Monday, December 22, 2008

What was the bowl full of jelly for?

Jelly doughnuts, natch. Although latkes get most of the attention during Hanukkah, my friend Elaine says that her favorite winter holiday food is the traditional jelly doughnuts. She did a nice piece on it a couple of years ago for Capitol Public Radio in Sacramento, and you can listen to it by clicking here.

Here's a recipe for the treats, reprinted with permission from The Book of Jewish Food (Knopf, Inc.).

Jelly doughnuts
Makes 12

The doughnut was adopted in Israel to celebrate Hanukkah because it is fried in oil.

1 teaspoon dried yeast
¼ cup lukewarm milk or water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons sour cream or vegetable oil
A pinch of salt
2 or 3 drops of vanilla extract
1⅔ cups flour, plus a little more if necessary
Oil for deep-frying
Apricot, red-currant, or raspberry jam
Confectioners' sugar

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk or water with 1 teaspoon of sugar and leave for 10 minutes, until it froths.

Beat the rest of the sugar with the egg and the yolk. Add the sour cream or oil, the salt, vanilla, and yeast mixture, and beat very well. Fold in the flour gradually, and continue beating until you have a soft, smooth, and elastic dough, adding more flour if necessary. Then knead for 5 minutes, sprinkling with a little flour if it is too sticky. Coat the dough with oil by pouring a drop in the bowl and turning the dough in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Knead the dough again for a few minutes, then roll out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin to ¼-inch thickness. With a pastry cutter, cut into 2-inch rounds. Make a ball out of the scraps so as not to waste them, roll out, and cut into rounds. Put a teaspoon of jam in the center of a round of dough, brush the rim with a little water to make it sticky, and cover with another round. Press the edges together to seal. Continue with the rest of the rounds and arrange them on a floured tray. Leave them to rise for about 30 minutes.

Heat 1½ inches of oil in a saucepan to medium hot. Drop in the doughnuts, a few at a time. Fry in medium-hot oil for 3-4 minutes with the lid on until brown, then turn and fry the other side for 1 minute more. Drain on paper towels. Serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. They are at their best when still warm and fresh.

An easier way is to fry a thicker round of dough-about ½-inch thick-and when it is cool enough to handle, cut a slit with a pointed, serrated knife and put in a teaspoonful of jam.

From "The Book of Jewish Food," Copyright 1996 by Claudia Roden. Reprinted here with permission from Knopf, Inc.

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