Jelly Donuts for Hanukkah

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easy jelly donuts for hanukkah

These easy homemade jelly donuts (sufganiyot) are sure to be the hit of your Hanukkah celebration

One day several Decembers ago, a friend mentioned in passing that she had stopped in to Mollie Stone’s on the way to work to pick up Krispy Kreme jelly donuts for her coworkers. “You know, for Hanukkah,” she said casually. Actually, it was the first time I’d heard of the tradition of eating jelly donuts for Hanukkah, though it makes perfect sense since the holiday is all about celebrating the miracle of the oil. What better way to celebrate oil’s miraculousness than with crispy, sweet fried dough filled with jelly? I was intrigued. Could this finally be the excuse I needed to indulge in the most sinful of treats? I believed it was and on the spot, I created my own family tradition of serving an assortment of store-bought donuts for dessert on Hanukkah, including my childhood favorites,  buttermilk-based Old Fashioneds with chocolate icing, and, of course,  jelly donuts.

This year I decided to try making the traditional Israeli jelly donut called sufganiyot. Yeah, I don’t really know how to pronounce it, either (the Internet says it’s SOOF-gun-yote), and, well, I’m a convert.

I originally tried to develop a baked version of sufganiyot to share here, based on the assumption that Lazy Gourmets don’t want to sully their kitchen with a bunch of messy deep frying, but try as I might, I failed to make a baked donut that came anywhere close to the deliciousness of the fried version. And this is, after all, a holiday that’s all about eating fried foods. Eventually, I broke down and tried making a fried version and, you know what? The frying was actually really easy and not even messy. The trick is to use a fairly deep, but not too large pot (I used a 2-quart saucepan). Fill the pot to a depth of about 2 to 3 inches (if you use a 2-quart saucepan, this should only take about 3 cups of oil rather than the 6 or 8 cups most recipes call for), make your dough balls about 1 inch in diameter, and fry them 3 or 4 at a time. Honestly, they cook so fast that that’s all I could keep track of at one time anyway. Frying (and glazing) a whole batch of donuts in this manner took me a total of about 10 minutes, not including the time it took the oil to come up to temp.

You can use a pastry bag and tip to inject jam (strawberry is the classic choice, but any type will do) or other fillings, such as lemon curd or even chocolate or pastry cream. If you want to skip the hassle of filling them (frankly, this part was much messier and more time consuming than the frying), just set out bowls of jam, chocolate sauce, and the like for dipping. Or just eat them like I do, still piping hot and dripping with the powdered sugar glaze.

Easy Homemade Jelly Donuts or Sufganiyot
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Jewish
 

Makes about 36 donuts.

It’s untraditional, but I like to use buttermilk in these, a nod to my personal favorite donut, the Old Fashioned. If you’d like to prep these ahead of time, make the recipe through the first rise and then refrigerate the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to a day or two. Remove from the refrigerator, form your balls, and continue with the recipe as written. You could also form your dough balls ahead of your meal and let them sit until after your meal so that you can serve them fresh from the fryer.

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 packet (2 ½ teaspoons) quick-rise yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • About 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Strawberry jam, lemon curd, chocolate or pastry cream for filling or dipping (optional)

Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir to mix and let sit about 10 minutes, until bubbly.
  2. Add the buttermilk, egg, and salt to the yeast mixture and mix with a fork until well combined. Stir in 2 cups of the flour (the other ¼ cup will be used when forming your dough balls), adding it in several additions. When it gets too stiff to continue mixing with the fork, use your hands. The dough will be fairly sticky. Knead for a minute or two with your hands, until you have a fairly firm ball (it will still be pretty sticky).
  3. Wash out the bowl and coat it with vegetable oil.
  4. Place the dough ball in the oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot in the kitchen to rise for 2 to 3 hours, until at least doubled in size.
  5. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray or coat with vegetable oil.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured board and punch it down. With floured hands, break off small pieces of the dough and form into balls about 1 inch in diameter.
  7. Place the balls about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Spray the tops lightly with vegetable oil spray and then cover with plastic wrap. Let rise 30 minutes.
  8. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the oil over high heat until very hot (a small bit of dough should sizzle vigorously and begin to brown within about 30 seconds of being dropped in. If you have a deep-fry thermometer, the oil should be at about 375º Fahrenheit.)
  9. While the oil is heating, set a large plate topped with a double layer of paper towels and a baking rack set over a baking sheet next to the stove.
  10. Make your glaze by stirring the powdered sugar and milk together in a small bowl and set that next to the stove, as well.
  11. When the oil is hot, drop 3 or 4 dough balls in at a time. Let cook about 30 seconds, until golden brown on the bottom, and then flip over and cook another 30 seconds until dark golden brown all the way around. Using a slotted spoon, remove the donuts and place them on the paper towel-lined plate. Drop in your next round of 3 or 4 dough balls, and while those are cooking, drop the first batch of dough balls into the glaze mixture, turn to coat an all sides, and transfer to the rack.
  12. Continue the process until all of the donuts are cooked.
  13. Fill the donuts before serving or, if desired, serve immediately with fillings/toppings for dipping.

 

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6 Responses to Jelly Donuts for Hanukkah

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  2. Ethan says:

    So I followed your measurements exactly and the dough was way too goopy to knead into a ball ever, much less in 1-2 minutes’ time. I had to add like a cup more flour, and I lost a good portion of the dough that stuck to my hands and I had to wash off in the sink. What am I doing wrong?

    • Robin says:

      The dough should be pretty sticky but not goopy. I have made this recipe many times with no problems. You should have less than a cup of liquid, so I can’t imagine why you’d have to add 3 cups (or more!) of flour. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. I would just add more flour until it is enough that you can knead it.

      • Ethan says:

        Maybe goopy was the wrong word. So sticky it was completely unworkable. Stuck to the bowl, stuck to my hands. No elasticity whatsoever. Could not make a ball for the life of me.

  3. J says:

    Have not tried the recipie, but: “crispy, sweet fried dough”? Real original Sufganiot are soft on the outside, not crispy! Crispy means overfried.

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