Israel’s Secret Hanukkah Doughnut Recipe

In her new cookbook, “Traditional Jewish Baking: Retro Recipes Your Grandma Would Make…If She Had a Mixer,” popular Israel-based cookbook author and TV personality Carine Goren offers what she calls “the best versions of timeless and traditional Jewish baked goods.” The enticing and accessible volume contains over 100 dessert recipes, from Ashkenazi classics such as cheesecake and black and white cookies to Israeli favorites like sufganiyot (Hanukkah doughnuts, below) and halva. Here’s what she has to say about the recipe:

This is a secret recipe in many pastry shops I know. Apparently, it is based on some grandmother’s recipe that goes way back, so far back, in fact, that I couldn’t find an actual name to go with it (or to give the well-deserved credit to). As per tradition, it is also very delicious and happily inexpensive (which would explain why the pastry shops are so willing to sell it). Even homemade, these doughnuts are like perfectly round, soft and fluffy pillows. Don’t be offended if your family and guests don’t believe they are not store-bought.

Hanukkah Doughnuts (Sufganiyot)

Makes 30 doughnuts

For the Doughnuts
7 cups (1kg) all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons (17g) active dry yeast
1¼ cups (300ml) lukewarm milk
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
3 eggs
3½ ounces (100g) butter, softened
2 tablespoons (30ml) brandy
Zest of ½ lemon

1 ½ quart (1.5L) vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Strawberry jam, for filling
Powdered sugar, for dusting

1) To make the doughnuts, in a mixer fitted with the kneading attachment, add about half of the flour, and mix in the yeast. Add the milk, granulated sugar, eggs, butter, brandy and lemon zest, and mix for 1 minute, until the batter is homogenous and loose.

2) Gradually add the remaining half of the flour, mixing at low speed. Turn the speed up to medium, and knead for another 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until the dough doubles in bulk, 1–2 hours.

3) Transfer the dough to a very lightly floured work surface, and make 30 egg-size balls. (How to divide by 30? Simple. First, divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Now roll each part into a long “sausage.” Cut the sausage in half, and divide each half into 5 parts.) Put the balls on a greased sheet of parchment paper, or on individual parchment paper squares (see “Grandma Knows Best”). Cover with greased plastic wrap, greased side down, to prevent drying.

4) Set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, 1–2 hours.

5) In a wide pot, heat the oil to 325º F (160º C) on a deep-frying thermometer. Deep-fry the doughnuts, 4 or 5 at a time, for about 2 minutes on each side, until brown. If you use the paper squares method, you can put the doughnuts in the oil with them. Remove the cooked doughnuts with a spider or tongs, and put them on a paper towel to soak up the oil. Place the jam in a pastry bag fitted with a long, narrow tip. Inject the doughnuts with jam, generously dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Grandma Knows Best
Here is a sweet secret I learned from Chef Oren Giron to ensure that the dough balls do not lose their shape when transferred to the pot: Put the dough balls on precut, individual parchment paper squares and let them rise. When they are ready to be fried, simply pick them up with the paper and put them in the oil (with the paper). No need to fuss with the paper; it will separate from the dough on its own after a few seconds of frying. Use tongs — and extreme caution — to take them out.

Reprinted from “Traditional Jewish Baking: Retro Recipes Your Grandma Would Make…If She Had a Mixer,” by Carine Goren. Goren is a cookbook author and host of popular Israeli baking shows. She lives in Israel.

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