A sufganiyah is a jelly-filled doughnut widely cooked in Israel and Jewish families.    The name is from the Hebrew word sfog which means sponge; this pertains to the sponge-like texture of the small ball of pastry that is deep-fried, filled with jelly, and the sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Sufganiyot is a common pastry served during the Hannukah seasona, and it symbolizes the burning oil lamps that are celebrated during the Jewish Festival of Lights.

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tbsp. more if needed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 7 tbsp. butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup apricot or strawberry preserves
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying (at least 5 cups)
  • Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Pour 3/4 cup lukewarm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let this mixture stand for ten minutes.
  2. Spoon the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add remaining sugar, eggs, yolks, butter, vanilla extract, remaining water, and salt. Mix with a mixer dough hook or by hand with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are blended. Add the dissolved yeast and mix with the dough hook at low speed or with a spoon until ingredients form a dough.
  3. Knead at medium speed, scraping down the dough occasionally, for five minutes. If you are kneading by hand, work on a dry, lightly floured surface for five minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add 2 tablespoons of flour. Knead for five to ten minutes more to form a smooth ball.
  4. Put the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and turn it to coat with oil. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick, flouring the dough occasionally. Using a 2-1/2 to 3 inch cutter, cut the dough into twenty-eight rounds. Put 1/2 to 1 teaspoon apricot or strawberry preserves in the center of half the rounds. Lightly brush the rim of each round with water, then set a plain round on top. With floured fingers, firmly press the edges all around to seal it. Transfer this "sandwich" immediately to a floured tray. If it has stretched out to an oval, plump it gently back into a round shape. Continue with the remaining dough. Cover the assembled pastries with a slightly damp cloth and let them rise in a warm place for thirty minutes.
  6. In a large, heavy skillet or deep fryer pan, heat the oil to 350 degrees or until it bubbles gently around a small test piece of dough. Carefully slide in four doughnuts or enough to fill the pan without crowding. Fry the doughnuts for about three minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Pat tops gently with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, but don't serve these immediately, because the jam is boiling hot.

The recipe is adapted from Faye Levy's International Jewish Cookbook (Warner Books). Makes 14 large doughnuts.