How To Make Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiyot)


Sufganiyot are Israeli jelly doughnuts that are common Hanukkah holiday fare. Crisp on the outside, fluffy and tender and bursting with jelly, fresh doughnuts are a divine treat you can make at home when you wan to spend an afternoon baking.

Fried foods, particularly those fried in olive oil, are traditional for Hanukkah because of the key part oil plays in the holiday story (the Jews were able to recapture their central Temple in Jerusalem, but there was only enough oil to kindle the lights for one day, yet it lasted a miraculous eight days).

For Jews across the globe, fried foods abound this time of year, but the interpretations vary widely. In Eastern Europe and Russia, potato pancakes, or latkes, were common and they have remained holiday fare in the United States over the past century. Latkes are eaten in Israel, but jelly doughnuts, unsurprisingly, steal the show.

Adding to their holiday significance, these jelly doughnuts have a unique history and offer a look at different ways to make jelly doughnuts. Sufganiyot were likely carried to Israel by immigrant bakers perhaps a century ago. European Jews had no significant tradition of eating sweet fried foods for Hanukkah, but Jews from the Middle East and Mediterranean and other far-flung areas, by and large, ate fried sweets for Hanukkah.

When these traditions came together in Israel, the custom of eating jelly doughnuts evolved and was integrated across all the Jewish cultures there. About four decades ago, American Jews were captivated by the crispy and sweet charms of sufganiyot, and today, sufganiyot are commonly served alongside latkes for the holiday.

The dough for these doughnuts is a lot like a bread dough. It will work beautifully in a stand mixer, but not well at all with a handheld electric mixer. If you don’t mind using a little elbow grease, you can try kneading this dough by hand, but a stand mixer is your best option.

Frying enriched doughs can be challenging, even for very experienced cooks. The sugars can caramelize on the outside, making the dough dark before the enriched inside cooks.

There are two things built into this recipe to help you. First, the dough is really only partially proofed each time, so it will get the most poof and spring once it hits the heat and will be very light and fluffy inside, so it can cook through with ease.

Second, the heat is a bit lower than most frying recipes — not low enough to be greasy or to absorb a huge amount of oil, but not high enough to over-brown the outside. Now, that does mean that you have to be vigilant about the oil temperature and check it constantly and increase or reduce heat as necessary. It’s not simple, I know, but it will ensure the best results.

The pot used for this recipe was a coated six-quart cast iron pot, about 10 inches wide and five inches deep, and the oil was about two-and-a-half inches deep. That was enough to fry four doughnuts at a time without any of them touching, and still left plenty of room to turn them. Cast iron holds heat incredibly well and is great for frying. You can use a larger, wider pot, up to seven-and-a-half quarts, but make sure you use enough oil to come at least two-and-a-half inches up the side of the pot and that you can fry five at a time.

Some sufganiyot makers fill their doughnuts Berliner-style — two thin discs with a dab of jelly in between. Expert bakers can ace this style, but frankly, I don’t go there. The problem is that the discs tend to leak, and if even a little bit of the jelly gets into the hot oil, it will burn and you’ll need new oil for subsequent batches, not to mention stopping to deal with hot, now-yucky oil. I make sure that my sufganiyot are all but guaranteed to succeed. I fill a pastry bag with jelly, poke the doughnuts with its sharp tip, and squeeze the jelly into the fried doughnut. Making sufganiyot simply works better with this less-traditional technique.

Source : thekitchn

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