Sufganiyot (Israeli Donuts)

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Sufganiyot (Israeli Donuts)

A cross between a beignet and a jelly donut, sufganiyot are pillowy donuts eaten in Israel and around the world during Hanukkah, when foods fried in oil symbolize the miracle of oil that burned for eight days instead of one in the Hanukkah story. Sufganiyot are traditionally filled with jelly or jam, but if your crew doesn’t care for jelly in their donuts (my son once described biting into a jelly donut as “a terrible surprise”), the filling options are limitless: try custard, Nutella, pudding, pumpkin butter, apple butter, or dulce de leche. Sufganiyot are also delicious plain.

I know that making donuts at home can seem a little daunting because yeast and hot oil are involved but, I promise, it really is simple — and this recipe is faster and easier than most because the dough is not kneaded and requires only a single rise. If you need a little encouragement to give donut-making a shot, watch this video of celebrated cookbook author and authority on all things Jewish-food-related Joan Nathan making sufganiyot in Jaffa, Israel. It makes me want to hop on a plane!Sufganiyot Israeli DonutsTo begin, combine the warm water and yeast in a small bowl and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Warm water helps activate the yeast. The temperature doesn’t need to be exact so no need to use a thermometer; just try to get it about the temperature of bath water. (If you place your hand under the stream of water in the faucet, it should feel hot but you should be able to leave your hand there without it stinging.)

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Add the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of oil, and vanilla to the water/yeast mixture and whisk with a fork until combined.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and nutmeg.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Whisk to combine.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Stir with rubber spatula until the dough comes together. It should be a bit sticky.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (no need to clean it first). Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Let the dough rise on the countertop until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Line another baking sheet with ­parchment paper and dust heavily with flour. Generously dust a clean countertop and your hands with flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the counter and dust the dough with flour.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Pat the dough into 1/4-in-thick rectangle, making sure the bottom doesn’t stick and adding more flour to the counter and your hands as needed. Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

It should be about 10 to 12 inches in size.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Using a pizza wheel or very sharp knife, cut the dough into 24 two-inch squares. Sufganiyot are traditionally round but I much prefer to make them square — you don’t need to worry about having the right-sized cookie cutter or patching together scraps of dough.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Transfer the dough squares to the floured baking sheet, leaving a little space between the squares. Sprinkle the squares lightly with flour.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Add enough of oil to a large Dutch oven or heavy pot to measure about 2 inches deep and heat over medium heat to 350°F. (If you don’t have a candy/deep-fry thermometer, drop a 1-in cube of bread in the oil; if it takes about 1 minute to get golden brown, the oil is at the right temperature.) Place 6 dough pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes, flipping halfway through frying.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Adjust the heat, if necessary, to maintain the oil temperature between 325°F and 350°F.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the donuts to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining donuts.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

When the donuts are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to puncture the side of each to form a pocket in the center.

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Place the tip of a squeeze bottle or piping bag into the pocket and squeeze 1 to 2 teaspoons of jam or jelly inside. (Alternatively, if you don’t have the right tools or just don’t want to bother, serve the filling on the side.)

Sufganiyot Israeli Donuts

Using a fine sieve, dust the donuts generously with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm.

Sufganiyot (Israeli Donuts)

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Sufganiyot (Israeli Donuts)

Servings: 24
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes, plus 1 to 2 hours for the dough to rise

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water, heated to about 110°F (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon instant or rapid-rise yeast (note that this is more than 1 packet)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for coating
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus about 2 quarts more for frying
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 1 cup jam or jelly (or custard, Nutella, pudding, pumpkin butter, apple butter, dulce de leche, etc.), optional

Instructions

  1. Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, confectioners' sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. Add the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of oil, and vanilla to the water/yeast mixture and whisk with a fork until combined.
  4. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir with rubber spatula until the dough comes together. It should be a bit sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (no need to clean it first) and let the dough rise on the countertop until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Line another baking sheet with ­parchment paper and dust heavily with flour. Generously dust a clean countertop and your hands with flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the counter and dust the dough with flour. Pat the dough into 1/4-in-thick rectangle (it should be about 10 x 12-inches in size), making sure the bottom doesn't stick and adding more flour to the counter and your hands as needed. Using a pizza wheel or very sharp knife, cut the dough into 24 two-inch squares and transfer to the floured baking sheet, leaving a little space between the squares. Sprinkle the squares lightly with flour.
  6. Add enough of oil to a large Dutch oven or heavy pot to measure about 2 inches deep and heat over medium heat to 350°F. (If you don't have a candy/deep-fry thermometer, drop a 1-in cube of bread in the oil; if it takes about 1 minute to get golden brown, the oil is at the right temperature.) Place 6 dough pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes, flipping halfway through frying. Adjust the heat, if necessary, to maintain the oil temperature between 325°F and 350°F. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the donuts to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining donuts.
  7. When the donuts are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to puncture the side of each to form a pocket in the center. Place the tip of a squeeze bottle or piping bag into the pocket and squeeze 1 to 2 teaspoons of jam or jelly inside. (Alternatively, if you don't have the right tools or just don't want to bother, serve the filling on the side.)
  8. Using a fine sieve, dust the donuts generously with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm.
  9. Note: Warm water helps activate the yeast. The temperature doesn't need to be exact so no need to use a thermometer; just try to get it about the temperature of bath water. (If you place your hand under the stream of water in the faucet, it should feel hot but you should be able to leave your hand there without it stinging.)

