Jelly (Doughnuts) in My Belly

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, which is well underway, continues through Saturday, Dec. 23. A commemoration of the Maccabees' victory over the Syrians back in 165 B.C., Hanukkah also honors the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days in the temple that the Maccabean priests had reclaimed.

Come fry with me. (Kim O'Donnel)

For cooks, this means carte blanche for fried food. As Nigella Lawson writes in her book, "Feast": "The one important thing you need to know [about Hanukkah] is that it provides a divine ordination to eat deep-fried foods."

To be fair, I'd venture to say that hightailing it to the nearest drive-thru window for an order of fries would not be in keeping with the spirit of Hanukkah (not to mention the trans fat factor).

But done at home, a little bit of fried tenderness every once in a while sounds positively festive and scrumptious. Yesterday morning, I was up to my elbows in doughnut dough and granulated sugar, making a batch of sufganiyot, aka jelly doughnuts.

For a moment, scratch the notion of a Dunkin' variety pastry and think fritters instead. Cute little fried pastries, akin to a beignet, with a smidge of jam, rolled in sugar. Ooh baby. Generally, I am not a compulsive eater, but yesterday the floodgates opened. I couldn't get enough of these things!

What's nice about the recipe below is that you can make it in stages. Sunday night just before bed, I made the dough and allowed it to rise overnight in the fridge. While still in my pajamas yesterday morning, I heated up the oil and rolled out the dough, which is tender and fairly forgiving.

A few notes:

It's really key to heat the oil to 375 degrees and maintaining the temperature. Don't eyeball it; get a thermometer.

Getting the jelly inside doesn't have to be complicated. After the doughnuts have been fried and drained, make a small slit on one side with a paring knife. Use a pastry bag with an "800" series tip or a flavor injector (maybe even a baster) and fill with about 1 teaspoon of your favorite seedless jam (I used plum) and fill the slit with the jammy filling.

Although they are best when still warm, the doughnuts were still doing the job later in the afternoon, and I must say, I have never had such a good day-old doughnut as I did this morning.

Go on, try it for kicks, just once. And if you've got tried-and-true doughnut tricks to share, do so in the comments area below. For a slew of fried pastry variations, check out "The World of Jewish Desserts" by Gil Marks, who dedicates an entire chapter to the subject.

Talk to me for the last time this year, in my grand finale chat of 2006, today at noon.

Jelly Doughnuts
With help from "Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook" and "The World of Jewish Desserts" by Gil Marks

2 tablespoons active dry yeast (or 2 envelopes)
4 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus sugar for rolling
¾ cup water or milk, warmed to 105-110 degrees
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1 /2 tablespoons unsalted butter (Margarine for Kosher; I may also try soy shortening here)
About 1 quart vegetable oil
About ½ cup seedless jam - plum, apicot, raspberry, blueberry

Sprinkle yeast and 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the warmed water or milk and with a fork, mix to dissolve. Allow to get foamy, at least five minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, make a well in the center with flour. Add yeast mixture, yolks, salt, cinnamon, butter and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. With hands, mix to combine and turn out onto lightly floured work susrface. Knead about 5 minutes, ensuring that butter is integrated, and dough is elastic. Alternatively, use a food processor with dough blade, about 2 minutes.

Put dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic and place in refrigerator, allowing it to rise overnight.

Dust work surface with flour. Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to warm up slightly. With hands, press dough and rotate in circular fashion, until you arrive at 1/8 inch thickness. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out circles. Cover with a cloth towel and allow dough circles to rise for an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour oil into a heavy-bottomed pot and heat until very hot, about 375 degrees.

With your hand, form dough circles into balls. Gently drop dough into oil, 4 or 5 at a time, using a slotted spoon. When golden brown, turn dough on other side. Doughnuts will cook in under five minutes. Drain on paper towels.

With a paring knife, make a slit on the side of each doughnut. Using a pastry bag fitted with a "800 series" tip, add a teaspoon of jam at a time, and fill slit with jam. Roll doughnut into a bowl of granulated sugar.

By Kim ODonnel |  December 19, 2006; 9:55 AM ET Desserts , Winter Holidays
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In the ingredients, you say:

1 1 /2 tablespoons unsalted butter (Margarine for Kosher; I may also try soy shortening here)

Butter can be kosher, and since the recipe also calls for milk, these are dairy donuts, so butter would just be another reason why these are dairy. If you were using margarine to make them parve (not dairy) then you'd have to replace the milk as well.

Posted by: DC | December 19, 2006 11:39 AM

Kim, these sound great. Sort of wish you would have posted last week at the start of Hanukkah. That way I could have tried to make these last weekend. This Saturday AM I'm already slotted to make your chocolate bark to bring to friends.

