Archive for the 'sufganyot' Category


Gill Marks – Ponchkes, Bolas, Bumuelos, Buñuelos, Sufganyot, Doughnuts – A History

I arrived in Richmond, VA, (from Uruguay) in 1962 as a teenager. Every Shabbos and yom tov we would davven at the same shul as the Marks family. One of their kids was a very serious young man by the name of Gil, yes, that same Gil who left us on Friday, December 5 (Yud Gimmel Kislev) past. I interviewed Gil Marks (alav haShalom) a few times over the years, and it wasn’t until the second time I had him on my show that we recognized each other. Gil was an incredible researcher, historian, a good friend and a best selling author of 5 books including James Beard Award Winner Olive Trees and Honey (A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World) and his much praised, much applauded, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Shortly before Gil Marks‘ untimely demise, at 62, he corrected the galleys of his 6th book. I hope we will see it published soon.

Following is a video in which I interviewed Gil at the Kosher Food and Wine Extravaganza 2012:


As we are now in the third day of Chanukkah, I felt it appropriate to check out his Encyclopedia of Jewish Food on the subject of sufganyot. Why? Because no one else has ever been so thorough in describing our traditional foods and their origins as Gil Marks.

From pages 256-257

[..]Fried foods became a Hanukkah tradition in recognition of the miracle of oil. Sephardim and Mizrachim typically prepare various fried pastries or doughnouts (bimuelos or lokmas). In many Sephardic communities, members of wealthier families bring trays of sweets to less fortunate ones. In Morocco and Egypt these trays include zangula, deep fried batter poured into hot oil in a thin spiral, similar to Amish funnel cakes, and coated with a combination of either cinnamon and sugar or honey. [..]Turkish families serve a dessert similar to a doughnut called burmuelos. [..]Italians make fritelle, deep-fried diamond shaped pieces of dough that are dipped in honey.

[..]Ashkenazim fry latkes (“pancakes,” levivot in modern Hebrew), blintzes and doughnuts.  [..]In the twentieth century, the Polish jelly doughnut ponchik made its way to Israel, taking on the name sufganyot, and subsequently emerged as the most popular Israeli Hanukah food, sold throughout the eight-day festival at almost every bakery and market.


As a kid, growing up in Uruguay, we had two types of sufganyotBolas and Buñuelos. Gil wrote, as follows, in his Encyclopedia [page 58]:

[..] The original medieval bola consisted of croquettes of yeast dough or mashed soaked bread deep-fried in oil, the round shape its Ladino name [bola=ball]. Over the centuries the simple fritters developed into an assortment of both fried and baked cakes and pastries.

Bolas, in my days, were fried balls of sweet dough sprinkled with powdered sugar which – occasionally – came with a thin layer of chocolate or dulce de leche, on top.

Buñuelos (again, during my childhood and teenage days in Uruguay) or Bimuelos (or Bumuelos, or Birmuelos), as Sephardim refer to them – Ponchkes, my Galitzianer Poilische mother (ob”m) would call them – as Chanukkah came around – would be filled with jelly, custard or (my favorite!) dulce de leche. As kids we couldn’t wait until the next year to enjoy the filled buñuelos! 

On page 51, he writes:

Bimuelos emerged as a Sephardic cultural icon. A very popular song from Israel is the Ladino “Vayehi Miketz  Burmuelos con Miel,” a parody from a woman’s point of view of the biblical tale of Joseph interpreting the dreams of Paraoh, which is read in the synagogue on the Sabbath of Hanukah: ” ‘And it at the end”; Burmuelos with honey; Pharaoh made them, and Joseph ate them, Pharaoh fell into the river and Joseph went to the bath, Pharaoh went to the cemetery, and Joseph went to the wedding.”

In Israel, I’ve enjoyed sufganyot filled with jelly. Hardly anything is more delicious than a sufganyah that is still warm…


As Gill Marks writes, the sufganyah has been around since the late 15th century [page 565]:

In 1485 the cookbook Kuchenmeisterei (Mastery in the Kitchen) was published in Nuremberg, Germany, and in 1532 was translated into Polish as Kichmistrzostwo. Besides serving as a resource fot postmedieval central Europeean cooking and being one of the first cookbooks to be run off Johannes Gutenberg;s revolutionary printing press, this tome contained what was then a revolutionary recipe, the first record of a jelly doughnut, “Gefülte Krapfen.” This early version consisted of a bit of jam sandwiched between two rounds of yeast bread and deep-fried… [..]Whether the anonymous author actually invented the idea or recounted a new practice, the concelpt of filling a doughnut spread around the globe.

