This week’s recipe: Sufganiyot (jelly donuts)
Welcome to my blog, nobody, and happy New Year! It’s extremely cliché to be starting an endeavor like this on New Year’s Day, but at least I’m not trying to lose weight, which is lucky, because as you will soon find out from reading this blog, cooking, baking, and eating are some of my life’s greatest joys. But Sarah, you might be asking yourself, why does the world need another cooking/baking blog? The answer is: it doesn’t. This is really just for me because I love to write but I’ve gotten a little rusty in recent years and I wanted the formal discipline of having to write something every week. But if you find some interesting thoughts or recipes that you like, so much the better!
The other thing is that this isn’t going to be just any cooking/baking blog. You’re going to go on a date with this blog and hold its hand across the table and say, “You know why I love you? You’re not like other blogs. Other blogs are so oversensitive and high-maintenance and they take forever to do their makeup.” And then the blog will smile and reply, “I know. That’s why I’m only friends with boys, other blogs are too much drama.” And then…okay I think I got off-topic here. But yeah, this will be sort of incidentally about cooking, but will mostly just be my rambly thoughts. If you’ve read this far, you may like that style. If not, you are welcome to click the link at the top, which will take you straight to the recipe.
I was inspired to set up my blog this way for two main reasons. One is because there are so many amazing cooking blogs out there today, but one of the things that always bothers me is the proliferation of pictures. Many of the photos are beautifully styled and shot, and there’s nothing wrong with making your food look appealing, but do we really need to scroll through a dozen versions of what is essentially the same image except for a half-inch difference in the angle? I find it annoying when you have to scroll down through for a full sixty seconds just to get to the goddamned recipe. I promise that on this blog, pictures will be kept to a minimum. Another reason is that I’m simply bad at food writing. I don’t find it interesting to write or to read. I don’t have a very subtle palate so I can’t write convincingly about flavors and textures for any length of time. Therefore I promise that on this blog, my atrocious attempts at food writing will also be kept to a minimum.
There’s also an element of guilt at play here. It seems frivolous to be talking about donuts or whatever as the world hurtles towards madness. It’s hard to celebrate the end of one terrible year when you have a strong feeling that the coming one is going to be even worse. It’s hard to face the new year with hope when my version of an optimistic scenario for 2017 is along the lines of, “Well, if Trump does something stupid and China decides to nuke the U.S., they’d probably pick Trump Tower as the epicenter, and I live pretty near Trump Tower so at least I’d die quickly.” But until that blessed day arrives and I’m vaporized off the face of the earth, I can’t stop living my life and doing the things I love—cooking, eating, and writing. And judging other people, in this case for putting too many photos on their blogs. Cooking/eating/writing/judging soothe me, and I have a feeling we’re all going to need our nerves soothed a little in the coming year.
So anyway, here are some sufganiyot. Sufganiyot, for those of you not in the sufgani-know, are jelly donuts that are traditionally eaten on Hanukkah, the festival of fried foods lights. This recipe comes from the phenomenal Breads Bakery. The fact that there was a Breads Bakery near my current apartment may or may not have informed my decision to move here. The owner, Uri Scheft, is Israeli, so the bakery makes lots of Jewish treats, including challah, babka, and, during this time of year, sufganiyot. Last night my whole family came over for the last night of Hanukkah, and we had a blast filling these little beauties with jam using this badass gun, the only kind of gun you’ll ever need. But you can definitely use a regular piping bag, and, if you’re more competent than I am, you can also fill the donuts with all kinds of exciting fillings (my attempts to make lemon and vanilla creams both ended with soupy mess on my refrigerator shelf, whoops!) You don’t need a deep fryer – I made mine in a high-sided skillet using a candy thermometer. That said, they definitely take some work, but there is really nothing like fresh homemade donuts. I recently tried my hand at homemade baguettes. They came out okay, but there are so many good bakeries (like Breads!) in my neighborhood that I decided that baguettes are one of those things that are best bought instead of made. A lot of people feel that way about donuts too, and they can be kind of a pain, but to my mind at least, they are so worth it.
From Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft
- 1 1/4-oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp.)
- 3-4 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surface
- 1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup warm whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more
Frying And Assembly
- Vegetable oil (for frying; about 8 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups strawberry jam
- Powdered sugar (for dusting)
MAKE the DOUGH
Combine yeast, 1 Tbsp. flour, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and 2 Tbsp. warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer*; let stand until yeast starts to foam, about 5 minutes.
Whisk in egg yolks, whole egg, milk, orange zest, orange juice, brandy, if using, salt, vanilla, 2 cups flour, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Mix on low speed with dough hook until combined, about 2 minutes.
Add 6 Tbsp. butter 1 piece at a time, mixing well between additions. (Any small lumps of butter will get worked into dough when more flour is added.) Gradually add remaining 2 cups flour (you may not need all of it), mixing until mostly combined between additions, until dough is soft, smooth, and shiny—the dough will begin to pull away from the sides of bowl and climb up dough hook.
*Don’t have a stand mixer? You can get the same results by mixing the dough with a sturdy wooden spoon and kneading on a lightly floured surface.
KNEAD AND PROOF THE DOUGH
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead, adding more flour as needed, until no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a buttered bowl, turn to coat, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
CUT the DOUGH
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 3/4″ thick. Using a floured cutter, cut out rounds of dough, twisting cutter to release the dough (this strengthens the edges so the dough puffs when frying). Reroll scraps once.
Transfer rounds of dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover loosely with another kitchen towel. Let rise until not quite doubled in size, 40–50 minutes.
If you are not ready to fry dough, refrigerate rounds up to 3 hours.
FRY the DOUGH
Fit a large heavy saucepan with thermometer; pour in vegetable oil to measure 4″ and heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Working in batches, fry dough until golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined baking sheet and let cool slightly before filling.
FILL AND FINISH THE SUFGANIYOT
Pulse jam in a food processor until smooth (this will make it easier to pipe). Scrape jam into piping bag fitted with 1/4″ tip*. Insert tip into top of sufganiyot and gently fill until jam just pokes out of hole. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
*Don’t have a piping bag? With a toothpick, make a shallow hole in the doughnut, then use a plastic bag with a 1/4″ opening cut diagonally from 1 corner.