Hanukkah is in my favorite season. Yes, you read that right: I love the wintertime! The snow, the big sweaters and, of course, the holiday baking make a perfect combination for gathering and celebrating.
My earliest memory of Hanukkah is watching “A Rugrats Chanukah” on VHS and helping my mom grate potatoes by hand for latkes, before we discovered the magic of food processors.
Ever since the Miracle of Light, nearly 2,200 years ago, Hanukkah has been celebrated with fried foods.
Latkes were always fried during Hanukkah at my home. We ate doughnuts at some point during the holiday, but it was never a Maybruch tradition to make them from scratch.
Fast forward 20 years, add in my passion for baking, a segment dedicated to baking with me at Jewish Rhody Media, and a desire to bring our audience the classic holiday dessert I knew they would be asking for, and I made sufganiyot just in time for Hanukkah.
Sufganiyot were first baked in central Europe during the late Renaissance. Today, they can be found in bakeries all over the world. You can prepare the perfect sufganiyot every time with a little courage, a handy fire extinguisher (frying is no joke) and a simple recipe with easy-to-follow directions, like this one from Jenn Segal at onceuponachef.com.
Hungry for more? Keep following “Baking with Lisa,” a regular feature in the print and online editions of Jewish Rhode Island that explores the rich and tasty confections of the Jewish diaspora.
Have a baking question? Want me to make your family recipe? Feel free to email me at email@example.com. And check out all my baking videos, at Jewishrhody.org/baking-with-lisa.
LISA MAYBRUCH (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the manager of adult programs at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. Her occasional series, “Baking with Lisa,” appears in Jewish Rhode Island and online at Jewishrhody.org/baking-with-lisa.
Recipe courtesy Once Upon a Chef with Jenn Segal
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes, plus 1 to 2 hours for the dough to rise
1 cup warm water, heated to about 110°F (see note)
1 tablespoon instant/rapid-rise or active dry yeast (note that this is more than 1 packet)
3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for coating
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus about 2 quarts more for frying
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1 cup jam or jelly (or custard, Nutella, pudding, pumpkin butter, apple butter, dulce de leche, etc.), optional
Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, confectioners' sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine and set aside.
Add the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of oil, and vanilla to the water/yeast mixture and whisk with a fork until combined.
Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir with rubber spatula until the dough comes together. It should be a bit sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (no need to clean it first) and let the dough rise on the countertop until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper and dust heavily with flour. Generously dust a clean countertop and your hands with flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the counter and dust the dough with flour. Pat the dough into 1/4-in-thick rectangle (it should be about 10 x 12-inches in size), making sure the bottom doesn't stick and adding more flour to the counter and your hands as needed. Using a pizza wheel or very sharp knife, cut the dough into 24 two-inch squares and transfer to the floured baking sheet, leaving a little space between the squares. Sprinkle the squares lightly with flour.
Add enough of oil to a large Dutch oven or heavy pot to measure about 2 inches deep and heat over medium heat to 350°F. (If you don't have a candy/deep-fry thermometer, drop a 1-in cube of bread in the oil; if it takes about 1 minute to get golden brown, the oil is at the right temperature.)
Place 6 dough pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes, flipping halfway through frying. Adjust the heat, if necessary, to maintain the oil temperature between 325°F and 350°F. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the donuts to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining donuts.
When the donuts are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to puncture the side of each to form a pocket in the center. Place the tip of a squeeze bottle or piping bag into the pocket and squeeze 1 to 2 teaspoons of jam or jelly inside. (Alternatively, if you don't have the right tools or just don't want to bother, serve the filling on the side.)
Using a fine sieve, dust the donuts generously with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm.
Note: Warm water helps activate the yeast. The temperature doesn't need to be exact so no need to use a thermometer; just try to get it about the temperature of bath water. (If you place your hand under the stream of water in the faucet, it should feel hot but you should be able to leave your hand there without it stinging.)