Saturday, December 20, 2014

Time to Make the Sufganiyot - Easy Donuts, Part I

Hanukkah is in full swing right now.  It started at sundown on Tuesday, December 16, and will end at sundown on December 24, just in time for Christmas Eve.  Last year Hanukkah was so early it fell on Thanksgiving weekend, and we called that holiday season "Thanksgivukkah", and that would have been the perfect holiday for a Turducken.  Too bad I didn't think of it in time, but as you know, when it comes to me and Turducken, I am always a day late and a dollar short.

Hannukkah is the polar opposite of Tisha B'Av, which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem, and the expulsion of the Jews from the Land of Israel. It is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, and it is a fast day.  If we're going to be sad, we may as well have a headache.  Hanukkah is a happy, snappy holiday, commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple.  It is most definitely not a fasting holiday.  It is a major eating holiday. Heartwarming foods filled with love and cholesterol.  It's all about the oil, like a lot of things in the Middle East, so with the symbolism worthy of Sigmund Freud, we eat foods that have been fried in oil.

If you're Ashkenazic like me, that means potato latkes - grated potato combined with onion, egg, and flour or matzo meal, formed into patties, and fried in oil, till GBD (according to Alton Brown, that's Golden Brown and Delicious).  If you're Sephardic, you are a fan of this gentleman:

Or as they are called in Hebrew, sufganiyot.  The fried kind, of course. Traditionally jelly doughnuts, but no one is seriously going to turn down an original glazed Krispy Kreme.

Now in addition to fried goodies, it is also something of a tradition to eat dairy during Hanukkah in commemoration of the Jewish heroine, Judith. Cheesecake, cheese blintzes, cheese latkes, that sort of thing.  If you can fry your cheese dish, so much the better!  Sour cream is also an important part of the cheese experience.  Breakstone sour cream, for instance.  Hanukkah cheese heads are crazy about this guy:


(Of course the actor who played both Fred the Baker and Sam Breakstone at around the same time, back in the eighties, was Jewish.  I bet Hanukkah was his favorite holiday.)

I almost always make potato latkes around Hanukkah, and that's still my plan, but I wanted to try something totally new.  Time to make the sufganyiot, folks.

This recipe has been around a long time.  I first saw these biscuit doughnuts being prepared by Paula Deen years ago.  When I went looking for the recipe today, I came across a couple of glazing options that were even easier than the  doughnut, which is pretty darn easy.

2 tubes of Pillsbury's Grand Biscuits, Buttermilk
Canola oil for frying
1 tub prepared frosting (I used Pillsbury vanilla.  It was already colored a bright Hanukkah blue)
1/2 capful almond extract

Lay out the biscuits on aluminum foil or wax paper.  Cut out the center with a cookie cutter or a bottle cap.  Save the centers to make donut holes.

Preheat about a half-inch of oil to 350 degrees.  I used my electric fry pan, but you can do this on the stovetop.  Carefully place the cut biscuits into the hot oil.  Do not overcrowd the pan, because these are going to puff up.  When the first side is done, carefully turn each donut over.  I used Korean chopsticks to do this.  You can use tongs, two forks, even a spatula.

Remove the donuts to a wire rack set over foil and then paper towels.  Then add the almond extract to the frosting and stir well.  Microwave the frosting for 30 second, stir well, and pour into a bowl that is wide enough in which to dip the donuts.  Dip the tops, return to the rack, and sprinkle on any toppings like sprinkles, nuts, coconut, etc.  Let the icing set.


I brought these in for our Children's Legal Services Holiday Party.

Party animals, every last one of them.

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