The holy, holey and unholy in the Holy City

The ‘In Jerusalem’ annual round-up finds that Kadosh’s sufganiot are heavenly and advises against saying bon appétit at Le Moulin Doré.

The verdict on Roladin sufganiyot? ‘Fluffy and favorful.’ (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The verdict on Roladin sufganiyot? ‘Fluffy and favorful.’
Last year around this time, health minister Ya’acov Litzman urged the public to stay away from sufganiot, warning that the fried doughnuts traditionally enjoyed on Hanukka were bad for our health.
Well, one year later, Litzman is out of a job and the sufganiot are still here – better than ever.
Much like the Maccabees withstood the Greeks who defiled the Holy Temple and defeated the Hellenists who wanted to assimilate, the sufgania eaters rebelled against the minister who told them what to eat.
While his official reason for leaving his post was Israel Railways employing Jews on Shabbat, it could be that Litzman could not stand to see his authority undermined by those delighting in doughnuts across the country.
Perhaps as a compromise with Litzman, or maybe to attract more health-conscious consumers, bakeries have been making their sufganiot less oily. This defies the entire reason for sufganiot, which are intended to commemorate the miracle of one cruse of oil in the Temple lasting for eight days. But they are still fried in oil, so eating the tasty treats remains a mitzva.
There is no reason to limit savoring sufganiot to the eight days of Hanukka. There are 68 days from when sufganiot first appear on bakery countertops the day after Simhat Torah in the month of Tishrei, until Hanukka ends at the beginning of the month of Tevet.
But for those who are just starting now to eat sufganiot, In Jerusalem gave the tough task of trying the treats to a talented team of reviewers with refined palates.
This year’s team featured seven children, aged one to 40.
When the team ran into former Jerusalem Post editorials editor and Start-Up Nation author Saul Singer outside Mamilla, he was told with great seriousness by the youngsters that they were busy working on an article for The Jerusalem Post.
As in past years, to facilitate a fair comparison, the only sufganiot sampled for the review were the most common varieties: strawberry jelly and dulce de leche (ribat halav). And as in the past, the reviewers resisted doughnuts with holes, which are not sufganiot.
After all, this is not a holey city, where doughnuts have holes, full of emptiness and unholy. This is a holy city with content, so we like our doughnuts full.
And in this holy city, the sufganiot found to be the best were those featured at Kadosh, a popular “boutique patisserie” and café whose name means holy and whose sufganiot are heavenly.
On Shlomzion Hamalka Street, Kadosh tends to be packed with the who’s who of the city all year long. On Hanukka, lines for sufganiot go out the door, even though at NIS 16, they are the city’s most expensive. Owner and pastry chef Itzik Kadosh stressed that his sufganiot prices have not gone up in four years and said they’re worth it.
“Sufganiot have the same ingredients and more costly dough than an eclair, which costs double,” said Kadosh, who studied at the top baking schools in Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. “Also, everything we bake is fresh; we never freeze any of our ingredients.”
Kadosh said the secret of his doughnuts tasting better – and being healthier – is an expensive special ingredient that prevents them from absorbing oil when they are fried. He said other bakeries choose not to use that ingredient, so their quality suffers, while he has decided that “oil is for frying, not eating.”
One bakery that clearly does not have access to the secret ingredient is Le Moulin Doré, a French bakery on Emek Refaim Street that was found to have the worst sufganiot among the 10 surveyed. Angel’s and Berman sufganiot that are available in supermarkets were purposely not reviewed out of respect for readers. Hanukka comes once a year, so eat only the freshest sufganiot, and choose wisely!
WITH SO many outlets offering excellent sufganiot, it is a challenge to rank them – seven of the 10 places reviewed are recommended – but by consensus of our experts, here are the official results, listed from best to worst:
Location: Shlomzion Hamalka Street, downtown Jerusalem (park at Mamilla)
Kinds: Strawberry, dulce de leche, chocolate, white chocolate, Oreo, pistachio, crème pâtissière, blackcurrant (cassis), lemon, raspberry, pineapple. Toppings include different chocolates, fondants, coconut creams, and decorations that are fruit, nuts, English toffee, and flavored marshmallows.
Prices: NIS 7 to NIS16
Review: When biting into a Kadosh sufgania, the freshness is immediately obvious. The dough has the best possible texture, the jelly is tangy and plentiful but light and not overwhelming. The dulce de leche is creamy and flavorful, and topped with a rewarding wedge of English toffee. This bakery stands out among all the others, so if your doctor or spouse let you eat only one sufgania a year, this is the place.
