Coming from first-generation Russian Sephardic Jew immigrant family, we didn’t have homemade fried Israeli-style sufganiyot jelly doughnuts. Then again, we weren’t a very traditional “Jewish-food” kind of family and ate more “Russian-food” (for lack of a better word) like plov (lamb and rice pilaf with carrots) and a savory cabbage stuffed with ground beef instead of brisket with sweet glazed carrots at holiday family gatherings. But I do remember my Mom buying ponchiki (what we call doughnuts in Russian) – a close cousin to the Israeli version – from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn somewhat filled with cherry jam or vanilla creme and usually coated in sugar. As untraditional as we were, doughnuts always made their way to our Chanukah table.
On the homemade front, there was rugelach. My late grandmother would always make her Sephardic version of rugelach – typically made with cream cheese in the dough, hers without – filled with dates and walnuts then dusted with plenty of powdered sugar, just the way I like it. Those were scrumptious; I wish I had the recipe. I bet she knew I would sneak a few while she wasn’t looking. Nevertheless, those big pillowy store-bought jelly doughnuts from the Russian bakery meant Chanukah is here. Ah, big, fat yeasted doughnuts with a heaping amount of cherry jam spilling down my chin to quickly catch…calories didn’t matter with a young metabolism. It was a mess worth making.
Picking up jelly doughnuts is a convenience not all of us have, especially with dietary restrictions, but guess what? These doughnuts are everything you’d want in a jelly filled doughnut. And messy just the way we like it!
After candle lighting last night this happened.
Perfect little bite size doughnuts to get all over your face.
Making these are way easier than they look. Really. You’ll need a food processor to finish the choux for best results, as well as a candy thermometer. Frying oil, lower than the desired temperature results some soggy, greasy food, so it’s a must, but can easily be found in most stores for under 10 bucks.
I have been working on this recipe for some time now to make it yeast-free and xanthan & guar gum free and have finally got it (!!); I use gums or yeast sparingly helps keep my twin boys guts in good shape, so you can imagine how thrilled I was with this version of sufganiyot. The psyllium husk is a brilliant substitute I learned about in the cookbook, Gluten-Free Artisan Bread, in 5 minutes a day, an ingredient worth stocking if you bake often.
I have tried agar agar powder, but it tasted gummy so I nixed that. Egg-free came out very dense, not like a doughnut but more like fried cake. That was a no-go. My oldest son who has a hard time with eggs had 3 doughnuts yesterday because the packaged (egg free) ones in the freezer weren’t as appealing as these. I didn’t know how he would react so I made sure to have activated charcoal on hand, in case of a sneezing attack. Btw, in case you were wondering activated charcoal is given in the event of poison intake; it literally binds to everything and draws it out of the body. Thankfully it wasn’t enough egg to cause a reaction. He feels fine today (yippeeee!!), so maybe, just maybe, he is okay with eggs in recipes as opposed to fried eggs with yolks on the rare side. He has been taking digestive enzymes with every meal, zinc picolinate and lots of krill oil to help fight food intolerances … I think it’s been helping.
With that said and as you probably know, food intolerances (severity varies depending on the level of intolerance per an IgG blood test) are very different from Celiac, an autoimmune disease and food allergies, so a nutritional supplemental approach like this may help but certainly does not mean you should have a little gluten or dairy or whatever food it is that is creating a severe inflammatory response.
These are not your typical Israeli style doughnut or Russian ponchiki, more like the Italian deep fried doughnut bombolone, which resembles more of a doughnut hole that is filled from the top. I went with powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar to resemble sufganiyah and filled it with cherry jam. You can use any jam you like or fill with lemon curd. With the extra flour blend, you can make them both ways.
The one thing that stands out most is texture; the choux dough gives it a beignet, fritter-like texture, a superbly light dough that tastes and feels like a yeasted doughnut with a slightly crisp exterior. Without jelly, they taste exactly like beignets, yet look like zeppoles … a perfectly sweet fusion!
I hope you get to try these little treats and they fulfil your doughnut memories as it did mine.
Here are some visuals as a guide, if needed.
- You will need a candy thermometer.
