Hanukkah | December 24 to 31

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We’re delighted to have Jodi Harris as our guest blogger for Hanukkah. She is a wonderful and fearless home cook and an especially excellent baker.

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in 165 B.C. by the Maccabees after the Syrians desecrated it. It is not one of the most important Jewish holidays, but has become prominent in our culture because of its proximity to Christmas. We mark this holiday by lighting the menorah at sundown in our home, playing dreidel, sharing chocolate gelt (coins), exchanging small gifts, and indulging in brisket and decadent fried foods. We make sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) for the same reason we make potato latkes, fried in oil to honor the miracle in the Temple that one night’s worth of oil lasted eight.  

For my family, sufganiyot are a new tradition. A few years ago, when we were invited to our neighbor’s annual Hanukkah celebration (a cozy gathering with food, libations, and the magnificent chaos of children playing), I asked what I could bring. As I am known amongst friends as a recreational baker who insists on bringing sweet carbs to any occasion, she replied “doughnuts.” I scratched my head, wondering why someone would make a specific ask for something people don’t really make at home. Always up for a culinary challenge, I accepted the flattering challenge and googled “jelly doughnuts and Hanukkah” to learn that this is indeed a Jewish “thing.” And so a new-old tradition entered my family tradition, and is now something my boys and neighbors anticipate each year as they lick their lips.

Sufganiyot, or Jelly Doughnuts

Adapted from Martha Stewart

After trying out several sufganiyot recipes, we found this one to be straightforward, consistent, and DELICIOUS.

2 tbsp active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110℉)

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar, plus more for rolling

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 large eggs

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

2 tsp salt

3 cups canola oil, plus more for bowl

Approximately 1 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

1 cup raspberry jam (we like seeded)

In a small bowl, combine yeast, water, and 1 tsp sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 10 min.

Place flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add eggs, yeast mixture, 1/4 cup sugar, butter, nutmeg, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir into a sticky dough. On a floured work surface, knead until dough is smooth, soft, and bounces back when poked with a finger, about 8 min. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with clean dish cloth. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, 1 to 1½ hours. Tip: place beneath under-cabinet lights for added warmth.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to ¼-inch thick. Using a 2½-inch round cutter or drinking glass, cut about 20 rounds. Cover and let rise in warm place for 15 min. Spread sugar on a shallow plate.

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In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil (a few inches deep) until a deep-frying thermometer registers 360-370℉. Using a slotted spoon, carefully slip 3-5 rounds at a time into oil. Fry until golden, about 40 seconds. Turn doughnuts over; fry until golden on other side, another 40 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, then roll in sugar while warm.

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Fill a pastry bag fitted with a metal piping tip with jam and squeeze about 2 tsp jam into each doughnut. When sufficiently filled, each doughnut will have some weight to it.

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Eat as soon as possible or at least the same day–they are way more delicious when fresh!

Makes approximately 24 doughnuts

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