If the exact origin of holiday foods such as latkes or donuts is up for debate, then this mythology has a clear origin story: 1992, in the kitchen of famed cafe “Orna and Ella” on Shenkin Street in Tel Aviv. These sweet potato pancakes from Orna and Ella appeared on the menu from day one, and the combination of the soft texture, the sweet taste and the refreshing sauce served on the side made them a crowd favorite. They were served for 25 years, until the restaurant closed, and according to estimates, the kitchen fried about 1000 sweet potato churros a day; a little less than 10 million churros in total.
The recipe for Orna and Ella’s sweet potato pancakes was published in the cookbook in 2006 and almost immediately became a regular dish for Hanukkah celebrations in many homes. The delicate texture is achieved thanks to the use of sweet potato puree – which makes the batter sticky and a little challenging to handle. The batter is not rolled by hand, but poured into the pan, an operation that requires a little skill. Instead of trying to form symmetrical circles, we poured batter into the oil in the form of churros. This technique is easier, and yields sweet potato churros that are wonderfully soft on the inside – just like the original pancakes – but with a crispy coating. In the second attempt, we incorporated a little of the sauce into the batter and the result was simply amazing: fresh, beautiful and incredibly churros.
Ingredients for Sweet Potato Churros
- 2.2 lbs (1 kilogram) sweet potato
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- ¾ cup (105 grams) flour
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- pinch ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- ¼ bunch chives chopped
To serve (optional):
- sour cream
1. Heat the oven to maximum heat and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Arrange sweet potatoes on the parchment paper and roast for 25-40 minutes, until they soften and a knife pierces their flesh easily. Take out and set aside to cool.
3. Empty the contents of the sweet potatoes into a bowl and mash to a smooth puree. Mix with the rest of the churros ingredients.
4. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a serrated tip with a diameter of ½ and inch (1½ cm).
5. Heat oil for deep frying in a large, wide pot: if you have a thermometer, heat the oil to 350F (180C) degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, put a small piece of dough into the oil; it should gently bubble around the dough.
6. Drop churros of the desired length into the hot oil. Fry for 6-8 minutes, until the churros are plump and golden-brown. Turn the churros while frying, so that they brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
7. Serve hot with sour cream (optional).