An old-fashioned recipe for soft, deep-fried yeast doughnuts filled with jam and topped with powdered sugar.
Anyone who celebrates Hanukkah knows that, aside from lighting a Menorah each night, the only thing there really is to do is eat doughnuts. I’m perfectly fine with that, though. These delicious traditional doughnuts are the highlight of my holiday season!
While in the past you could only find these doughnuts just before the start of the holiday, these days, bakeries start selling them a month beforehand. It’s nearly impossible to walk down the street and smell the fresh dough without buying one. Or two. Or six. Because a package of six is cheaper, so it makes more sense to buy it, right?
While old-fashioned doughnuts are filled with jam, and are still the ones most people eat during the holiday, the amount of fillings and toppings available these days is astounding. Anything from fillings made of chocolate spreads and flavored pastry creams to toppings like chocolate and caramel glazes, sprinkles, and chocolate curls is up for grabs. The options are endless, and so are the calories that go along with them (but since it’s a holiday, it doesn’t really count).
To make these jelly doughnuts, we start with a yeast dough enriched with egg and butter. If you want to use instant or rapid yeast instead of active dry yeast, you can skip sprinkling the yeast over the milk (simply mix it with the flour and sugar, then add the milk later along with the other ingredients). Mix all the ingredients together and knead until a soft, elastic dough forms. The total kneading time should take around 8-10 minutes on low or medium-low speed in a standing mixer. Then let the dough rise, shape it into balls (the recipe suggests an easy way to equally divide them), and let it rise again.
Once the doughnuts have finished rising, it’s time to fry them! The frying time for each doughnut depends on the heat; it can take anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes on each side. It’s ready when the color is golden brown.
When the doughnuts have cooled, fill them with jam and sift powdered sugar generously over the top. Doughnuts will keep for only 1 day. Don’t worry, though – they’ll be gone by then.
While these doughnuts are traditionally filled with jam, you can use any filling you like; Nutella, butterscotch, caramel, pastry cream (crème patissiere), lemon curd, and more!
- 1 tablespoon (9g) active dry yeast
- ¾ cup (180ml) whole milk, lukewarm
- 3¼ cups (450g/16 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus up to ¼ cup more as necessary
- ⅓ cup (65g/2.3 oz.) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick/56g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest, optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon brandy or rum, optional
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Jam of your choice (my favorite is strawberry), for filling
- ½ cup powdered sugar, for dusting
- Canola or vegetable oil, for frying (about 4 cups/1 liter)
- Making the dough: Sprinkle yeast over lukewarm milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until slightly foamy.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix flour and sugar. Fit mixer with dough hook and add egg, butter, zest, vanilla extract, brandy, and milk mixture to the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until a soft ball of dough starts to form, 2-3 minutes. If the dough is too sticky or soft and doesn’t come together, add more flour as necessary, one tablespoon at a time. Add in salt. Keep mixing until dough is soft and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 8 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- When the dough has risen to twice its original size, gently punch it to remove air. Afterward, divide it into 24 pieces (or as many pieces as you like, depending on your preferred size). The best way to do this is to divide the dough into two halves, shape each half into a log, and cut each log into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest to rise for about 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Frying: In a large, deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 in./5 cm of oil until a thermometer inserted into the oil reaches 300F/150C. If you don’t have a thermometer to test, insert a wooden spoon into the oil; it’s ready for frying when bubbles appear around the stick. If it bubbles vigorously, it’s too hot. Carefully add doughnuts, a few at a time, depending on how large the saucepan is. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain doughnuts and move to paper towel-lined plate.
- Filling with jam: Once doughnuts have cooled, place jam in a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round tip opening. Press tip halfway into doughnuts and squeeze until jam begins to dollop out. Top doughnuts with powdered sugar.
- Doughnuts are best the same day they are made.