Photo credit: Rachel Ringler
Prep Cook Yield Ready In
30 minutes 12 minutes 3-4 dozen 42 minutes

The Best Hamantaschen Hack Ever? Cake Mix!

It all starts with a box of Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix.

If baking hamantaschen makes you nervous, you’re not alone. It can be finicky and challenging to make the dough and roll and shape it into perfectly formed triangular stuffed cookies. I’m here to make your lives easier with the ultimate hamantaschen hack, taught to me by my friend and accomplished baker Suzy Applebaum.

When Suzy asked me if I was planning to make hamantaschen this year I replied, “Absolutely not. I never have and I probably never will.” In response, she told me her secret ingredient, one that simplifies the process so that even I can make hamantaschen without fear.  

Seven years ago, Suzy, an avid collector of Judaica, bought a mid-century box of Jewish recipes off Etsy. Most of the fifty recipes inside, written on 3”x5” index cards, were for classic 1960s American dishes like jello molds and casseroles. But one gave her pause: Hamantaschen made with Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix. Eureka!

Suzy has never looked back. The cake box dough is not too sticky, and the consistency and texture make for hamantaschen that are “perfect every time.” The best part is that, unlike most hamantaschen recipes, this dough doesn’t have to be chilled.

This hack sounded non-threatening enough for even a hamantaschen virgin like me. I rolled, shaped, and stuffed as instructed, then handed the finished jam-filled product out to family and (socially distanced) neighbors. Thumbs up all around!  And nobody guessed that a cake mix was involved.

This recipe is based on a recipe from Duncan Hines.

Ingredients

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • filling of your choice (prune, poppy seed, canned cherry or blueberry pie filling, or preserves)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  2. With an electric hand mixer, combine cake mix, flour, oil, eggs, and water until blended. Gather up the crumbly dough in your hands and form into a ball. Using a pastry cutter, cut the ball into four sections.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll one of the sections ⅛” thick. Cut into 2 ½-3” rounds using a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass. For fluted edges, use a biscuit cutter.
  4. In the center of each circle, place 1 tsp filling. Cover the unfilled rounds with a damp dish towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
  5. To shape: Take the left side of the circle and fold to the right, covering approximately one-third of the circle. Repeat with the right side, folding to the left, making sure that the top of the right-side fold forms a tip roughly resembling a triangle on top. Take the bottom (which should still have a circular appearance) and bring it upward to produce the third side of a triangular shape.  When you bring the bottom up, fold the newly created flap on the lower left under the left side of the pastry dough, but leave the newly created right side flap to remain over the right side of the triangle. Each side of the triangle should now have one corner that is tucked under and one that is folded over. (Shaping the hamantaschen in this way will prevent any of the sides from opening while in the oven.) Pinch each corner to complete the shaping.
  6. Place folded hamantaschen on a lightly greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

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