The Miracle of Hanukkah Donuts
What do donuts have to do with the Jewish festival of lights? It all goes back to a miraculous event. The Hanukkah celebration dates to 164 B.C.E., when the Second Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated following a fierce struggle against Syrian oppressors. Following the battle, the Jewish victors lit the temple's menorah but only had enough oil to keep it burning for one night. And then a great miracle happened there: The tiny supply of oil lasted for eight days and eight nights.
What better way to honor the miracle of the oil than to celebrate Hanukkah with foods fried in oil galore? Sufganiyot is the classic Hanukkah treat—a fluffy, yeasted donut filled with jam or custard and dusted with sugar. Stick with tradition or try Doughnut Twists dipped in Chocolate-Brandy Sauce. If you don't feel like waiting around for yeast donuts to rise, try these simple apple fritter rings or apple fritter bites, which both get their fluff from baking powder.
It's All About the Oil
Handling the frying oil correctly is the secret to excellent donuts and fritters. First, choose the right kind of oil. Even though the original Hanukkah miracle was all about the olive oil, we don't recommend that variety for deep frying. Instead, choose any neutral-tasting vegetable oil, such as safflower.
Use a Thermometer
You need to heat the oil correctly before you start frying. Use a thermometer to make sure the temperature is just right. Recipes vary, but the sweet spot is usually about 375 degrees F. Be patient and don't jump the gun: If you put dough in oil that's not hot enough, it will start absorbing the oil and you'll end up with heavy, greasy donuts. When the oil reaches the correct temperature, carefully slip some donuts into the pan—but don't overcrowd or the temperature will drop too fast.
Once the donuts are deliciously browned on both sides, you just need to be patient for a little bit longer: The final step is to let the finished donuts drain on a wire rack to release any excess oil and to allow them to cool without getting soggy from their own steam.
Ready to celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah? Let Thomas Joseph walk you through the process of making Jelly-Filled Doughnuts in this step-by-step video.