Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Celebration of Oil - aka - Hanukkah [Part 2]

Ok, so it is that time of year when we get a week of celebrating hanukkah, the festival of lights, and oil. Originally this was a festival of lights made of oil, now, it is a festival of candle light and a plethorah of foods cooked in oil. For eastern European Jewish people this means latkes, for Israeli's this means Soofganiot (jelly doughnuts), for some American Jews it means homemade eggrolls, or falafel, and later this week, for this Jewish girl married to an American born Ifa Priest (traditional Yoruba/Nigerian religion), it means Akara (blackeyed pea fritters).

But, to start this week of festivities, as you might have gleaned from the abundance of photos above, I made jelly doughnuts. This was a spur of the moment decision while I was making challah dough on Friday afternoon, I decided to pull out a doughnut dough recipe to see if I might alter my challah dough and save a bit for making a treat for Saturday morning's breakfast. The doughnut recipe had buttermilk, powdered milk, a tablespoon of nutmeg and 15 eggs. It involved making a sponge and then beating in the butter and eggs...well, it was just a bit too complicated for me when i still had a pile of pillows to finish sewing for all of the family gifts for the next day. So, I just made my basic challah dough, took half of it out to make a loaf of bread and then added 1/4 cup of cream, 2 tablespoons of softened butter and a bunch of fresh ground nutmeg to the other half of the dough. This made a softer, richer dough which I hoped would mimic the doughnut recipe. I put this dough in the fridge to hold until Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning when the dough came to room temperature, I rolled out 2 rectangles 1/4inch thick. On one I marked circles gently with the back side of a large circle cutter. Then I brushed the circles with beaten egg, and topped each with a spoonful of good jam, (I used some homemade peach jam from the end of summer, but any good jam will do). I covered this dough and jam with the second rectangle of dough. With the dull side of a smaller circle cutter I gently pressed down around the jam to seal the two sheets of dough together. You can also press gently with your fingers to seal the dough. Then, I used the larger cutter to cut out the doughnuts. I placed them on a very well floured baking sheet and let them rest and proof for about 20 minutes or until soft and starting to puff. (I had to put my pans on a radiator since my house is cold). You can re-roll the scraps and make doughnut rings and holes as well.

To fry doughnuts heat vegetable, safflower or canola oil (preferably a brand of non genetically modified oil) to around 350 degrees. Gently drop doughnuts into oil and cook till golden brown, flipping over when one side is cooked. Drain on a rack if you have one.
When cool, toss doughnuts in sugar. You can add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom to the sugar if you like.

Basic Challah dough and modification for Doughnuts
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup sugar, honey or agave
1/2 cup oil
1 tablespoon salt
5-6 cups flour (or more) - about 1/3 of this is whole wheat or whole spelt

additions for doughnut dough:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter softened
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

Another idea:
With a few leftover scraps of dough, we made some mock brioche filled with almond paste that were baked in the oven.

1 comment:

  1. Such a great idea to modify your challah dough to make doughnuts! Thanks for the instructions on making jelly doughnuts...I want to give it a try soon!