Fractal Hamentaschen and Other Mathematical Baking

Among the more unusual arenas in which to construct fractals—objects with self-similar (or at least approximately self-similar) features on all scales—is in the kitchen.

For example, one might consider creating a fractal generalization of a hamentasch, a traditional Jewish pastry that consists of dough in the shape of a triangle along with a filling in the center.

A Sierpinski hamentasch.
A Sierpinski hamentasch. Challenge: Can you measure the fractal dimension of this hamentasch?


A few years ago, a recipe was published on a Seattle Local Food blog for making Sierpinski Hamentaschen, which provided a solution to the ages-old problem of how to create a hamentaschen without having a dough:filling ratio that is too high. This was especially a problem at the ‘eat’ stage of the algorithm.

It turns out that the solution is surprisingly simple: take advantage of
mathematical knowledge about the Sierpinski triangle and create fractal hamentaschen.

Thankfully, mathematical baking is an active area. My own institution,
University of Oxford, even held a mathematical bake-off last fall.

(Thanks to investigator Karen Daniels for alerting us to the Sierpinski