One of the holiday’s most loved treats in Israel nowadays is the round jelly donut - the sufganiya. Sometime in December, bakery windows in Israel start filling up with row after row of perfect, round donuts topped with every sweet confection you could imagine.
But there’s no reason that donuts have to be round and uniform. The dough will go along with whichever shape you choose to cut it. Using your favorite cookie cutter, holiday themed or otherwise, it’s easy to create donuts in shapes that delight your children and amuse your guests.
Hanukkah donuts have never looked so fun.
This recipe is based on the classic donut recipe by Israeli baking guru Karine Goren. Goren states that her recipe is actually comes from bakeries around the country. This version adds orange and vanilla for a hint of extra flavor. Alongside her recipe, Goren offers a useful tip: Letting the donuts rise on squares of baking paper so that they don’t lose their form while being transferred into the oil.
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (peel)
Oil for frying (about 1 liter)
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and mix together with a dough hook, until you have a uniform, lightly sticky dough. Form dough into a ball with your hands, place on a floured surface and roll out until less than 1 centimeter (1/2 inch) high. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour.
Use sharp cookie cutters to cut risen dough into shapes. If you wish, you can transfer the donuts to squares of baking paper so that you don’t have to handle them with your hands, enabling them to keep their form better. Let the donuts rise for another 15 minutes as you heat the oil.
Pour a few inches/centimeters of oil into a pot, and heat until 160 degrees Celsius/320 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful that the oil does not get too hot. Carefully lower each donut into the oil - with or without the baking paper - and fry until golden on each side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
To serve: Donuts can be topped with powdered sugar, filled with a bit of your favorite donut filling, or eaten plain. Like any fresh donut, these sufganiyot taste best the moment they are cool enough to handle.
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