Every year a few weeks before Purim I start to feel a little Jewish guilt.
I don’t particular enjoy making hamantaschens, and since the kids started middle school, I stopped making them altogether. Truth be told, I don’t really have much patience for making any sort of cookies.
I’d also love for the kids to celebrate Purim without eating so many cookies and sweets.
So, what’s a Jewish mother to do (besides feel guilty)?
Here’s the good news: by going back to my old Jewish cookbooks, I recently found something wonderful, something that solved my Purim conundrum.
Purim Poppy Seed Pie
This is not the traditional poppyseed cake/roll that I remember loving from my childhood. Nor is it a light lemon poppy seed pound cake. It’s more like a dense custard pie. I was intrigued by the fact that the pie contains no flour so it’s gluten free, and besides the sugar, for a dessert, it’s not all that unhealthy. Besides, March is National Nutrition Month, so we are trying to do our part to eat cleaner at home. (This pie is certainly healthier than most Purim cookies.) I did, however, go a little crazy with the whipped cream…
It may not fit so neatly into a Purim basket, but it sure does take the edge off the Jewish guilt.
Purim Poppy Seed Pie by Molly Lyons Bar David from The Israeli Cookbook: What’s Cooking in Israeli’s Melting Pot*
(My daughter and I loved this pie. The boys in the family, however, liked it but would have preferred a more traditional poppyseed cake.)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 pound ground poppy seeds
1 tablespoon of rum (I left this out.)
1 cup milk
6 eggs separated
butter and flour for pan (I only buttered the pan.)
rum flavored sugar (I left this out)
Mix 3/4 cup of the sugar with the poppy seeds, rum (if using) and milk. Cook for 20 minutes in a double boiler, over boiling water. Cool the mixture. Mix the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat a little, and then beat into the poppy seed mixture. Beat the egg whites, until stiff, with the remaining sugar and fold in. Butter a large spring pan generously and sift enough flour on top to cover the butter. Gently pour in the filling and bake in a 350 oven for about an hour. Cool and serve with the toppings if desired.
Queen Esther didn’t want to eat anything that wasn’t kosher at the court of King Ahashuerus. She apparently ate a lot of peas, beans, nuts and seeds. Poppy Seed dishes were supposedly her favorite.
*The Israeli Cookbook was first published in 1964. Bar David was a food columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the author of the column “Diary of an Israeli Housewife,” that appeared in Hadassah Magazine. Bar David got the idea for The Israeli Cookbook when she was a culinary advisor for El Al Airlines and had been collecting old Jewish recipes at all the European stops.
I also found a wonderful flourless and gluten free poppy seed cake from the blog Chocolate and Zucchini. The addition of almond meal and almond butter makes it more like a traditional cake. (The boys were quite happy with this version.) You can get the recipe here.