To a Jewish child in the United States, Hanukkah means parties, potato pancakes (latkes) and presents. To his cousin in Israel, it is the time to enjoy fluffy doughnuts filled with red jam.
The sufganiyot, or doughnuts, that originated in central Europe -- and are prepared from Romania through Hungary, Austria and Germany to Alsace in France -- have become widespread in Israel because many of the pastry chefs there are Austrian and Hungarian.
Indeed, the common Hebrew word used for pastry shop is "konditoria," from the German konditorei. Sufganiyot are lighter than American doughnuts and don't have holes. Two types of sufganiyot are prepared in Israel, the classic type made with yeast and a quick version made with baking powder. At Hanukah, the yeast version, freshly made, is sold by all the bakeries.
Other popular flavorings for these doughnuts without holes, besides the brandy used in this recipe, are vanilla, grated lemon rind, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Servings: 12 doughnuts
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 2 envelopes (1/2 ounce total) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 cups flour, plus 2 tablespoons more if necessary
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 1/4 cup apricot or strawberry preserves
- Sifted confectioners' sugar, for sprinkling
Pour 1/2 cup lukewarm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and add 1 teaspoon sugar. Leave for 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
Spoon 4 cups flour into the mixer bowl or another large bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the remaining sugar, eggs, yolks, butter, brandy, remaining water and salt. Mix the central ingredients with a dough hook or wooden spoon until they are blended. Add the yeast mixture.
Mix with the dough hook at low speed or with the spoon until the ingredients come together to a dough. Knead with the dough hook at medium speed, scraping down the dough occasionally, for 5 minutes; or knead by hand for 5 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, add 2 tablespoons flour.
Knead 5 to 10 minutes more until very smooth. Put the dough in a clean oiled bowl and turn to coat it with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place 1-1 1/2 hours or until doubled in volume.
On a floured surface roll out half the dough 1/4 inch thick, flouring the dough occasionally. Using a 2 1/2-to-3-inch cutter or glass with a 2 1/2-to-3-inch rim, cut the dough in rounds. Put 1/2 teaspoon apricot or strawberry preserves on the center of half the number of rounds. Brush the rim of one round lightly with water. Set a plain round on top.
With floured fingers, press the dough firmly all around to seal it. Transfer this "sandwich" immediately to floured tray. If it has stretched out to an oval plump it gently back into a round shape. Continue with the remaining rounds and remaining dough.
Cover them with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place about 1/2 hour. Knead the scraps of dough, put them in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let stand for about 1/2 hour.
Heat the oil for deep-frying to 350 degrees; if a deep-fat thermometer is not available, heat the oil until it bubbles gently around a small piece of dough added to it.
Add 4 doughnuts or enough to fill the pan without crowding. Fry the doughnuts about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Pat the tops gently with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Make more doughnuts with the scraps; they won't be as light but will still be good. Remove to a serving dish and sift confectioners' sugar over them. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Don't serve these immediately because the jam is boiling hot.
To make small doughnuts: Roll the dough 1/2 inch thick. Use 1 1/2- to 2-inch cutter to shape it in small rounds. Do not fill these with jam. Fry as above and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar before serving.
Adapted from Joan Nathan's "The Children's Jewish Holiday Kitchen" (Schocken, 2000).
Tested by The Washington Post.
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