by Mollee Bauer
A typical Chanukah menu sounds as if a child planned it -- potato pancakes fried in lots of oil, cheese-filled donuts dipped in honey, cheese blintzes, fried apple fritters and strawberry jam–filled donuts (sufganiyot) covered in powdered sugar.
Some might think it's a ploy to keep kids lingering around the candles and enjoying a family meal. Not at all!
Chanukah food traditions have their origins in the first years that the holiday was celebrated. The oil used to fry the donuts reminds us of the oil that miraculously burned in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, according to the Chanukah story.
Remembering the miracles and the freedom that we're celebrating adds a special flavor to everything we serve, especially those jam-filled donuts!
Prep time: 30 minutes | Total time: 2 1/2 hours | Yield: 12 to 24 donuts
• 1 package yeast
• 1 tablespoons sugar
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 3 cups flour
• 1/4 cup margarine, melted
• dash of salt
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 1/4 cups water room temperature
• jelly, strawberry or your favorite flavor
• canola oil for frying
• powdered or superfine sugar
In a small bowl, whisk the first four ingredients together. Cover and set in a warm place to activate the yeast, about five minutes. You'll know it's ready when it's bubbly with a thic, yeasty foam floating on top.
In another bowl, mix 3 cups of flour with the melted margarine, salt, sugar and egg yolks.
Combine the yeast mixture with the flour mixture. Slowly add water while stirring. When batter is smooth, cover the bowl with a towel and rise until doubled in volume, about 1 to 2 hours.
After the batter has risen, pour it onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Pat into a rectangle or roll it out to 1/3" thickness. Cut into 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-inch diameter circles. Place a teaspoon of jelly in the middle of each circle, and then cover with another circle of dough. Attach the edges. Cover the doughnuts with a towel and let rise for 15 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 350 F. Fry the doughnuts in the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until lightly golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
These are best eaten fresh. After you make the dough, only fry a few at a time.
To store the dough, transfer the unused portion of the rolled or patted out rectangle to a towel-lined sheet pan. Cover with plastic and refrigerate up to three days.
What other fillings have you tried -- Nutella, ricotta cheese with honey, or fig preserves?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com.