With its emphasis on oil-fried foods, the culinary traditions of Chanukah are delicious but definitely not nutritious. Of course, in moderation, even the most mouth-watering Chanukah treat can be enjoyed at least once during the eight-day holiday.
In Israel, the traditional Chanukah food is the jelly donut. Recent alterations to the donut, called sufganiyot in Hebrew, have seen caramel and even chocolate filling. But the basic recipe and technique remain the same. While time consuming, the instructions are straight-forward and the results? Mouth-watering!
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more for rolling
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)
- 3 cups vegetable oil+
- 1 cup seedless raspberry or strawberry jam or caramel (dulce de leche)
- powdered sugar
- 10 cc unused medical syringe or baking syringe (for filling the donuts)
1. Combine yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. Place flour in a large bowl, making a well in the center. Add eggs, yeast mixture, 1/4 cup sugar, butter, and nutmeg or cinnamon.
3. Using a wooden spoon, stir to form a sticky ball of dough.
4. On a well-floured work surface, knead the dough for approximately 8 minutes, until it is smooth and soft, and bounces back when poked with a finger. Add more flour as necessary.
5. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a just warmed oven to rise until doubled, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it to 1/4-inch thickness.
7. Using a 2 1/2-inch-round cutter or drinking glass, cut 20 rounds. Dip the edge of the glass or cutter into flour as necessary to ease in the cutting.
8. Cover the rounds with plastic wrap and let rise for another 15 minutes.
9. In a large frying pan, heat oil until a deep-frying thermometer registers 370 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, carefully slip 4 rounds into oil. Fry until golden, about 40 seconds. Turn sufganiyot over; fry until golden on other side, another 40 seconds.
10. Remove the sufganiyot onto a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
11. Once they are cool enough to handle, fill the donuts with jelly or caramel. Fill a syringe with 5-10 cc of jelly. Place the tip of they syringe right inside the edge of the donut. Squirt the filling inside, until you can see it bubbling from underneath the surface of the donut. Be careful not to overfill the donut.
12. Powder each donut with sugar on both sides.
During the final four steps of making sufganiyot, time is of the essence. Filling the donuts while still hot is ideal. If possible, work on your sufganiyot with someone else -- while they fry, you can fill and powder with sugar.
Sufganiyot are best eaten within a few hours of making. Of course, most sufganiyot in my house never make it to the table!
B'teavon! (Bon Appetite in Hebrew)
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