[..]At that time, sugar was still very expensive and rare in Germany, so savory dishes were much more practical, even for the middle class. In the sixteenth century the price of sugar fell with the introduction of Caribbean sugar plantations. Soon sugar and, in turn, fruit preserves proliferated in Europe, all the more so with the introduction of sugar beet factories in the nineteenth century. Within a century of the jelly doughnut \’s initial appearance in Germany, every northern European country from Denmark to Russia had adopted the pastry, although it was still a rare treat generally associated with specific holidays. Much later, someone in Germany invented a metal syringe with which to inject jelly into already fried doughnuts , making the treat that much easier, neater and diverse. In the twentieth century, machines were developed to inject doughnuts two at a time or in mass production. [..]

Personally, I find food history and traditions fascinating, I can easily understand why Gill Marks loved that field so much. His friendliness, his encyclopedic knowledge and readiness to answer any questions, are sorely missed already…



Donuts, Donuts, Donuts – It’s Chanuka!

Chanu2Tonight we lit the second Chanuka candle and what better way to celebrate than with our dear friend Geila Hocherman‘s ( recipe for doughnuts?

© 2012 Geila Hocherman. All Rights Reserved
It’s Chanuka and Jewish tradition calls for oil fried dishes, such as latkes – potato pancakes; sufganyot – jelly-filled doughnuts and more. Jelly filled doughnuts never appealed to me, so here is my version of doughnuts.

(Videos to follow)

Makes 36 small donuts

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup milk – cow, soy, almond, and cashew…warmed
  • 2 ½ tbsp. shortening- softened
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • oil for frying

1.Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix well until there are no lumps, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
2.In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stirring with a wooden spoon. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double. ,(You can also put in in the refrigerator for a slow overnight rise. Just bring the dough to room temperature before continuing.) Dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains. About 1 hour.
3.Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a floured 3-inch cutter. * (See note) Let doughnuts sit out to rise again until double. Cover loosely with a cloth.
4.Heat oil in a deep fryer or large heavy skillet to 350 degrees F. Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack. Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess. Keep a cookie sheet or tray under racks for easier clean up.

Optional glaze

  • 2 cups
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • 1-tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2-4 tablespoons of water
  1. Place sugar. Corn syrup and vanilla in a bowl and mix well. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Continue until you reach desired consistency.  It should be liquid but not runny.
  2. Submerge doughnut half way, turn over, and place on a cooling rack to set

NOTE: At this point the formed doughnuts can be refrigerated overnight, brought to room temperature the next day, and then rise before baking.  You can also freeze them on a cookie sheet.


When we taped the video for this recipe at Geila’s kitchen I had the pleasure of tasting these doughnuts, I made them myself and served them this evening. I found them easy to make and utterly delicious!



Sufganyot! – Part 2

Chanukah may be a minor festival, but the concepts it embodies are major. Jews, that stiff-necked people, were living under the control of Seleucide Greeks. While the conquerors were generally tolerant of other religions, provided the conquered people accepted the ostensibly superior culture, the Jews – for the most part – refused to bend, to compromise, to accept “progress.” They stuck to their beliefs, even when threatened with death. What prompted these people to follow an invisible God, a God they were proscribed from making statutes of, a God who placed so many positive and negative commandments upon them?

A German Menorah, from the late 19th or early 20th century.Photo from the LA Times.

A German Menorah, from the late 19th or early 20th century.
Photo from the LA Times.

For generations, the Jews were witnesses to the Almighty’s open and not so open miracles, they had no need of wood, stone or metal statutes to feel His presence. His presence surrounded them constantly! Their ragtag army, now fought the world’s mightiest power and won. Was that not enough of a miracle? Yet we do not celebrate Chanukah as a merely nationalistic day of independence. No, we celebrate instead the rekindling of the Temple Menorah, the rebirth of our faith.

