This year Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, begins at sundown on the second day of December. All over the world, Jewish families will gather to light the menorah, spin the dreidel, and enjoy a festive dinner. And while latkes (oil fried crispy potato pancakes) served with either applesauce or sour cream are the holiday snack most commonly associated with Hanukkah around the world, sufganiyot pronounced as suf-GHAHN-ee-yote are one of the best-known desserts of the holiday.
This highly addictive sweet treat is fried in oil reminiscent of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days instead of one, according to the Hanukkah story, in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. This sweets addict dream donuts are filled with either jam, vanilla, chocolate or butterscotch cream, or anything that one can only imagine are one of the official and tastiest emblems of Hanukkah.
As for the history of where these sweet and irresistibly puffy sufganiyot donuts were born some sources say that they take its origin in Spain, adapted from a similar treat, the sopaipilla. On the other hand, one can argue that the sopaipilla was borrowed from the Jews.
Either way, sufganiyot recipe is an easy one to adopt and as the proof to that almost every culture has one or another variation of donuts in their traditional culinary variation. As donuts aren’t really all that hard to make. I admit however it does take a fair amount of time but in life, the sufganiyot recipe is no more complicated than a bread one.
And, guess what, your kids will absolutely love to help you out in the kitchen for this sweet recipe. So do get them involved as it’s super fun cutting the dough circles to fry (well I do this part) and watch them puff right in front of your eyes! Oh, don’t forget about squeezing the yummy filling into them as it’s super fun figuring out how much each sufganiyah (plural from sufganiyot) will fit before popping up open, yeh… we get quite a few ones like that, but honestly, it’s so much fun I cannot blame Max and Eva for doing it.
And lastly sufganiyot donuts are so addictively delicious your family will devour the hot, crispy on the outside and delicately puffy on the inside sufganiyot until their fingers are sticky with a sweet filling and their mouths are coated in powdered sugar. Latkes? Who needs latkes?
active dry yeast 2 1/4 tsp
4 cups of all-purpose flour plus 1/2 cup more for dusting the working surface
1/4 cup of sugar plus 1 tbsp to start the yeast
2 eeg yolks of large egg
1 large egg
1 cup of warm whole milk or water
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
6 tbsp of (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp of finely grated orange zest (optional)
2 tbsp of fresh orange juice (optional)
1 tbsp of brandy (optional)
1 1/2 cups of any of your favorite jam
Vegetable oil (for frying; about 8 cups)
Sugar powder for dusting
- Let’s start by making the dough first as it has to proof for at least an hour-hour and a half. Combine yeast, 1 tbsp of flour, 1 tbsp of sugar, and 2 tbsp of warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer or if making the dough by hand like my granny used to do it combine all of the above in a big mixing bowl.
- Let stand until yeast starts to foam. That shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. If no foam observed disregard the mixture and run to the closest grocery store for the fresh yeast.
- Now on low speed with the dough hook mix in the two egg yolks, whole egg, milk (or water), salt, vanilla, 2 cups of flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, orange zest, orange juice and brandy if using the last three until well combined, about 2 minutes. If working by hands you’ll get the same results by mixing the dough with a sturdy wooden spoon or silicone spatula.
- Once all are well combined add 6 tbsp of butter 1 tbsp at a time, mixing well after each addition. Any small lumps of butter will get worked into the dough when more flour is added so don’t be too worried if you cannot work every teeny weenie piece worked into the dough.
- After you’re done with butter start gradually adding the remaining 2 cups of flour (keep in mind that flour does vary from brand to brand and you may not need all of it so adding it GRADUALLY is the key) kneading the dough with hook or by hand until new portion of flour is mostly combined.In the end, you should end up with the dough that’s soft, smooth, and shiny. It takes about 5-7 minutes to get to this result if I use my KitchenAid and about 15 minutes if I work on my biceps and triceps kneading it by hand.
- Now one of the important steps so don’t skip this one even if you have a stand mixer or food processor, don’t be lazy and turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough no longer sticks to your hands, about 5 minutes. You can add a bit more flour if needed, but I warn you now: don’t add more than 1/2 cup or your dough will be too heavy and sufganiyot won’t rise as high.
- Transfer the dough into a greased mixing bowl, turn to coat so it won’t dry out, and cover with a clean kitchen towel or food wrap (for the last one don’t forget to pock a tiny hole for ventilation).
- Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. I just heat up my stove to 170F then turn it off and leave the bowl there. Offside note: I let the dough rise at least twice this ensures that my sufganiyot will be extra puffy. For the second time it only takes 20 minutes or so for the dough to rise.
- Once the dough is nice and puffy gently ”deflate” it and shape it by hand into a ball.
- Lightly dust the working surface and a cutting board (alternatively you can use a baking/cookie tray lined with parchment paper) with flour.
- Now divide the dough into 2 halves and put one half aside covered with a kitchen towel so it won’t dry out.
- Take the second half and on a lightly floured surface roll it out until it’s about 3/4″ (7-8 mm) thick.
- Using a cup, mug, drinking or wine glass cut out rounds of dough. Offside note: twist the ”cutter” of choice to cut the dough as this will strengthen the dough rounds edges so the dough will puff when frying.
- Transfer the dough rounds to the prepared floured surface and cover loosely with a kitchen towel.
- Do the same with the other dough half.
- Combine all the cutout scraps of dough, gently knead it and reroll it ONCE only. As the more you’ll roll the dough the less puffy it’ll be.
- Let the dough rounds rise until almost doubled in size, about 30-40 minutes.
- While the rounds are rising prepare the frying equipment. I’m lucky (or maybe not so lucky depending on how you look at it) to have a kitchen frier which comes very handy when I make sufganiyot or chebureki (Slavic hand pies with meat). However, it’s not a must have, you can simply use a medium saucepan or dip heavy bottom frying pan fitted with a thermometer filling it with vegetable oil to measure 4″ from the bottom up.
- After you’ve set up you frying equipment heat the oil to 350 F. If using sauce or frying pan heat it over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350F.
- While your dough round are rising and oil is heating up work on the filling. Pulse your jam of choice in a food processor or use a blender until smooth. This will make it easier to pipe the filling into sufganihot.
- Scrape jam into a piping bag fitted with 1/4″ tip and set aside until ready to use. Alternatively, if you aren’t a proud owner of such a handy-dandy piece of donut filling equipment you can do the following: using a toothpick make a shallow hole in the donut, then use a plastic ziplock bag with a 1/4″ opening cut diagonally from 1 corner.
- Now working in batches, fry dough rounds until golden, about 1 minute per side. Don’t overcrowd! Or the round would stick to each other and won’t rise well, and it’ll be hard to turn them over without damaging the others. The should swim freely in oil.
- Once fried on both sides transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet or cutting board and let cool slightly about 1-2 minutes before filling.
- Lastly, the best part of making sufganiyot- filling them up with some delicious jelly! Insert the tip of piping bag into the top of sufganiyot and gently fill until jam just pokes out of the hole.
- Pile your sufganiyot up high on a big serving plate and dust with powdered sugar. I also like to drizzle some chocolate and/or caramel syrup over them.