Reviews & Comments

  • Hi Jenn! I’m excited to try these babies out! Question- what size is your Dutch oven? Can I use a big all clad steel pan or no for frying?
    Thank you for the constant inspiration!! Happy Chanukah!

    • — Amanda on December 7, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Amanda, I have a 5-1/2 qt Dutch oven but you can definitely use your All-Clad for frying. Hope you enjoy them!

      • — Jenn on December 8, 2018
      • Reply
    • Fantastic!! Thank you!

      • — Amanda on December 8, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi jenn. For consistency and accuracy, it would be really helpful if you provided the weight of flour instead of cups, as the amount of flour can vary depending on how one scoops or packs their flour. Thanks for giving us such great recipes

    • — Gillian on December 7, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Gillian, I actually provide metric conversions for most of my recipes, so you can find the weight of the flour by viewing those. To view them, scroll down to the recipe and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2018
      • Reply
  • Time to make the doughnuts – I mean sufganiyot! I haven’t made these yet, nor do I have a question-yet-but I just wanted to say Happy Hanukkah and thank you for the great recipes!

    • — Kenya on December 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Ha! My husband says that every single morning when he leaves the house. Happy holidays to you, too! ❤️

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2018
      • Reply
  • As I live alone I’m wondering if these could be frozen after they’re fried but before they are filled???

    • — Joanne on December 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Joanne, These are really best fresh but I think you could freeze the dough. I would make the dough, let it rise, cut it into squares, then freeze in a single layer until solid. Once firm, I would wrap each doughnut in plastic wrap or place a bunch of them in a plastic freezer bag. Just be sure to defrost the frozen dough before frying. You can also easily halve the recipe. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2018
      • Reply
  • These are amazing. My teenage son said, ” Mom, these are a 6!” As I raised my eyebrows at him, he added with a grin, “A 6 out of 5! These are beyond birthday level!” They are truly amazing, and easy peasy to make (not sure this is a good thing….) Thank you for a great recipe and Happy Hanukkah!

    • — Deniza on December 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Happy Hanukkah to you Deniza (and so glad these were well received)! 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2018
      • Reply
  • These look yummy! I live in 8,519 ft elevation. Any suggestions?

    • — Elaine Sayson on December 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Elaine, I don’t have experience baking at high altitudes so, unfortunately, I don’t have any wisdom to share – I’m sorry! You may find these tips helpful though. Hope you enjoy if you make them! 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen – these look good/fun. Have you heard of aebleskivers? I discovered them recently when someone gave me an aebleskiver cast iron pan – they are similar, fun to make, and perhaps a tad more heart-healthy? Look forward to trying these. Were sufganiyot part of the indigenous middle eastern cuisine or was the recipe brought over by European settlers?

    • — Dabney on December 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Dabney, No, I haven’t heard of aebleskivers! And aside from the symbolism of frying sufganiyot in oil to recognize the miracle of Hanukkah, I don’t know much about the history of them. Hope you enjoy if you make them! 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2018
      • Reply
  • Happy Hanukkah Jen! I hope your holiday is very special for you and your family. Thank you as always for your wonderful recipes! Seeing this recipe brought back fun memories for me; several years back, when my daughter was a girl scout, her troop participated in an International Food Festival. I suggested that our troop represent Israel, since most of the troops choose the usual countries, ie: France, Italy, Germany, China etc. Well, we had a ball researching Jewish/Israeli recipes and I even learned how to dance to Hava Nagila, and taught the girls – let me tell you, the guests at the festival loved it! We served challah, rugalach, and other specialties and I made these doughnuts. What a fun day! I would love to try your Sufganiyot recipe, but I would like to ask a question: Once the doughnuts are fried, filled and sugared, how long do they keep? The recipe I used didn’t keep very long. I’d appreciate any feedback you can provide. Thanks!

    • — SCarson on December 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Love that! The donuts are best enjoyed fresh and warm but they keep well for a few hours.

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I love all your recipes–you are my go to person when it comes to cooking. So here is my question… I have made many different kinds of doughnuts in the past but none of them come out like the authentic israeli doughnuts that are dense and yet fluffy. Is this recipe like the Israeli ones?

    • — Daphna on December 3, 2018
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes, Daphna! I wouldn’t really describe these as dense – they are on the fluffier side. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2018
      • Reply

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