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Discovering Sufganiyot — Hanukkah Doughnuts

5 of 8 in Series: The Essentials of Making Hanukkah Latkes

To most Jews in North America, latkes mean Hanukkah, but to Israelis, sufganiyot say Hanukkah even more than levivot, the Hebrew word for latkes. Soofganiyot are light doughnuts without holes. They are made plain or filled with jelly. In Israel on Hanukkah, they are everywhere. You can buy fresh ones at bakeries, supermarkets, and even tiny corner grocery stores throughout Israel. In recent years, soofganiyot have become popular in the United States and can be found at American Jewish bakeries during Hanukkah.

Because soofganiyot are fried in oil, they commemorate the Hanukkah miracle just as well as latkes. Of course, plenty of people enjoy both!

Bakery doughnuts are made from yeast-leavened dough. Some home cooks prefer to make easier, faster versions using baking powder.

Soofganiyot probably came to Israel with the immigration of Jews from central Europe. This type of doughnut can be found from Alsace in France to Germany, Austria, Hungary, and other nearby countries.

Hot oil can be a fire hazard and can cause severe burns. To avoid any problems, be sure to observe these points:

  • Fill the saucepan up to halfway with oil. Don't add more, or it may boil over when you add the food.

  • Hold the food near the oil’s surface and put it in gently. Don’t drop the food from high above the oil, or the hot oil may splash on you.

  • As you add the food, the oil will bubble vigorously. Never crowd the pan so the oil will not come up too high.

  • Regulate the heat as needed to keep the oil at the right temperature.

  • Give frying your full attention. Never leave the pan unattended, even for a moment.

  • If possible, keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

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