Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiot)

Hanukkah is here, and although part of my family is Jewish, I never celebrated this beautiful holiday. I always explained to people that religiously speaking, growing up I was confused. My Dad’s side of the family is Jewish, but he never had a bar mitzvah. When my grandfather realized that my dad was only doing it for the presents, he refused to give it to him! My mother’s side of the family is Iranian, half-Jewish and half-Bahaii. We left Iran in 1978, when I was about seven years old, and many relatives were stuck in Iran during the revolution and the transformation into an Islamic Republic. During this time, I was growing up in Houston, TX. My mother needed spiritual comfort and would drag us, um, take us to the local Presbyterian Church. I spent most of my time not in Sunday school, but at the nursery, holding babies! But, despite my religious confusion, I turned out to be a very spiritual person, although with no formal religious affiliation.

When I lived in Miami, I got explore my Jewish roots through food! I ate latkes, blintzes, Sufganiot, you name it! And, I LOVED IT! Now, a lot of it is not necessarily healthy, but it was for a special occasion, so why not?

With Hanukkah, the foods are all about the oils used, so most everything is fried. Last year, I made potato latkes for my family and they LOVED these crunchy patties. This year, I discovered Sufganiot, or the Jelly Doughnut! Having never attempted make a doughnut before, I was definitely hesitant. How much work is involved here?

Well, like most doughs, this recipe required yeast, and it was similar making pizza dough. But, when it came to rise, after an hour and a half, my dough still looked sad. I realized that my house was too cold!! ha! ha! Yes, despite living in Southern California we had a gloomy, cold weekend and my normally warm kitchen was 67ºF. I quickly heat up my double oven to 300ºF and put the dough in the LOWER oven which warmed up nicely. In an hour, my dough ballooned and I was happy again!

I didn’t make traditional doughnut shapes, but kept them easy, little balls. Keep them small by using about 1-tablespoon of dough so that the inside cooks thoroughly. I dropped balls in the hot oil and watched the balls brown beautifully and puff up. After a frying in the oil for 3-4 minutes, I drained the doughnuts on paper towels and then doused them with powdered sugar. When they cooled, I used my squeeze bottle, poked a hole into the doughnut with the bottle’s tip, and squeezed my strawberry jam inside.

These really were delicious. My only complaint was that I saved a dozen or so for the next day, and they did NOT keep well. So, if you are going to make them, make sure you eat them the same day. This was a fun snack for the kids on a cold wintery weekend. And they were kid-sized. As I was frying away, my little ones would sneak behind me and grab a little ball of sugary sweetness.

For all of my Jewish friends and family, Happy Hanukkah!

Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiot)

This little doughnuts are perfect for Channukah and can be served plain, glazed or filled with jam. Recipe adapted from Gourmet, October 2003


  • 1 cup milk, whole
  • 2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 oz active dry yeast
  • 2 TBS water, warm
  • 3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, large, lightly beaten
  • 10 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam


  1. In a 1-quart heavy saucepan, bring to a simmer over low heat:
    • 1 cup milk, whole
  2. Remove from heat and stir in:
    • 2 TBS granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
  3. Cool milk to lukewarm (about 90°F).
  4. While milk is cooling, combine in a small bowl:
    • 1/4 oz active dry yeast
    • 2 TBS water , warm
  5. Stir until creamy, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. NOTE: If yeast doesn't foam, discard and start over with fresh yeast.
  6. Pour milk mixture and yeast mixture into a large bowl and combine with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula with:
    • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 TBS vegetable oil
    • 2 eggs, large , lightly beaten
  7. Mix until you form a very soft dough.
  8. Spread over your work surface:
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  9. Put soft dough on top, scraping it from bowl with a rubber spatula.
  10. Knead dough, incorporating all of flour from work surface.
  11. Add additional flour, if needed to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes.
  12. Transfer dough to another large bowl and sprinkle lightly with additional flour.
  13. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  14. Line large rimmed baking sheet with double layer of paper towels.
  15. Pour into large deep saucepan to reach depth of 2 inches:
    • 10 cup vegetable oil
  16. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan and heat oil to 360°F to 370°F.
  17. Working in batches of 5 or 6 doughnuts, scoop up one tablespoon of dough and drop into the hot oil.
  18. Fry until puffed and golden, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes per batch.
  19. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to prepared sheet and drain.
  20. Doughnuts can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm on same sheet in 350°F oven about 15 minutes.
  21. In a small plate or bowl pour in:
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  22. Roll each doughnut in powdered sugar.
  23. Transfer the doughnuts to a cookie rack set over a sheet pan to cool.
  24. When cool, place in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip or plastic squeeze bottle with tip:
    • 1/2 cup strawberry jam
  25. Using the tip, poke a small hole in the side of each doughnut and fill the center with 1 tsp of jam.


Serving Suggestions: You can also roll the dough until 1/2-inch thick and cut out 3-inch circles. Let dough circles rest for 10 minutes, then fry in the hot oil. Follow Step 24 to fill with jelly. For a richer filling, try using Bavarian Cream.

Cooking Tips: You can also roll the cooked doughnuts in granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Or, try a honey glaze: Whisk 1 1/2 cups honey, 3/4 cup water, and 1 TBS cinnamon in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until syrup comes to boil. Remove pan from heat. Dip warm doughnuts into honey syrup and pile onto platter. Pour remaining syrup into bowl. Serve doughnuts with remaining syrup.

For a sugar glaze: Whisk together 2 cups powdered sugar with 1/4 cup of water. Dip doughnuts into glaze until covered. Transfer to a cooling rack set over a sheet pan to cool.

For a chocolate glaze: Melt 1/3 cup butter and 4 oz bittersweet chocolate in a saucepan until melted, remove from heat. Whisk in 2 cups confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually stir in 1/4 cup warm water until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Dip the doughnuts in the glaze.Transfer to a cooling rack set over a sheet pan to set.

Prep Time:

Yield: 34 doughnuts

Cook Time:

Total Time:

Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiot) Detail

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