Sick of Traditional Hanukkah Sufganiyot? Try This Baked Cronut Recipe

Some sweet and tasty options for all eight deep-fried nights of Soufganiyot.

Vered Guttman

Soufganiyot, the ultimate Hanukkah sweet are overshadowed this year by Thanksgiving pies, and even more so by Cronuts. Cronuts, the “unique pastry creation” by Chef Dominique Ansel, as he notes in his website, are basically a donut made of croissant dough that became a huge craze in New York this year. Chef Ansel realized what renaissance festivals around the country and Jews across the world knew all along: everything tastes better when it’s fried, even croissants.

With eight days of Hanukkah, five family members and $5 a Cronut (Ansel trademarked the name so we will just say Cr#$*t,) I decided to try and find an easy home-made substitute. Easy, because the croissant-style dough requires rolling and folding, then rolling and folding again, and then rolling and folding once more.

Vered Guttman

I remembered an Israeli shortcut invented by Ruth Oliver from Al Ha’Shulchan food magazine. She uses store-bought puff pastry and combines it with home-made yeast dough, which saves a lot of the rolling and folding. Being lazier than lazy, I made it even simpler: I dissolved yeast in sugary water until it foamed and just mixed it with a little flour and sugar to make a paste and then combined by, well, rolling and folding, with a whole-butter store bought puff pastry. The process took about 20 minutes. I then let the dough rest in the fridge overnight and the next day, when I fried the puffy donuts, they disappeared within minutes. They were the best soufganiyot I’ve ever made, or at least the best Cr#$*ts.

And since we have eight nights to fill with donuts, here are two more options: Bomboloni, Italian donuts that are identical to the Israeli sufganiya in every way, except they are much, much smaller. When it comes to soufganiyot, smaller is better. The others are yeast-free quick donuts, a popular Israeli recipe which I published in the Washington Post a couple of years ago.

Quick homemade Cronut

The trick here is to combine store-bought puff pastry with a yeast paste (a variation on a shortcut for croissant pastry invented by Israeli food writer Ruth Oliver).

To make sure the pastries are delicious, the puff pastry has to be of the best quality, whole-butter type, such as Dufour’s puff pastry, available at Whole Foods Markets and gourmet supermarkets.

Yields 12-15 Cronuts

Ingredients:
14 oz. Whole-butter puff pastry (such as Dufour’s,) thawed
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 bag (¼ oz.) active dry yeast
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ cup warm milk
Peanut, Canola or corn oil for frying

For the Glazing:
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Take puff pastry out of fridge to rest at room temperature while you prepare the yeast paste

2. In a small bowl mix ¼ cup warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar. Add yeast and mix to dissolve and let sit for 10 minute until the yeast mixture doubles in volume. Put 1 cup flour in a medium bowl, add the yeast mixture, ¼ cup milk and 2 tablespoons sugar and mix to create a paste.

3. Generously flour your work space. Roll puff pastry to 14”X10” rectangle. Spread the yeast paste on half the dough leaving ½” margin on the sides. Fold the other half over to get a 7”X10” rectangle and seal the edges by pressing them together.

4. Rotate the rectangle so the long side is next to you and roll it again to get about 14”X10” rectangle. Fold the right third of the rectangle to the center and the left third on top of it. Rotate the rectangle again so the long part is next to you and repeat the process of rolling and folding three more times.

5. Transfer the dough to a bowl, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and put in fridge overnight and up to 24 hours.

6. Take the dough out of the fridge. Generously flour your work surface and a large baking sheet. Roll the dough to ¾” thickness. Using a 2.5” round cookie cutter cut circles and make a hole inside of about ½ inch diameter (I used an apple corer for that). Gently transfer the donuts into the baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let stand for an hour until they rise a little.

7. Make the glazing: Heat milk and vanilla paste in a small saucepan over low heat until hot. Add sugar and stir well until the glazing is smooth. Keep warm.

8. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towel. Heat ⅓” of oil in a frying pan over medium heat until hot. Fry Cronuts on both sides, a few at a time, until golden-brown, about 3-4 minutes total. Transfer Cronuts to the baking sheet. Continue frying the rest of the donuts. Drizzle glazing over the Cronuts. Serve immediately.

Bomboloni

Italian mini-soufganiyot. Traditionally filled with vanilla pastry cream, but for Hanukkah, I used strawberry jam.

Yields: About 35 bomboloni

Ingredients:
⅓ cup + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 bag (¼ oz.) active dry yeast
3.5 cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
½ cup warm milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) soft butter
Peanut, Canola or corn oil for frying
½ cup strawberry jelly
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:
1. In a small bowl mix ¼ cup of warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar. Add yeast and mix to dissolve and let sit for 10 minute until the yeast mixture doubles in volume.

2. Put 3.5 cups flour in a bowel of a stand-mixer with a dough hook attached. Add yeast mixture, warm milk and sugar and mix to combine. Add eggs to the bowel one by one and vanilla extract and continue to knead for 10 minutes.

3. Add butter, spoon by spoon, and knead for 5 minutes longer. Remove the bowel from the stand mixer, cover with a lightly damp towel and let dough rise for 2 hours in a warm place until it doubles in volume. (I turn the oven on the lowest temperature for 1 minute than turn it off and put the bowel there.)

4. You can now cut and fry the Bomboloni, or you can store the dough overnight in the fridge and fry the next day. If you choose to keep in fridge, punch the dough to release air, knead it for a minute using your hands, and cover very tightly with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge overnight and up to 24 hours and continue the next day.

5. Generously flour your working surface and a baking sheet. Roll the dough to ¾” thickness. Using a 1.5” round cookie cutter cut circles. Gently transfer the donuts into the baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let stand for an hour until they rise.

6. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towel. Heat ⅓” of oil in a frying pan over medium heat until hot. Fry Bomboloni on both sides, a few at a time, until golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes total. Transfer to baking sheep.

7. Fill a piping bag or a ziplock bag fitted with a ½” round tip with jelly and inject into Bomboloni. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Quick soufganiyot with cherry-red wine jam

These small soufganiyot are made with self-rising flour instead of yeast, making preparation quick and easy. Just mix and fry.

Serve the soufganiyot with crème fraîche and cherry-red wine jam (recipe below), or any homemade jam you prefer.

(This recipe was originally published in the Washington Post Food Section)

Yields: about 40 small donuts, or 10-12 servings

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 TBSP sugar
1 lb. fat-free Greek yogurt
2 eggs
4 TBSP olive oil
Grated zest of one orange
Pinch of salt
Oil for deep frying (half of it can be olive oil)
Powdered sugar for dusting
Crème fraîche for serving (optional)
Cherry-red wine jam for serving (optional)

Directions:
1. In a large bowl mix the first 7 ingredients.

2. Heat 1 inch of oil in frying pan or a pot over medium heat.

3. Using 2 teaspoons drop inch sized donuts into the oil and fry until they are brown.

4. This should take about 4 minutes per batch - if the donuts turn brown quicker than
that, the oil might be too hot and they might not be cooked all the way. Adjust the
heat as needed.

5. Transfer the donuts to a tray layered with paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar
and serve immediately with the crème fraîche and jam on the side.


Cherry-red wine jam
The wine in this cherry jam deepens its’ color and enriches the flavor. Use a red wine of your choice, such as Pinot Noir or Malbec. Source: Vered Guttman

Yields: 3 lbs.

Ingredients:
2 lbs. pitted cherries
1 1/2 lbs. sugar
1/2 cup red wine
Pinch of allspice

Directions:
In a heavy-bottom tall pot put the cherries, sugar and wine. Turn the heat to medium and bring to boil. Skim the foam from the top of the jam and continue to cook for about 40 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the jam thickens and its color becomes darker. You may choose to cook the jam for 30 minutes only, using it as syrup for desserts.