Sufganiyot Donuts. Photography: Anatoly Michaello. Styling: Diana Linder
Sufganiyot Donuts. Photography: Anatoly Michaello. Styling: Diana Linder
Recipe

Classic Eastern European Donuts

Classic German yeast donuts from the legendary Cafe Max in Jerusalem, which opened in the seventies and turned the jam donut into an art form

Cafe Max Jerusalem was one of the most respected coffee shops in the city for quite a few decades. Its owner, Ben Ami Max, had an impressive line of Austro-Hungarian and German pastries, as well as a great deal of personal charm and style, that he used to turn the small cafe on Ben Yehuda Street into one of the most popular and lively places in the city. Max’s donuts were particularly desirable and quickly disappeared, no matter how many of them were fried in the kitchen, and there were years when a Jerusalemite who managed to get Max’s donuts for Hanukkah was a person of envy. As a result, the recipe was a well-guarded secret, but the waitresses- most of whom were from Ordea (a city in Romania)- passed it between each other and sometimes gave it to close friends sworn to secrecy, and that’s how the recipe for the donuts came into the hands of Eva Naftali, who was lucky enough to know one of the waitresses, and from whom it came down to us and was published for the first time.

Ingredients for Classic Donuts

  • 2.2 lbs (1 kilogram) flour
  • 1½ tablespoons (15 grams) Dry yeast
  • ½ cup (100 grams) Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk lukewarm
  • 2 tablespoons cognac or rum
  • 7 oz (200 grams) butter room temperature, cut into cubes + more for greasing
  • oil for frying
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting
  • strawberry jam or apricot, without fruit, for filling

Instructions

  • 1. Mix flour, dry yeast, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment on low speed. While kneading, add eggs, milk and cognac or rum and mix until you get a smooth dough. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and gradually add soft butter, one tablespoon at a time, until it is incorporated into the dough. Continue kneading for another 5 minutes after fully incorporating the butter, until you get a soft, shiny and slightly sticky dough.  

  • 2. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl, cover with a plastic bag and let rise for about an hour at room temperature, until the dough doubles in volume (or let rise overnight in the refrigerator).

  • 3. Grease a work surface with a little butter and transfer the dough to it. Divide the dough into 30 pieces weighing about 2.6 oz (75 grams) each. Roll each piece into a ball and grease them with butter to keep them from drying out.

  • 4. Arrange the balls evenly on a well-greased pan and let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled in size.

  • 5. Heat oil for deep frying in a large, wide pot: if you have a thermometer, heat the oil to 355F (180C) degrees. If not, throw a small piece of dough in the oil - the oil should gently bubble around it.

  • 6. Fry the donuts in batches, 3-4 donuts in each batch, about 3 minutes per side, until they turn brown. Remove the donuts to a plate lined with paper towels.

  • 7. Transfer jam to a piping bag with a piping tip or a large syringe. Fill each donut with jam, until the jam peeks out a little from the donuts.  

  • 8. Dust the top of the donuts with powdered sugar.

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