- Choux Paste:
- 4 large eggs
- 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 9 tablespoons (140g) non-dairy,
soy freebutter (I use Earth Balance soy free spread)
- 4 tablespoons coconut milk (not canned, I use So Delicious Original 4.5 fat
- 4 teaspoons evaporated cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons GF Doughnut & Fritter blend (ingredients below)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Doughnut and Fritter Blend (makes 5½ cups, 615
gramstotal including psyllium husk)
- 2½ cups plus 2 teaspoons (374 g) tapioca starch
- ½ cup (106 g) organic white rice flour
- ⅓ cup plus 3 teaspoons (67 g) potato starch
- ⅓ cup (40 g) sorghum flour
- 8 teaspoons (31 g) ground psyllium husk (sold in health food stores or online, I use Organic India brand)
- 2 cups jam (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, cherry, or a variety) or filling of your choice, I used cherry
- 4 cups grape seed oil or any high heat oil for frying
- 1½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, for coating
- Note: Prep Time includes chill time.
- For the Doughnut and Fritter blend: Measure each flour and psyllium husk into a sifter set in a large bowl. Sift the mixture and repeat several times. I did this ten times to ensure all the different starches and psyllium husk are well distributed. A necessary step for best results.
- To make the choux paste: In a small bowl, crack the eggs; do not whisk them. Sprinkle the baking powder evenly over the eggs to fully cover them, and let it stand for at least 5 minutes, so the egg whites activate the baking powder. It will look like big foamy bubbles.
- Prepare the 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons of Doughnut and Fritter blend, set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed medium stainless steel saucepan, combine the non-dairy butter, coconut milk, sugar, kosher salt, and 5 tablespoons of room temperature or cold water over medium heat and heat until the “butter” has melted and the mixture comes to a gentle boil. It should just gently boil in the middle of the “butter” mixture, not along the edges of the saucepan. Add the 1 cup + 6 tablespoons Doughnut and Fritter Blend and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pot and over, into the dough, for about 1 minute. Once the dough pulls easily from the sides of the pan and leaves a thin veil of butterfat on the bottom, it's ready to come off the heat. It should come together clean and not wet looking.
- Transfer the dough to a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Pulse (just for a second) the dough 20 times to cool it slightly. Lift the lid and pour in the eggs and baking powder (still unwhisked) and pulse (now holding down the pulse button for about 3 seconds each time) about 20 times or until it appears to be a thick, sticky paste. Add the vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Transfer the dough into a clean mixing bowl and seal with plastic wrap directly clinging it on the dough. Refrigerate the dough for 1½ to 2 hours. This will also keep fresh refrigerated for up to 3 days before frying.
- For the jam filling:
- If you are using jam with seeds or chunks of fruit:
- In a small saucepan, melt the jam over medium heat until it is liquid Strain the jam through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard any solids left in the strainer. Set the jam aside to cool completely.
- Transfer the cooled, strained jam to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip (I couldn’t find mine so I used a star tip, which worked fine) and sealed with a paperclip just above the tip. This will prevent any of the jam filling to seep through the pastry tip while waiting for the doughnuts to cool. Set aside. I keep my filled pastry bag standing upright in a large smoothie drink container, then remove the paperclip and press the jam down into the tip just before filling the doughnuts.
- For frying the doughnuts:
- In a cast-iron dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot (or alternatively, in a deep-fryer), heat the oil over medium heat until it registers 375°F (190°C) on a deep-fry thermometer. Line a rimmed baking sheet platter with brown paper bag or paper towels.
- When the oil has reached temperature, use a mini ice cream scooper or dry measure tablespoon to scoop the prepared choux paste then firmly press and release each scoop into the hot oil. Careful not to burn your hands! Working in batches of five or six doughnuts at a time, fry for about 1 minute then turn over for another minute until golden brown with some dark brown crust. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer onto lined baking sheet. Repeating with remaining dough.
- Remove from oil (leaving the heat on at 375°F (190°C)) and let it cool for 1 minute then add all (if pot is large enough, or in batches) back into the hot oil for another 20 seconds. A necessary step to ensure the dough has cooked through.
- Note: Do not overcrowd the doughnuts, or allow the oil temperature to drop below 375°F (190°C). This will yield a crispy doughnut on the outside and tender, yeast-like consistency on the inside.
- Meanwhile, pour the confectioners (powdered) sugar into a wide bowl making sure there aren’t any lumps (sift if needed).
- When the doughnuts are cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes), roll a few at a time, generously, in the sugar to fully coat. Pierce a doughnut with the pastry bag tip and pipe about 1 tablespoon of filling into the doughnut. Repeat to fill the remaining.
- Ideally, these doughnuts are best eaten the same day. If the doughnuts residual frying oil absorbed the powdered sugar before serving, hold each in the confectioners (powdered) sugar to coat again. If you have any leftovers, store in a brown paper bag or in a loosely covered container on the counter for a day or two. These are not freezer-friendly, but as noted in the recipe, the choux dough can be made up to three days in advance.
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