Sufganiyot is the word for doughnuts in Hebrew. It is what's traditional to eat on Hanukkah in Israel. Not so much in other countries where jews celebrate Hanukkah. Latkes, or levivot which are a type of potato pancake is what's more traditional outside of Israel as the dish for Hanukkah. See the recipe for latkes.
Hanukkah in different countries is celebrated the same way, but differently....every culture in every country is different...but it is observed by jews around the world that celebrate the same beautiful story of a miracle that happened.
The story of Hanukkah, also sometimes spelled Chanukah, commemorates the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem at the time when the Maccabees successfully rebelled against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is an 8 night Festival of Lights which celebrates the finding of a jug of pure oil that was to be enough to light the lamp for one day; instead, it lasted for eight days. That's a miracle, and that's why we celebrate it!
Different shaped "candle trees" called a Hanukkiah or a Menorah with nine candle holders are typically used to light a candle on each of the 8 nights. The ninth candle is usually set higher than the other 8 and it is used to light the other candles with every night, starting with one candle the first night, adding a new candle each night until all 8 candles are lit at the end of Hanukkah.
The beautiful Hanukkiah in the photo above is a gift from my son. It is made with Jerusalem stone. He brought back from Israel on his first visit home after moving there. It is a very special one.
In Israel we traditionally have always made strawberry jam doughnuts on Hanukkah. I will forever smell the sweetness coming out of the homes in my tiny village in the Galilee on the first night. You see these doughnuts are fried in oil. And if you have never smelled doughnuts frying in oil you've missed out in life! You had to be there....
Today in Israel things have modernized very much to say the least, and so have the doughnuts. It is still known to be traditional to make them with jam but they are also made in bakeries now with all kinds of fillings and glazes that are mouthwatering. You can find sufganiyot with flavors such as cappuccino, dulce de leche, chocolate truffle and many more decadent tastes. The variety is tremendous to the extent that one Jerusalem bakery produced doughnut dough saturated with flavored vodka!
For me, the memory of jam filled doughnuts with sugar dusted on the outside is a very sweet one and that's what I'm going to show you in this recipe as well as other options for a variety of delicious Sufganiyot!
½ Kilo (1000 grams) plain all purpose flour
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
¼ -½ cup sugar depending on how sweet you prefer the dough to taste
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 room temperature cup water
1 tablespoon of Vodka or similar alcohol
300 grams of strawberry jelly
Chocolate spread or Nutella
Powdered sugar for dusting doughnuts (icing sugar)
1 ½ - 2 litres canola oil
Oil in a spray can
Sprinkles of your choice, I used blue for Hanukkah
Round cookie cutter about 7 centimeters, a straw, plastic squeeze bottle (like an olive oil dispenser) I found these great little containers as part of a decorating kit, so easy to fill with anything. See link at bottom of page.
400 grams powdered sugar (icing sugar)
2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup, you can use honey if you don't have any
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
90 ml boiled water or milk
Sieve the flour into the mixer bowl. Add the dry active yeast, salt and sugar. Mix for a few seconds so all the ingredients are blended. Add the oil, eggs, vanilla extract and water. Mix on low settings for about 10 minutes. Add the Vodka and mix for a few more seconds. The alcohol prevents the doughnuts from sinking in the oil and from absorbing too much of it.
The dough is ready when it comes away from the sides of the bowl but it is still little sticky.
Pat your dough into a ball. Spray a bowl with a little oil and place the dough in it. Spray a little oil on top of the dough and cover with Saran Wrap. Leave to rise for 1 ½ - 2 hours or until it doubles in size.
This part is not essential but it will help you place the doughnuts in the oil and turn them over.
Cut out squares from parchment paper sized about 4x4 inches.
Flour your work area. Take out the dough from the bowl and sprinkle with a little flour to avoid it sticking.
This is my preferred way to shape round doughnuts filled with jam. Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1 ½ - 2 centimeteres.
Using a round cookie cutter of about 7 centimeters, dip it in a little flour and cut out a circle. Place it on a floured surface or a square of parchment paper. Continue to cut out as many circles as you can get out of the dough placing them on a floured surface or the cut out squares and gather the leftover dough to roll out and repeat until you have used up all you're dough. Remember to dip your cutter in a little flour to prevent it from sticking to the dough.
Shape dough into an oval and cut in half then down the middle. Cut each half into 7 pieces. Take each piece and form a ball, each weighing about 40 grams and roll it on the surface with the palm of your hand to shape. Place on squares.
Cut out circles as in option 1 and with a small cutter or a wide wine cork cut out the middles. Save the middles. Place on squares. Shown below are the different shape of doughnuts rolled to a ball and cut out.
Slightly flour the tops of the doughnuts, cover with a dishtowel or Saran Wrap for about 40 minutes.
In the meanwhile pour jelly into squeezy plastic container. Pour or Nutella or other filling into another.
Whip together all ingredients until smooth. Leave white or add a tablespoon of chocolate spread or Nutella and whip into mixture. Or add a tablespoon of Biscoff cookie butter spread, my new addiction, and mix in.
In a medium wide pan, place oil about 3/4 way full and heat until temperature of oil reaches between 160-170 centigrade. It is important that the oil doesn't get too hot or it will burn the doughnuts. Measure the temperature with a thermometer or place a toothpick or a wooden skewer stick in the oil and hold it, if bubbles occur the oil is ready!
When oil reaches correct temperature gently lift each circle of dough with the square parchment paper or with a spatula and put it in the oil upside down. Fry each doughnut for about 1 ½ -2 minutes. Turn over once when it is golden brown and repeat on other side. The paper easily comes away, discard. Doughnuts will have a white ring around the middle, that is how a perfect doughnut should look. Include your small cut out dough pieces, they make lovely mini doughnuts.
Remove and place on a paper kitchen towel and let cool a little. While still a little warm, with a straw, make a hole in the middle of the doughnut fairly deep but taking care not to go through to the other end.
Use the squeeze bottle by putting the long top in the doughnut about half way and squeezing in the jam until it starts to come out of the hole a little. Repeat with each doughnut. When completely cool dust with some powdered sugar through a small sieve.
Repeat the same with Nutella or any filling you like.
To glaze dip top of doughnut in favorite glaze and sprinkle with anything you like on top. Do the same with the mini doughnuts or just drizzle them with icing.
Enjoy these delicious fluffy fresh doughnuts made at home, you can't get anything as tasty in the stores.