Delicious jam-filled and sugar-coated doughnuts are one of the most symbolic dishes of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. Also called Sufganiyah (or Sufganiot in plural), the popularity of this yummy treat has an interesting history. Since the first celebration of Chanukah, oily foods were used to symbolise the miracle of the festival, but it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that jam doughnuts started to become a staple.
The first jam doughnut is thought to have been created in 1485 in Germany as a revolutionary treat, and in the decades that followed they became especially popular in Poland over Christmas. Polish Jews would enjoy these doughnuts on Chanukah and referred to them in Yiddish as ‘ponchinks’. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the tradition of jam doughnuts travelled with Polish Jews wherever they immigrated, but it was only during the 1920’s that ‘Sufganiyot’ specifically became tied to Chanukah in Israel. To this day these doughnuts remain hugely popular with Jewish communities around the world, with new and inventive fillings and toppings popping up each year.
Chef Yanir’s Classic Chanukah Doughnuts:
(Makes 5 doughnuts)
For the dough:
250g plain flour
16g fresh yeast / 7g dry yeast
75ml water or milk
5g butter or margarine
1 tsp brandy (optional)
Jam/custard for the filling
Mix all ingredients until you get a non-sticky, elastic dough. If it’s a bit sticky add a pinch of flour, or a dash of water/milk if it’s too dry.
Cover the dough with cling film and let it rest until it doubles in size (around 1 hour).
Tip: the dough will rise faster in a warm environment, so if your kitchen is especially warm your dough will double in size quickly.
Once it has doubled, roll the dough into 5 round balls and place onto baking paper and let them rise until they double in size (around 30 mins).
Fill a frying pan or pot with oil, and heat the oil on medium to high heat.
Tip: keep the heat of the pan controlled so the temperature of the oil stays at 170°. If you have a thermometer to help you do so, all the better!
Fry each side of the doughnut until nice and golden and place on a baking rack
Cover each doughnut in granulated sugar or dust with icing sugar and proceed to fill with your chosen filling using a piping bag.