From the dense to the fluffy, from the original jelly flavor to vanilla pudding, the sufganiyot have been evaluated, and this year's results are in. So roll up your sleeves, unclog your arteries, and celebrate Hanukka by consuming your fair share of that long-lasting miraculous oil.
Every sufganiya packs 400 to 600 calories, meaning that an average-sized person needs to walk for more than two hours to burn off just one Hanukka treat. Rather than subject you to sub-par sufganiyot and needless exercise, a team of In Jerusalem judges and tasters patrolled the streets of the capital, covering neighborhoods high and low to hunt down the best sufganiya.
And we aren't the only ones buying dozens of donuts. Last year, the Manufacturers Association of Israel reported that sufganiyot sales increased by three percent, or approximately 18 million donuts, despite the recession. In 2007, sufganiyot sales fell by 4%.
So without further fanfare, here are the 2009 Sufganiyot Results:
Overall rating: 8.1
Dough: 7.8, Filling 7.2, Aesthetic 10
No surprises here: the fanciest sufganiyot in Israel also topped our list as the best. The bakery chain's offerings are so varied they have a separate menu just for their sufganiyot, with calorie counts thoughtfully included. The dough was one of the lightest tasted, and the gorgeous decorations on top make the doughnuts look more like works of art than fried goodness. There was not quite enough filling in the donut, but the exotic flavors certainly are appealing.
NIS 4.5-NIS 8, vodka melon, macciato, banana, halva, pistachio, pastry cream, chocolate whipped cream, chocolate chocolate, sprinkles, caramel, strawberry.
Mamilla Mall. Tel: 623-1553.
2. NE'EMAN BAKERY
Overall rating: 7.6
Dough: 6.6; Filling: 8.3; Aesthetics: 8.3
From jelly to strawberry pudding filling, the sufganiyot at the popular coffee shop/bakery chain were a tasters' favorite this year, thanks to beautiful presentation and unique flavors. Scoring an impressive 8.3 for both the filling and aesthetics, the Ne'eman sufganiyot were crowd pleasers. The only downside to these sufganiyot was the dough, which many said was "too oily."
NIS 4 - NIS 6. Jelly, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cappuccino.
Various locations around Jerusalem.
3. BUREKAS IMA
Overall rating: 6.7
Dough: 6.2; Filling: 7.1; Aesthetics: 6.5
This bakery in Talpiot is known for its wonderful hallot and burekas. To the surprise of many, it is also home to stupendous sufganiyot. The donuts were devoured quickly by tasters, who said that the sufganiyot had "the best filling, really genuine instead of artificial" with "real strawberries for sure" and "the most jelly per square inch."
NIS 3-NIS 5. Jelly, caramel.
Rehov Rivka 17. Tel: 671-4078
Overall rating: 6.3
Dough: 6.4; Filling: 5.9; Aesthetics: 6.9
Our favorite bakery for rugelach continued its tradition of tasty dough with its sufganiyot. The bright colors and decorated frosting stood out on the table, and the bakery's selection of 10 different flavors makes it a destination for those adventurous souls in search of the next horizon of sufganiyot. "It looks nice, but I really wish the chocolate-frosted [doughnut] had a filling," said one tester, adding that "the dough was delicious." The dough was in fact delicious when it was fresh off the truck, but after sitting for an hour it was harder than the other doughnuts - perhaps because they are lower in preservatives.
NIS 5. Pastry cream, vanilla crÃ¨me, caramel, chocolate crÃ¨me, chocolate frosted, strawberry, pistachio.
Rehov Agrippas 44 (Mahaneh Yehuda) and a new location at Rehov Rahel Imenu 5 in the German Colony. Tel: 052-803-7347.
5. ENGLISH CAKE
Overall rating: 5.8
Dough: 6.2; Filling: 4.9; Aesthetics: 5.6
English Cake was a disappointment for tasters, who said the sufganiyot tasted "artificial" and "not as fresh as the rest." One taster had a bite and put the doughnut down, saying "This is horrible!" Nevertheless, many judges found that the dough had a nice texture and was not too oily.
NIS 4-NIS 6. Jelly, caramel and more varieties to come at the start of Hanukka. Various locations in Jerusalem.
6. LEHEM TUSHIA
Overall rating: 5.6
Dough: 4.8; Filling: 5; Aesthetics: 5.7
The bakery on Rehov Aza had solidly average sufganiyot, though the smaller size was popular with health-conscious tasters, who agreed that most sufganiyot are too large to finish. "These sufganiyot taste the freshest," said one taster, despite the fact that the bakery received the lowest score on dough. The doughnuts are baked at a factory on Kibbutz Mishmar David and are delivered to the store up to three times per day.
NIS 5. Strawberry, butterscotch.
Rehov Aza 25. Tel: 566-4626.
Overall rating: 5.3
Dough: 6.8; Filling: 5.1; Aesthetics: 5.8
Our judges either loved or hated Duvshanit's honey-drizzled delicacies, which attract swarms of bees to the trays in the shuk. "It had all the right proportions, and it all gelled together," said one taster. These sufganiyot are good value at NIS 2.5 and are made on the premises, but they didn't dazzle the judges when compared to the city's other offerings.
NIS 2.5. Chocolate, vanilla, caramel, strawberry.
Rehov Mahaneh Yehuda 22 and Rehov Hapalmah 42. Tel: 057-937-7276.
8. UGAT CHEN
Overall rating: 5.3
Dough: 5.6; Filling: 2.6; Aesthetics: 5
This shuk staple fared poorly with our judges, especially the artificial filling, which squirted out neon pink. These sufganiyot were the cheapest as well, practically the price of supermarket doughnuts, though they are baked on the premises. When it comes to sufganiyot, quality comes with a higher price.
NIS 2. Strawberry, chocolate frosting, vanilla frosting, strawberry frosting; NIS 3 for caramel.
Rehov Mahaneh Yehuda 20. Tel: 625-4538