Hanukkah will have come to its end by this evening, and like many Jewish holidays it comes with a host of Jewish dishes to celebrate the occasion. Since the miracle of Hanukkah revolves around the lasting of oil for eight nights when there was only enough for one, suffice it to say that there are a number of wonderful, oil-fried dishes to celebrate the miracle with. In fact, almost anything battered or covered in dough can be fried.
What better way is there to celebrate than frying dough itself?
Israeli donuts, or sufganiyot, are an awesome, simple and sweet treat that get you into the holiday spirit and allows you to eat donuts at the same time. Who could turn away the opportunity to eat donuts as part of a celebration?
If you’ve ever made any pastry or bread recipe, then making sufganiyot will probably give you flashbacks to the last time you handled a stand mixer with a dough hook. If you’re new to making a bread or pastry recipe, making sufganiyot is a great start since they’re so easy and only require a few ingredients.
Although this recipe calls for a specific amount of flour to make your dough, you’ll want to use your judgment to ensure you have supple and sticky dough that will turn into sufganiyot without much fuss. If it appears your dough is not “coming together” into a sticky, but still cohesive dough, add a bit of flour and let it stir in the stand mixer for another minute. Only once the dough has achieved its perfect consistency should you let it rest for an hour to rise. When it has roughly doubled in size, then roll out the dough over a flat and surface liberally dusted with flour.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when frying anything is the choice of oil you want as well as the risks involved. You can fry these donuts in any cooking oil of your choice – even butter if you’ve got a lot of it. Still, cooking with hot oil will certainly end in a less-than-stellar way if you’re not careful.
Most recipes call for a Dutch oven over a hot stove at around 350 degrees F and several inches of oil. Placing a pot full of burning hot oil right in front of you is a dangerous idea. When it also means wasting at least a quart of oil then it’s unnecessary too.
Instead, consider frying in a large pan with an inch or so of oil, allowing you to use just a few cups of oil and to still ensure that crisp outside, but soft and tender inside, which is the trademark of fried foods. The donuts may need to be turned over a few times to ensure an even frying, front and back.
Sufganiyot are also filled with jellies, preserve, custards of your choice, ranging from grape or strawberry jam to even chocolate pudding – pretty much anything you can fit inside of your donuts.
Although many recipes call for adding the filling after frying, I would recommend that you add the filling before frying. Frying the filling and dough at the same time heats up your jelly or custard, adding a much better texture to the final product. However, remember your sufganiyot will puff up will frying, and if you don’t seal your donuts well enough they will open and spill filling while frying.
Want to literally spice things up? It’s easy to put a personal spin on the classic donut hole. If you’re a fan of the colder weather and the fall season, then consider adding some typical autumnal seasoning to your sufganiyot. Try experimenting pumpkin spice, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg, to name a few such spices. Add a little extra sugar for a sweeter and more decadent recipe, or even add cocoa powder right into the dough for an even richer experience. Remember that adding any puree will result in a soggier dough, which means will have to add flour to compensate.
Whether it’s to celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah or not, the next time you have a craving for donuts, I recommend you skip the Tim Horton’s or Dunkin Donuts and instead fry your own. You can certainly make them in a couple of hours from start to finish, and the result is a fresh, delicious treat with a crispy crust, tasty warm filling and fluffy texture.
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra on hand
1/3 cup of sugar
1 packet of active, dry yeast
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon of fine salt.
1/2 cup of tepid milk.
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 cups of oil, or enough for 1-2 inches of oil in a cast iron pan.
Powdered sugar for dusting finished donuts
1. Mix in stand mixer bowl: flour, salt, and sugar. Add milk and egg yolks, and then attach dough hook and stir for 1 minute on medium-low. Chop and toss in small cubes of butter. Mix on medium-high for five minutes until sticky and supple. Add more flour if mix appears too wet.
2. Move dough into a large, oiled bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
3. Roll out dough onto a well-floured surface to about a 1/8 inch thickness. Use a 2-inch round cutter and stamp out as many dough rounds as possible, re-rolling the scraps of dough.
4. Seal filling in dough round with the aid of either an egg wash or melted butter.
5. Heat frying pan or cast iron skillet with about 1 to 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees F on medium to medium-high heat. Fry donuts for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
6. Garnish with powdered sugar and serve.