminds me of the wry joke that goes around the Internet every so often: How do you define a Jewish holiday?

Like this: 1. They wanted to kill us. 2. We beat them. 3. Let’s eat!

Not true for all holidays of course, but close enough, close enough.

So here is what I baked today, adapted from the original recipe.

Ba’aba Beh Tamur – Iraqi Stuffed Pastries for Purim

About 30 pastries

Notes: the original recipe calls for butter. Pareve margarine works fine too. Likewise, it assumes that you’ll be mixing the dough in a mixer. I just beat everything up by hand.

Here in Israel, you can get concentrated essences of rose and orange water. They’re much stronger than the “waters” and I prefer to use them.

I substituted 1 teaspoon freshly-smashed cardamom seeds for the fennel in the recipe because I dislike fennel. Lacking either of those, use 2 teaspoons cinnamon or the zest of 1 lemon. The dough must have something aromatic or it will be too bland.

My filling was almond/pecan, the nuts ground up quickly in the food processor. I’ll include the recipe for date filling as well. Finally, the buttery dough does seem to call for cheese. I’ll suggest alternative cheeses to the original version’s.


For Dough:

1 cube fresh yeast

1 cup warm water

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground fennel seed

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted butter (or marg)

1 beaten egg for glazing

For Almond Filling:

1 cup ground almonds

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon each rose water and orange water or 1/4 teaspoon edible rose and orange essences.


1. Dissolve yeast in water. Add flour, baking powder, fennel or other spice, and melted butter. Mix until you have a soft dough that forms a ball.

2. Cover with plastic bag or damp cloth; allow to rise 1 hour or until doubled.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F – 200°C.

4. Work with a quarter of the dough at the time for convenience. Roll it out 1/4″ thin. Use a large biscuit cutter or glass to cut into 3″ rounds. Brush the rounds with a little water.

5. Mix filling ingredients in a small bowl. Put 1 teaspoon filling in the center of each round and fold it over. Press your fingers down all around the edges to seal, or use the tines of a fork. Brush beaten egg on pastries.

Bake 25 minutes.

Date Filling for about 30 pastries:

8 oz. – 250 grams pitted, finely chopped dates. Here you can get date paste in blocks and that’s better.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon milk

1 egg white

sesame seeds

Combine ingredients in top of a double boiler and cook 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Allow the mixture to cool and roll it into balls for stuffing the pastry. When forming the pastry, place a small ball at the center of each pastry round and pinch the sides upwards to make a closed bundle. Flip over and flatten slightly with the rolling pin. Pierce with a fork in several places. Paint the pastries with an egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake as directed above.

Cheese Filling:

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup mild yellow cheese, grated

1 teaspoon dried, crumbled za’atar, oregano or rosemary

1 finely chopped scallion

1 egg

Combine cheeses, herbs, and egg. Bake pastries as half-circles as in the almond filling.

Too good.


Jan 202010


An irresistible combination of aromas and flavors: orange and fresh pastry. Inspired by the orange trees in bloom all around the neighborhood, I went searching for a recipe featuring the fruit. I found this recipe at Recipezaar.

I made a few adjustments, using margarine to keep the pastry pareve and changing the glaze’s original ingredients. And can I tell you how delicious these tempting little pastries are?

I’d better not.

I want them all for myself.

Orange Rolls

Makes about 30

Ingredients for Pastry

1 package fresh yeast (1/4 oz.)

1/4  cup warm water

1 cup more warm water or milk

1/4 cup margarine or butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 1/2 – 4 cups flour

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup soft margarine or butter

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

Ingredients for Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

4 teaspoons margarine or butter, soft

5 teaspoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Method for Pastry:

1. Dissolve the yeast the 1/4-cup of water, in a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl, mix the cup of water or milk, marg or butter, sugar, salt, and egg. Use a mixer for this if you have one; it’s easier and less messy.

3. Stir in the yeast mixture.

4. Add the flour. You should have a soft dough; one you can knead but will still be a little tacky.

5. Knead till smooth – 5 minutes or so. You can knead it in its mixing bowl.

6. Sprinkle flour over the surface of the dough, turn it over, and sprinkle more flour over it. Cover the bowl.

7. Let the dough rise for about an hour or until doubled and light.

8. Punch it down and divide it in half.

9. Roll each half into a 15 x 10″ rectangle (I just judged by eye and made a fat rectangle).

10. Mix the filling ingredients until smooth. Spread half on each rectangle. Spread it thinly and smoothly, covering all the rectangles.

11. Roll each rectangle up, starting from either long edge.

12. Cut each big roll into 15 pieces. It’s a little tricky, but don’t worry if the little rolls pull apart a little. You can quickly re-shape any awkward-looking ones.

13. Place the rolls into baking pans that have either been greased or covered in baking paper. I recommend lining the pan with baking paper, as the filling leaks out a bit in baking, and makes removing the finished rolls difficult.

14. Cover and allow it to rise 45 minutes or till doubled in volume. About 25 minutes into the second rising time, preheat the oven to 375° F –  190°C.

16. Bake  for 20 – 25 minutes. Keep a sharp eye out – they should be a golden brown, not a deep brown. The heavenly smell in the house will announce doneness.

17. Mix the glaze ingredients. It won’t look like there will be enough to glaze all the rolls, but there will be. Spread the glaze generously over the rolls while they’re still hot.

18. Refrain from devouring everything.

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