Growing up, the most common Chanukah food was latkes (most typically potato pancakes, though there are so many types of pancakes you can enjoy for the holiday). Fried in oil, potato pancakes help to commemorate the miracle of Chanukah when enough oil for one day lasted for eight (read about the holiday here). But at some point when I was in elementary school, they started bringing in sufganiot for us – something that had become popular in Israel during the holiday.
Traditionally, the sufganiyot which we called jambusters in Winnipeg and jelly doughnuts in many other places, were filled with raspberry jam and rolled in granulated sugar. These days it seems like bakeries in Israel are in competition to come up with the most interesting filling/topping combinations and I admit, I’ve done that myself, filling them with halvah mousse and topping with chocolate ganache, coconut cream filling with coconut glaze, chocolate pastry cream filling with salted caramel glaze and on and on. I love ALL of the different versions but there will always be a place on my table for the classic version. Raspberry jam rolled in sugar.
This recipe is for my classic doughnut but you can have some fun with the fillings and toppings. Use any jam flavour you like, just make sure that there aren’t any large chunks that might get stuck in the pastry tip when filling. Use lemon, lime, orange or other curds and roll in icing sugar. Fill with different pastry creams (chocolate, vanilla, caramel, green tea, etc.) and top with ganache (white chocolate, milk or dark). Fill with apple or pear butter and roll in cinnamon sugar. The options are limitless!
Sufganiyot are best eaten the day they’re made. There’s really no getting around that. If I’m using fillings that I make myself, I will usually try to get the fillings done the day before so they’re chilled and ready to go.
For frying, I like to use an electric frying pan. It maintains the temperature well and I can fry more at one time than if I use a pot. If you don’t have one, use a wide pot with enough oil to fill it about 2 inches and use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature.
For filling, I use Bismark piping tips. The pointed edge of the tip lets you pierce the doughnut without having to use a knife to pierce it first. The length of the tip lets you get the filling right into the centre of the doughnut. For some thicker fillings like jams or ones that contain solid items like coconut, use a tip with a wider opening so the filling doesn’t get stuck. If you don’t have these tips, use a plain round piping tip and a sharp paring knife to make a small hole in the doughnut that will help you insert the tip into the doughnut.
Sufganiyot / Jambusters / Jelly Doughnuts
Fresh yeast doughnuts rolled in sugar and filled with jams (or fillings of your choice). Using a 3-inch cookie cutter will yield approximately 18 sufganiyot. Best eaten fresh.
- 1 1/4 cup warm water
- 4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 cup oil (I use canola)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 15 oz. / 425 grams bread flour (3 cups)
- 5 oz. / 140 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup)
- canola oil for frying
- fillings of your choice
- granulated or icing sugar for rolling
- Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let it sit for 3-4 minutes, or until the yeast starts to foam.
- Add the egg yolks, salt, nutmeg, oil and vanilla and using a dough hook, briefly mix through on low.
- Add the flours and start mixing on low until most of the flour is incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and knead for 6-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl.
- Form the dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough sit for 60-75 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll the dough out until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter to cut into circles. I use a 3-inch cutter, but you can use a smaller cutter to make mini-doughnuts or a larger cutter to make large doughnuts. Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with flour and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise for half an hour.
- While the dough rises, heat your oil. I use an electric frying pan, pouring in enough oil to fill it about 2 inches. If you don’t have an electric frying pan, use a pot on the stove with a thermometer. Heat the oil to 350°F / 175°C.
- When the oil is ready, use a spatula to carefully lift a dough circle and gently place in the oil. Fry in batches, without overcrowding the pan. The dough will fall toward the bottom of the pot and then pop up to the top in a few seconds. Use the spatula to gently flip the dough over as soon as it gets to the top of the oil. Fry the doughnut for 90 seconds or until golden brown, gently flip over and fry another 90 seconds or until the second side is golden brown. If the doughnuts are browning much faster, check the temperature of the oil. If they brown too quickly, the oil is too hot and the inside of the sufganiya will be undercooked. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sufganiyot from the oil and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towel or a rack.
- If you are coating your sufganiyot in sugar, you need to do that while they’re still warm so that the sugar sticks. If I’m using jam, I like to use a pastry bag fit with a long Bismark piping tip to fill the doughnut while warm and then roll in sugar. If I’m filling them with something like pastry cream that might melt, I’ll roll them in sugar while warm, let them cool and then fill.
- Finish frying, filling and rolling the rest of the sufganiyot in sugar and enjoy!