Posted by: healthyg | December 19, 2006 1:25 PM

Just wanted to let you know, that I made the pumpkin upside down cake over the weekend for friends and it was a huge hit. I had several people ask me for the recipe. I did make some modifications- I used only 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1 stick of butter and no oil. I also substituted Splenda for the sugar and used the whole can of pumpkin. It turned out great! I would use some of the oil next time though.


Posted by: yum-o | December 19, 2006 2:29 PM

This is in response to two different questions in your chat today.
Cranberries- I have made no-sugar cranberry sauce substituting Splenda for the sugar. I couldn't tell the difference.
Blender - I have a Cuisinart Duo (I think that's what it's called)that has a blender and a separate food processor attachment, both use the same base. Works great for me and saves some space too. Have a great holiday!

Posted by: CranBearE | December 19, 2006 2:44 PM

Kim, this is in response to the chatter who sought suggestions for someone being treated for cancer. Following are just a few thoughts based on my own experience (6 months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation).

First, you may want to choose relatively bland fare, particularly right around the time of treatment. (I had chemo every 2 weeks, so during my week off I could usually eat pretty much as normal.) Homemade macaroni and cheese, perhaps with mild cheddar or monterey jack, would be good. If you eat meat, stews and chicken and dumplings with subtle seasonings would work really well.

Another thing that really helped was when food smelled very appetizing. At times I didn't have much of an appetite, but when my husband prepared something that filled the apartment with wonderful smells, it really inspired me to eat. So, baked goods and slow-cooked foods were much appreciated.

Finally, you may want to avoid spicy or acidic foods, which may be hard on the already compromised stomach lining. Also, really strong foods, like raw onions, can be problematic because dry mouth can be a side effect of chemo. (I had to start carrying a toothbrush/paste in my handbag, because strong flavors would linger and, ultimately, make me queasy.)

Having someone to nourish me with good food during my treatment made a tremendous difference in my outlook and recovery.
My very best wishes to the chatter and his/her SO.

Posted by: TC | December 19, 2006 2:54 PM

First of all, not all chemos upset the tummy. I've been on both kinds and the side effects were very different. Luckily, I only had the nausea inducing type for 3 months. The important thing is that everyone is different. Some get very mild side effects while others get the nastiest variety. Make sure your SO tells his/her oncologist what's going on so that the doctor can adjust the pre or post chemo meds to lessen the side effects.

I think that the key to getting through it is eating whatever appeals to you. The previous note said something about good smells and I know people that thought everything smelled badly during chemo. I second the bit about bland food. I ate alot of soups, puddings, and ice cream was my best friend. (No, I didn't gain weight on chemo, but some do.)

See if your SO's oncologist will okay a multivitamin. Mine did. I asked about taking one because I knew I wasn't eating right.

Good luck and I hope your sweetie's cancer is one of the very treatable ones.

Posted by: more chemo tips | December 19, 2006 3:24 PM

¾ cup warm or milk, warmed to 105-110 degrees

warm what or milk? maybe something was in the original recipe to keep it dairy free?

Posted by: Flagstaff | December 20, 2006 12:14 AM

Flagstaff: 3/4 cup water or milk is what should have been there. Sorry for the typo!

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | December 20, 2006 7:27 AM

I made sufganiyot last Friday - my first donuts of any kind in a year. I love seasonal food! Some tips I learned from another blog: after mixing, let the dough rise for a while (1 hr regular yeast, 1/2 hr. rapidrise) then spread it out in a plastic lined half sheet pan, cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour, overnight is fine. Then instead of using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into even pieces, form the pieces into balls, cover with a cloth or plastic and let rise till doubled. Then fry at 365. If you're not doing them all at once, just form only what you need and leave the rest well-covered in the fridge.

The recipe I use has potato in it. Makes a lovely donut. Also, some lemon zest and vanilla in the dough are delicious. Plum jam was a really good filling.

Posted by: Fran | December 20, 2006 9:22 AM

I have definetely used a turkey baster for sufganiyot before.

Also, the new thing is to use stuff like nutella and dulce de leche for filling. I personally still like the jam best but just want to put some of those ideas out there.

Posted by: Tamar | December 20, 2006 9:34 AM

i am from india and can really teach you to make lentils and other beans

Posted by: harry | January 5, 2007 4:06 PM

I am offering classes in Indian cooking especially lentils and beans. call me at 240 418 2085

Posted by: harry | January 5, 2007 4:06 PM

great site

Posted by: [3!]realit | January 16, 2007 12:39 PM

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