Hanukkah Doughnuts

Guys, I made doughnuts! I’m so excited by this. Although I feel like I’ve climbed a mini baking Everest, it was probably more of a small hill. I was so afraid of deep frying that I actively avoided it for years. In fact we use low fat spray for pretty much all cooking so actual full bottles of vegetable oil never make it past the threshold. There’s a definite anxiety that goes with being responsible for a pan of hot oil, especially when you’re me and mugs are known to fly out of your hand just taking them out the cupboard. I’m not stealthy or careful, I’m clumsy and I make a mess. Me and hot oil were never meant to work together, but we did and look what we made!

It’s Hanukkah this weekend, that’s what prompted me to make these doughnuts (or sufganiyot as they are named). They are traditional treats during the 8 nights of Hanukkah and Jewish bakeries in New York pump them out on their thousands throughout the period. I love Jewish food, it’s warm and comforting and there’s a story behind every dish. As someone who enjoys a good tradition and a good doughnut, this whole idea appealed to me greatly.

Having now stood before a pan of hot oil and fried stuff I can honestly say ‘don’t worry’. As long as you have everything you might need out and ready you’ll be ok. I made sure I had a spatula ready and that right next to the pan was a wire rack with kitchen roll underneath to catch any oil coming off the doughnuts. I kept my timer by my side and carefully watched every doughnut in the pan, flipping them over halfway through.

This recipe is not particularly difficult, if you’ve made any sweet dough before it won’t be a challenge. It just takes time and is probably better done at a weekend, unless you particularly love deep frying things at 9:30pm on a Thursday.

Traditionally, these are filled with a fruit jelly…which in the UK I assumed to be jam with no bits in, so I opted for strawberry. I also filled some with nutella but you could also use pistachio paste, caramel, sweet cream cheese (mixed with icing sugar) or any creamy/jammy filling…like a regular doughnut really. All the pictures I saw of sufganiyot appeared to have the filling piped in from the top so I followed suit rather than going through the side like doughnuts you find in the supermarket. I actually made a sweet chestnut cream for some of mine but didn’t end up using it because, in the end, the cream set too thickly to easily pipe so I think I would make it again and use more cream to make it slightly runnier. I will just take a moment to add how amazing sweet chestnut cream is and it should totally be made by everyone.

This recipe yields around 33 doughnuts. That sounds like a lot but if you take them into work and leave them out for colleagues I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be the number 1 person in the building for that day.

(Also, don't forget my Christmas Giveaway running until next Thursday)

Hanukkah Doughnuts (Sufganiyot)
(Recipe from Bon Appetit)

1 sachet/7g dry yeast
750g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
90g shortening
350ml lukewarm milk (soya milk will also do)
750ml vegetable oil for frying
jam (no bits), caramel, nutella, or any creamy filling

  1. Sprinkle yeast in 30ml warm water and set aside until foamy (about 5 minutes). 
  2. In a bowl, mix 315g of flour and all other ingredients (including the yeast/water mix) on a low speed. Slowly add the rest half of the flour in 60g increments until the dough is no longer sticky. Add more if you think it's necessary...don't be scared. 
  3. Knead the dough in the bowl for about five minutes, on a medium speed, until the dough feels elastic. Cover with cling film and a tea towel and let rise for about 1 hour. 
  4. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a circle 1/2 inch thick. Using an overturned drinking glass, cut circles out in the dough. The doughnuts will expand by about 50 percent when fried. 
  5. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, slowly heat the oil to 350 degrees. Don't do it too quickly or the they won't brown right. Use a wide pan to make it easy to take the doughnuts out and move them around. 
  6. Working in batches of around 4 (to avoid crowding the pot), add the dough circles to the oil. Cook for two minutes on each side, about 3-4 minutes total. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula, and place on a cooling rack or towel to drain. Add more oil to the pot if necessary. 
  7. When the doughnuts have cooled enough to handle, add the filling: insert a pastry pipe with a small round nozzle in the doughnuts and fill. Sprinkle with icing sugar (optional) and serve.