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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Melinama tells you how to make sufganiyot

The book Clutter Control suggests that if you use something less than once a year, you should get rid of it. My mother's electric frying pan, which I stole from her in the 1970s, just makes the cut: for about 25 years, exactly once a year I have hauled it out of deep storage to fry sufganiyot.

Extracts from
Out of the Fryer, Into the Lights
Julia Moskin for the New York Times - December 21, 2005

American Jews have recently ... embraced a Hanukkah treat popular in Israel, sufganiyot, or, as we know them, jelly doughnuts.

... for Israelis today, the sufganiya itself has become a focus of the holiday. "Hanukkah is not one of the most important religious holidays, so for us it is a time for getting together, eating as many sufganiyot as we can...

Ashkenazim may find sufganiyot reminiscent of German pfannkuchen or Polish paczki, a traditional pre-Lenten indulgence. For Sephardim, they are a bit like the fritters called bimuelos, zingoula or fritelle.

Many American Jews have adopted a speedier version. ... at West End Synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, families attending a Hanukkah party gathered around a menorah, dreidels and piles of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

This article, and many others, specify that sufganiyot be JELLY doughnuts. However, when I first got married my father-in-law gave me a recipe that came out of the Jerusalem Report which is much easier than the usual methods, and which uses no jelly.

It makes free-form anthropomorphic sufganiyot. They look like clouds or animals made by toddlers out of play-doh.

The recipe I give you here has been tested over many years, and the stained index card says "1996 Sufganiyot - BEST EVER." I haven't changed the recipe since then. This makes 28 doughnuts, enough for four piggy teenagers or six average people.

1996 Sufganiyot - BEST EVER

1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate (do not dilute)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons oil
1 egg
around 2 cups flour (or a little less)

Mix first four ingredients and stir fifty times to make a "sponge." Let rise in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel for half hour or more (more is better).

Add the rest of the ingredients and beat vigorously. This makes a very wet dough. Do not fear: you will not be rolling it out. Wet is good. Let it rise for another hour or more.

Heat two quarts of cooking oil (have a little more at the ready just in case) to 350 degrees in an electric frying pan or deep-fat fryer. Tear up some brown paper bags on which you'll drain the donuts.

Make cinnamon sugar (about a cup of confectioners sugar and as much cinnamon as your crew likes). Put it in a medium-sized paper bag. If your bag has holes in it you're going to be sorry.

OK, time to begin. With a big spoon dip out some of your gooey dough and drop it into the hot oil. It will behave like spider man, stretching all over the place. Make weird shapes, it's fun. Don't make the doughnuts too big or they won't cook well in the middle. Don't crowd the frying pan or the temperature will get too low.

The doughnuts will soon bob up to the surface and you'll want to turn them over fairly soon, using a slotted spoon or tongs. You'll turn them several times before they're done - which is when they are a pretty dark brown on both sides. Try one and see.

As some get taken out of the pan, put in more. Don't crowd them.

Drain them on the paper bags. When they're somewhat cooled, pop them into the cinnamon sugar bag and shake. Put on a plate or directly into the mouths of the avidly waiting consumers.

Do NOT make these unless you have a lot of people around to eat them - and to help you clean up.

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