Location: Mea She’arim Street
Kinds: Jelly, chocolate pudding, custard with chocolate, custard with white chocolate, Bavarian cream.
Prices: NIS 6 to NIS 9
Review: This simple bakery is worth dressing up for and venturing deep into Mea She’arim. They don’t have dulce de leche because the bakery is parve, and their mehadrin hechsher limits the ingredients available to them. But they make up for it with hard work. The doughnuts here taste more like cake and are the closest Israel has to Dunkin’ Donuts, which is ironic because the Brooklyn Bakery owners have never been to the American chain.
Location: 14 grocery stores throughout the city, including Super Moshava, Super Deal
Kinds: Jelly, dulce de leche, chocolate, vanilla
Prices: Varies by the store
Review: Herby’s is a Beit El-based bakery that delivers throughout the country. Its dough is sweeter than other bakeries, its dulce de leche very rich and its jelly very plentiful.
Location: Six bakeries throughout the city plus Modi’in and Mevaseret Zion
Kinds: Three have syringes: Meringue Cheesecake, which has mango and pineapple cream with a tropical chaser; Red Kiss, which has red fruit and meringues with a raspberry chaser; and Pecanilia, which has vanilla cream, pecans and a caramel chaser. They call their other special sufganiot Green Queen, Coffee Crust, Yolo Gold, Choco Chic, and Choco Party.
Prices: NIS 5 to NIS 11
Review: The reviewers found the pastry to be “fluffy and flavorful,” including a 10-year-old who said it was the best she had tasted in her life. All the reviewers preferred this chain to all others.
Location: Rivka Street, Talpiot
Kinds: Jelly, dulce de leche, chocolate, vanilla, halva, walnuts
Prices: NIS 4 to NIS 7
Review: This bakery won first prize last year, and it has not changed at all. Their doughnuts are still clearly prepared with love and are well recommended.
Location: Eight throughout the city, plus Gush Etzion, Modi’in and Mevaseret Zion
Kinds: Jelly, dulce de leche, chocolate, Nutella, Ferrero Rocher, pistachio kadaif, Napoleon, Milky, Oreo, cheesecake, mekupelet (chocolate flake), and Ferrero Roche.
Prices: NIS 6 to NIS 9
Review: Reviewers describe these doughnuts as “doughier, flakier, and oilier,” their dulce de leche as “gooier and yummier,” and their jelly as “better tasting and less drippy.” They certainly are aesthetic and their variety impressive.
Location: Mahaneh Yehuda Market and on Rahel Imenu Street, Katamon
Kinds: Strawberry, dulce de leche, chocolate, white chocolate, halva, coffee. Toppings with chocolate and sprinkles.
Prices: Parve NIS 5, Dairy NIS 6
Review: They make a point of starting to sell sufganiot later than any other bakery, because they want their customers to savor them and not get sick of them. They are worth the wait, with delectable dulce de leche, juicy jelly and a proper pastry surrounding them. Just be careful not to confuse the dulce de leche and coffee, which look similar.
Location: King George Avenue, downtown
Kinds: Jelly, dulce de leche, chocolate, praline, sprinkles, crème brûlée, and crème pâtissière, which is a fancy vanilla.
Prices: NIS 6
Review: Too oily and chewy. Disappointing, considering their great reputation. Sufganiot clearly are not their specialty.
Location: 18 throughout the city, plus Beit Shemesh, Modi’in, and two in Ma’aleh Adumim
Kinds: Jelly, dulce de leche, chocolate with halva, chocolate with candy, click, mekupelet, cheesecake, vanilla and cherry, nougat with Ferrero Rocher, lotus, and Queen of Hearts, which has candy hearts.
Prices: NIS 4.50 for minis, to NIS 10. Sixth doughnut free.
Review: The reviewers said these doughnuts were too tough, the jelly too drippy and the dulce de leche not creamy or plentiful enough. What they liked best was the standard powdered sugar on top, which is a bad sign.
Location: Emek Refaim
Street Kinds: Strawberry, dulce de leche, crème patisserie, chocolate
Prices: NIS 5 Review: Even though it was fresh, the pastry was barely edible. The first bite was strikingly tasteless and further bites were bitter and repelling, as if the oil immersed and overtook what was supposed to be a delicacy. The dulche de leche was not sweet and the jelly had no redeeming qualities. Sacre bleu!