Sufganiyot are delicate, airy little rounds of sweet dough, deep fried, filled with jelly and dusted with powdered sugar. They are traditionally served in Hanukkah because they’re fried in oil, and Hanukkah is a celebration of the “Miracle of the Oil.”
Sufganiot (pronounced soof-guh-nie-yowt, with an emphasis on the last syllable) are quite different than American jelly donuts, in taste and in texture. They are similar to berliners, if you’re familiar with those. You basically make a sweet yeast dough, shape it into rounds, deep fry, fill with jelly, then dust with powdered sugar.
Sufganiyot are sinfully delicious and (needless to say) not exactly a health food. It’s a good thing we only make them once a year.
Jelly Donuts (Sufganiyot) Recipe
Recipe makes 20 sufganiyot
1 1/3 cups reduced fat milk – heat it for 50 seconds in the microwave
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 large egg
4 cups bread flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 envelopes rapid rise yeast (make sure it’s fresh)
2 quarts canola oil for deep frying
Strawberry jelly (use smooth jam or jelly, not chunky preserves)
1. In a bread machine pan add the milk, egg, butter, flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set machine to the dough cycle. Check the dough after 5 minutes or so to make sure it’s no too wet or dry. It should have by now formed into a smooth, elastic dough ball that moves freely in the bread machine pan. If too dry or too wet, add flour or water, a tablespoon at a time.
2. When dough cycle is complete, heat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from machine onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times, then roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Dough will be difficult to roll. Keep at it, letting the dough relax periodically, and also after you’re done rolling – otherwise you’ll get oval-shaped, rather than round, doughnuts. (Actually, at least half of mine end up oval-shaped anyway, probably because the dough relaxes some more after I cut the sufganiyot out. They’re still delicious, so I don’t worry about it, and just remind myself that homemade is not *supposed* to be perfect.) It’s easier to roll the dough if you divide it into two portions and roll each separately. Cover the portion you’re not rolling with a clean kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out.
3. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut as many circles as you can, then gather, knead and re-roll the scraps one more time and extract a few more doughnuts. I usually manage to re-roll twice and use up most of the dough, but the last few ones tend to not look pretty – my daughter says they’re “gnarly.” They’re still delicious, though.
4. Place circles on the prepared baking sheets. Cover with clean towels and place next to the oven to ensure a warm environment for the second rising. Allow to rise 30 minutes. The sole purpose of heating the oven is to provide a warm environment for the second rise, so it’s optional, but I always do it.
5. Heat oil in an electric deep fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry one layer of doughnuts at a time, 2 minutes on each side, turning with a slotted spoon. I actually fry for slightly less than 2 minutes on each side – 1 minute 50 seconds seems to be ideal.
6. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Allow sufganiyot to cool for a couple of minutes, until easier to handle. Fit a pastry bag with a thin, elongated tip – I use tip #230 from this cupcake decorating kit. Fit the tip into the side of each doughnut and pipe 1 teaspoon of jam into doughnut. Alternatively (this is what I often end up doing, it’s less messy than piping sticky jam into the doughnuts), use a sharp paring knife to make a small slit at the side of each sufganiya. Use a small teaspoon such as a baby spoon to insert the jelly into the donut. Generously dust with powdered sugar and serve.