When you think of Hanukkah nosh, you think latkes: delicious fried potato pancakes with dollops of apple sauce or sour cream. But did you know that jelly doughnuts, known as sufganiyot, are a traditional Hanukkah treat in Israel? Follow the recipe below from Judy Bart Kancigor’s Cooking Jewish to make about 3 ½ dozen of these popular pastries:
Pnina Shichor’s Sufganiyot
½ cup plus scant 1 cup warm water
(105 to 110 degrees F)
3 packages active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, beaten
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
Canola or corn oil, for frying
Jam (any flavor)
- Preheat the oven on the lowest setting for 15 minutes, and turn it off.
- Pour the ½ cup warm water into a very large (at least 6-quart) bowl. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve it. Then add 1 teaspoon of the sugar, stir, and set the mixture aside until bubble, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Stir the scant 1 cup water, salt, oil, remaining sugar, and eggs into the yeast mixture. Add 3 cups of the flour, and mix. Gradually knead in the remaining flour until the dough is spongy and elastic but still feels slightly tacky. Remove the dough and oil the bowl (no need to wash it). Turn the dough in the bowl to coat it all over with oil, and loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rise in the turned-off oven until it nearly reaches the top of the bowl, about 2 hours.
- Punch down the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is ¼-inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or glass, cut out the rounds of dough. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and set them aside to rise, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Pour oil to a depth of 1 inch into an electric frying pan (preferred), deep fryer, or large, heavy skillet and heat it to 365 degrees F.
- Dip your fingers in flour, and lift up a round of dough. Move it back and forth between your two middle fingers to stretch the center of the round quite thin without tearing it. This will be the depression for the jam.
- Quickly drop rounds in the hot oil, depression side down—a few at a time, without crowding. Cover the pan and fry until the doughnuts are golden brown but not dark, about 30 seconds. Quickly turn them, cover the pan, and fry until the other side is golden brown, 30 seconds more. Drain the doughnuts on both sides on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough.
- Fill the depressions with jam, and dust the doughnuts with confectioners’ sugar. These are best when eaten warm. They don’t keep well, but no matter. You won’t have any leftovers.