A world of doughnuts

Enjoyed around the globe, fried dough is a universal delight

Israeli sufgania with guava jam (photo credit: BOAZ LAVI)
Israeli sufgania with guava jam
(photo credit: BOAZ LAVI)
This year, instead of reviewing what is on offer in the bakeries around the country, we decided to try a few of the different fried dough delights eaten around the globe.
We asked Kobi Nachmani, the talented pastry chef of Tel Aviv’s David & Joseph Downtown, to give us his take on some of the traditional doughnuts from various countries.
Starting at home, tradition calls for the sufgania (the term comes from the Hebrew word “sponge”) to be filled with simple red jelly, but judging from what is on sale these are not as common these days. Creative fillings such as halva, pistachio, and champagne creams are everywhere, and the variations are endless. Nachmani offers them with a homemade guava jam filling.
Rough-hewn, ring-shaped sfenj, Arabic for “sponge,” are a sweet street food eaten throughout North Africa. Common in many Israeli homes, they are dipped in classic sugar syrup.
In Spain, churros are usually dunked in a cup of hot chocolate. Nachmani chooses to dip them in tasty homemade toffee sauce.
Chinese jin deui are nutty fried orbs made from rice flour and crusted with sesame seeds and filled with a sweet bean or lotus seed paste center, which are often eaten as dim sum. We offer a recipe with a date and almond filling and mint tea sauce. If you want to cut down on calories, boil them.
Custard can be piped into the Tuscan bomboloni, which are raised round dough - nuts that come in all kinds of flavors, such as coffee-vanilla pudding cream.
And, of course, no doughnut story will be complete without the classic all-American ring-shaped doughnut, with or without the chocolate glazing. Nachmani adds crushed sweet peanuts to the chocolate for what he feels is a real American taste.
✔ 1 kg. flour
✔ 1 cup sugar
✔ 1 cup milk (or water)
✔ 80 gr. fresh yeast
✔ 5 eggs
✔ 2 egg yolks
✔ 100 gr. butter (or margarine), cubed
✔ 1 tsp. salt
✔ 1 tsp. brandy or rum
✔ Oil for deep frying For the jam
✔ 4 guavas
✔ ½ cup sugar
✔ ½ cup water
✔ 4 Tbsp. honey
✔ ½ tsp. vanilla extract
In a mixer bowl with a kneading arm, place the flour, milk, yeast and sugar. Knead on slow speed for 4 minutes. Add eggs and brandy and knead 4 more minutes. Add butter and salt and continue kneading until dough is smooth. Transfer dough to a large lightly greased bowl, dust with flour and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise for 1 to 1½ hours until double in volume.
Remove plastic, pound the dough to get the air out, cover with the plastic and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide into 26 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 6-cm. ball.
Place the balls 5 cm. apart on a lightly greased baking sheet or tray. Brush them with a little oil or cover to avoid drying. Let rise until double in size (1 to 1½ hours or more, depending on the room temperature).
When ready to fry, heat oil in a deep fryer.
When hot, lower the heat to medium. Carefully pick up the doughnuts and gently slide into the hot oil. Place the puffed side down first. There should be gentle bubbling in the oil around the doughnut. If the bubbling is too strong, lower the heat; otherwise, the surface of the doughnut will burn before the inside is done.
When golden (after about 2 minutes), turn to the other side and fry for 2 more minutes.
Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels.
If you are not sure about the heat, check the first doughnut before continuing, and adjust the heat.
To prepare jam: Slice the guavas and cook with the sugar, vanilla and water until soft.
Mash with a hand-held blender and add honey. Continue to cook over low heat until jam reaches a nice consistency. Remember that it will become thicker when cooled.
Fill the prepared sufganiot with the cooled jam using a pastry bag or a syringe.
Makes 20 to 25 Sfenj (or sfinge) are Moroccan fritters served for the holiday.
✔ 25 gr. dry yeast
✔ ½ cup sugar
✔ 800 ml. lukewarm water
✔ 1 kg. flour
✔ ½ tsp. salt
✔ Oil for deep frying For the syrup
✔ 1 cup water
✔ 1½ cups sugar
✔ Zest of 1 orange In a very large bowl, mix together yeast and flour. Add sugar and salt and mix. Start adding the water – first ½ cup – and mix with your hands. Spread your fingers and mix while lifting the dough from the bottom of the bowl. Gradually add water (all of it) and knead for 1 more minute (not more!).
The dough will be runny, and that’s fine.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size. Knead to let air out and let rise again, covered.
When the dough is double in size, heat oil in a frying pan.
Grease your hands and pinch a small amount of dough with one hand (about the size of a mandarin); using two fingers of the other hand, snap off the dough. With your finger, make a hole in the small dough ball and pull the sides to shape it like a bagel.
Place the dough ring in the boiling oil.
Quickly continue adding more dough rings into the hot oil, greasing your palms from time to time.
Fry the sfenj about 2 minutes on each side until golden. Transfer from the oil onto paper towels and dip in the syrup while still hot.
To make the syrup: On medium heat, cook the water with ½ cup sugar. When the sugar is dissolved, add the orange zest and cook until the syrup thickens.
Makes 30 These delicious elongated pastries are made from choux pastry and are fried like doughnuts, then dipped in sugar or sweet sauces.
