Word of Mouth: How do you fill?

It is undeniable that those living in the Diaspora have put their own unique culinary spin on their donut fillings.

November 30, 2010 17:17
2 minute read.
Word of Mouth: How do you fill?

sufganiyot 298.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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This week, the bakeries of Israel are filled with the tempting aroma of balls of dough, fried in hot oil and oozing with sweet red jelly. There are many stories related to the origins of sufganiyot but generally it is believed that the tradition came to Israel via European Jewish immigrants who had grown up eating jelly donuts in their various countries of origin.

These days Israel is made up of people who have come from all over the world so it is only natural that just as the immigrants before them, they should bring their own culinary traditions and that as a consequence, Israeli culinary culture is constantly expanding its horizons. Perhaps this is one reason why the traditional red jelly filling for sufganiyot is facing increasing competition from other more unusual fillings, many of which have roots in other parts of the world.

My friend Hanoch immigrated to Israel from Uruguay. This may explain why one of his favorite sufganiyot fillings is dulce de leche, a popular South American sweet made from caramelized sweetened milk. His wife Janet, on the other hand, grew up in the United States and plans to make sufganiyot with lemon curd this year, thus combining an American favorite (lemon meringue pie!) with a Jewish holiday tradition.

Of course not all sufganiyot fillings are rooted in culinary cultural backgrounds. In recent years specialty bakeries throughout Israel have taken creativity to the max with inventive sufganiyot fillings such as vodka melon, pistachio, halva cream, caramel and cappuchino. 

Nevertheless, it is undeniable that those living in the Diaspora have put their own unique culinary spin on their sufganiyot fillings. One food blogger from Louisiana fills his with nutella while another in Texas filled hers with ketchup!

While I’m a fan of challenging the palate with unusual flavor combinations, I think I’ll skip the ketchup this year and go for Janet Stein’s lemon curd sufganiyot. See her recipe below and for the lemon curd, try out this delicious recipe from celebrated Parisian food blogger David Lebovitz.


1 1/2 ounces fresh compressed yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
4 cups flour, sifted
2 tbs cognac
4 tbs vegetable oil
5 tbs sugar
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 egg yolks
oil, for frying
1/2 cup lemon curd
powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and 1 tsp of sugar. Set aside for about 5-7 minutes.

Sift flour into bowl. Add remaining water, cognac, oil, sugar, lemon rind, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Mix at low speed for two minutes, then at medium speed for 5-7 minutes. Cover the bowl with a dishcloth and put in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until double in bulk. Punch down.

Divide the dough into 3 parts. Roll each into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch circles. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Drop gently into 2 or 3 inches of hot oil. Fry for 3 minutes until golden brown, turning once. Remove and drain on paper towels. When cool fill with 1 tsp of lemon curd and sprinkle with powdered sugar or roll in granulated sugar.

Yields 24 donuts.

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