We celebrate the fact that the Temple in Jerusalem had been purified of foreign idolatrous contamination. We celebrate the fact that just as it seemed that we would have to wait eight days for new consecrated olive oil to be prepared, miraculously a small flask just enough for one day’s kindling was found and yet it lasted a full eight days. The Greeks had combed through the Temple to loot its treasures, to take away anything that could be used by the stubborn Jews to worship that God, and yet throughout the years this small flask had gone unnoticed until truly committed Jews found it. Was it merely that they looked harder, or was that itself a miracle?

As a result of olive oil’s power in restoring us a nation, His nation, we traditionally eat fried foods on Chanukah, here is a recipe for traditional “Sufganyot,” jelly filled donuts:


(Adapted from Perfect Jewish, page 241)

Traditional sufganyot. - jelly filled doughnuts,

Traditional sufganyot. – jelly filled doughnuts. — Photo from: Perfect Jewish, page 240

Makes 24 doughnuts


  • 1 tablespoon easy-blend dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons very soft margarine or vegetable oil (for a dairy version you may use sour cream)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • plum, apricot, red currants or black currant jelly
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. Stir the yeast, flour, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a standard electric, mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the center. Add the milk, egg, yolk, and margarine (or sour cream for dairy sufganyot). Beat on low speed for 2 minutes, or until combined. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic and leaves the side of the bowl. Cover with a dish towel and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until doubled in volume.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to deflate adding a little more flour if the dough is sticky. Divide the dough in half and roll out each piece to 3/4″ thick.
  3. Working with one dough half at a time, using a 2″ cutter, stamp out as many rounds as pssible. Knead the scraps together, reroll and stamp out more rounds, you should form at lease 24. Cover with the dish towel and leave for 20 minutes, or until puffed and slightly risen.
  4. Heat at least 3″ of oil in a deep-fat fryer, wok or large pan to 375 F. or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Working in batches, fry the doughnits, covered for 3 – 4 minutes, or until golden. Turn and fry on the other side for 3 minutes or until well colored. Using a skimmer, or slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
  5. Fit a small pastry bag, with a 1/2″ plain tip, and fill with jelly. Put the sugar into a bowl. When the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, make a small slit in the side of each, insert the tip into the center, and squeeze about 1 teaspoon of jelly. Drop each filled doughnut into the sugar and turn to coat completely. Transfer to a wire rack.

Enjoy, gentle reader, Enjoy!



Chag Chanukah same’ach!!


Bayamim Ha’em, Bazman Hazeh

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Jeff Nathan’s Rosemary Potato Latkes with Honey Drizzle

A Freilachen Chanukkah – Chag Chanuka Sameach

Sufganyot – Hanuka Doughnuts — Part 1

Rekindling the Soul

Jayne Cohen’s Jewish Holiday Cooking

Cherry Heering and Chanuka


Sufganyot – Hanuka Doughnuts — Part 1

In our everlasting quest for the best, we constantly scour the web to find new recipes. With Chanuka about to start tomorrow evening we felt great sufganyot recipes are in order.

This recipe comes from:

Hanukkah Doughnuts – Sufganiot (Parve)

Sufganiot are deep-fried jelly doughnuts that are traditionally eaten during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. Sufganiot are especially popular in Israel. The oil used to fry the doughnuts are reminiscent of the oil that miraculously burned, according to the Hanukkah story, in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.


  • 25 grams (1 ounce) yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups flour
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) margarine, melted
  • dash of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups water (room temperature)
  • jelly (strawberry is recommended)
  • oil for frying (canola is recommended)
  • powdered sugar


1. To make the dough: Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, cover, and wait until it rises. In another bowl, mix 3 cups of flour with the melted margarine, salt, sugar and egg yolks. Combine the yeast mixture with the flour mixture. Slowly add water while stirring. When batter is smooth, cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit and rise.
2. To make the doughnuts: After the batter has risen, pour it onto a floured surface and roll it out. Use a glass with a small opening to cut out circles of the dough. Place a drop of jelly in the middle of each circle, and then cover with another circle of dough. Make sure that 2 circles attach well to form a closed ball with jelly in the middle. Cover the doughnuts with a towel and let rise.
3. To fry the doughnuts: Heat oil in a deep pot until very hot. Drop the doughnuts into the oil and fry on both sides until brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

TIP: These sufganiot are only good fresh. After you make the dough, only fry a few at a time. Store the rest of the dough in the refrigerator.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy


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