✔ 100 gr. butter
✔ 1 cup water
✔ 2 cups flour
✔ ½ tsp. salt
✔ 2 eggs
✔ Oil for deep frying
✔ Powdered sugar For the toffee sauce
✔ 1 cup sugar
✔ 1 cup cream
✔ Pinch salt Place butter and 1 cup of water in a pot, and heat over medium heat. Mix until all the butter melts (about 5 minutes). When butter is melted, turn off the heat and quickly add 2 cups of flour and ½ tsp. salt.
Mix well with a wooden spoon until dough separates from the sides of the pot.
Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool for 15 minutes. Add 1 egg and mix well. Add the second egg and mix again.
Line a tray with baking paper. Using a pastry bag with a zigzag tip, create 5-cm.
elongated pastries. If you don’t have a pastry bag, roll thin cylinders by hand.
Heat oil in a deep fryer. When oil is hot, drop the churros in. After about 3 minutes, the churros begin to float to the top and become golden. Remove from heat using a slotted spoon. Place on paper towels. When the churros are slightly cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
To make the toffee sauce: Heat a deep skil - let and gradually add the sugar, shaking the skillet and adding sugar until all of it is dissolved. Meanwhile, in another pot, bring cream almost to a boil. Very carefully add the hot cream to the caramelized sugar and stir well. Add a pinch of salt, stir and continue cooking until the sauce is smooth.
Let cool and serve.
Makes 8
✔ 100 gr. rice flour
✔ 80 ml. water
✔ Sesame for topping
✔ 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
✔ 120 gr. date paste
✔ 2 Tbsp. almond paste For the green mint sauce
✔ 1 cup boiling water
✔ 1 bunch mint
✔ ¼ cup sugar Mix flour and water until dough is smooth. Add oil and mix. Divide into 8 equal pieces.
Divide the date paste into 8 equal parts.
Flatten each dough piece in your palm.
Place a piece of the date paste in the middle and close the dough over it. Close and pinch the dough and roll into a ball.
Place sesame in a deep dish. Roll the balls in the sesame, pushing until the balls are covered in seeds.
There are three methods for cooking these: frying, baking or boiling.
To f r y: Heat oil in a deep fryer, drop the balls into the oil and cook until golden.
Transfer to paper towel. Serve with the sauce.
To b a ke : Heat oven to 150°, roll the dough - nuts in the sesame and bake on a lined bak - ing sheet for 10 minutes.
To b o il : Do not cover with sesame seeds before cooking. Boil water in a deep pot.
Drop the balls into the boiling water and cook until the balls float, about 2 minutes. Place the sesame in a deep dish. With a slot- ted spoon, transfer the doughnuts from the boiling water into the sesame.
To prepare the sauce: Cook mint and sugar in water for 20 minutes. Remove the mint and continue cooking for 10 more minutes until reduced.
Makes 40
✔ 1 kg. flour
✔ 50 gr. fresh yeast, dissolved in some warm milk
✔ 150 gr. sugar
✔ ½ tsp. salt
✔ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
✔ 100 gr. butter, soft
✔ 5 egg yolks
✔ Zest of ½ lemon
✔ 2 liters oil for frying For the filling
✔ 2 cartons cream
✔ 60 gr. vanilla instant pudding mix
✔ 3 Tbsp. sugar
✔ 2 Tbsp. instant coffee Place flour, sugar and salt in a mixer bowl and mix. Add the butter while the mixer is operating. Keep mixer on and drop egg yolks into the batter one at a time. Add the dissolved yeast, vanilla and lemon zest.
Continue kneading and gradually add water (about 1 cup) until a soft dough is formed. The total kneading time should be about 20 minutes.
Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough until about 1 cm.
thick. Using a 6-cm. glass or cutter, cut rounds. Knead the dough leftovers together, roll out again and cut more doughnuts until all the dough is finished. Place the discs on a lightly floured tray, gently brush with oil , cover and let rise for 1 hour or until they are double in height.
Heat about 2 liters of oil in a deep pot.
When oil begins to smoke, use a spatula to transfer the doughnuts into the oil, top side down (the oily side should go into the oil first). Fry until golden, then turn and fry the other side.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a tray lined with paper towels.
To prepare filling: In a mixer bowl, place all the ingredients and whip until hard.
Cut the doughnuts in half and fill gener- ously using a pastry bag or a spoon. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Makes 20
✔ 60 gr. fresh yeast
✔ ½ cup lukewarm water
✔ 1½ cups milk, boiled and cooled
✔ ½ cup sugar
✔ 2 eggs
✔ 1 tsp. salt
✔ ⅓ cup canola oil
✔ 5 cups flour
✔ 1 liter oil for frying
✔ 2 bitter chocolate bars
✔ 100 gr. caramelized peanuts, crushed holiday in In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water and transfer to the mixer bowl, with the kneading arm. Add milk, sugar and eggs and knead for 30 seconds on low speed. Raise speed to medium and add salt and oil. Knead 2 more minutes.
Gradually add 2 cups of flour while knead- ing. Turn off the mixer and add the rest of the flour, mixing by hand until the dough is smooth. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise about 1 hour.
Turn the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll out using a rolling pin until dough is about 1½ cm. thick.
Using a 4-cm. cup or cookie cutter, cut out discs. Cut a hole in each disc using a small cutter. Cover doughnuts and let rise 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a deep fryer. Fry the dough- nuts on each side until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and let cool.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and dip one side of each doughnut. Arrange on a tray and sprinkle with the crushed peanuts.
Recipes and photos courtesy of David & Joseph Downtown, 21 Montefiore Street, Tel Aviv. Telephone: (03) 604-0036