Fried dough, a Chanukah delight

Pumpkin doughnuts are a way to merge the two holidays gastronomically. Photo by Michael Kress
Pumpkin doughnuts are a way to merge the two holidays gastronomically.
Photo by Michael Kress

It’s hard to imagine Chanukah without doughnuts of some kind, from fresh, jelly-filled sufganiyot dusted with sugar to the seemingly infinite variety of other doughnut delights. Even people who abstain all year will often succumb to a taste — or more — all for the sake of celebrating the holiday appropriately, of course.

For Sephardim, bimuelos have been popular for centuries. Similar to Mexican sopapillas, these crispy puffs of dough are smaller but they also receive a dressing of warm honey to complete the crunchy sweet goodness.

1 1/3 cup warm water
2 packages dry yeast
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups + 3 tablespoons flour
Cinnamon to sprinkle
High-heat vegetable oil for frying, such as peanut
1 24-ounce jar honey
¼ cup water

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water. Once it becomes bubbly, add beaten egg, salt and oil to mixture. Put the flour in large bowl. Add the liquid mixture all at once and stir, adding remaining water gradually. Allow the mixture to rise at least 1 hour.
Combine honey and water for syrup in a saucepan and bring to boil. Keep warm on a low heat until using.

Heat oil to 375 degrees. Dip a tablespoon in oil to keep the dough from sticking. Drop dough from the oiled tablespoon into the hot oil. Bimuelos puff up and should be turned over until they are evenly golden brown. Drain on crumpled-up paper toweling. Before serving, dip in warm syrup and sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Best served immediately after frying while still warm, but the bimuelos may be fried ahead and dipped in the hot syrup before serving.

Yield: about 45 bimuelos

Pumpkin Doughnuts
Paula Shoyer

Two of my favorite food holidays have collided this year, and I want to make sure each gets enough attention. When I developed the pumpkin doughnuts recipe two years ago, along with apple latkes for Holiday Kosher Baker, I had not even looked at the calendar for 2013. The convergence provides so many interesting food mashups, but the guiding principle should always be taste over kitsch.

Plan a meal that has your favorite Thanksgiving recipes, add some Chanukah latkes to it and then add up to three recipes that merge the two. That way no one forgets each unique holiday. Pumpkin puree and classic pumpkin pie spices give these doughnuts a soft, comforting texture and taste. Reprinted with permission from Holiday Kosher Baker © 2013 by Paula Shoyer, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Michael Bennett Kress

¼ ounce (1 envelope, 7g) dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
⅓ cup soy milk
2 tablespoons margarine, at room temperature for at least 15 minutes
1 large egg
½ cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3–3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
Canola oil for frying
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Place the yeast, warm water, and one teaspoon of sugar in a large bowl and stir. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, or until thick. Add the remaining sugar, brown sugar, soy milk, margarine, egg, pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and 2 cups of the flour to the bowl and mix on low speed with either a dough hook in a stand mixer or a wooden spoon. Add another cup of flour and mix well. Add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, and mix it in until the dough becomes smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl each time before adding more flour.

Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and let it rise for one hour in a warm place. I use a warming drawer on a low setting, or you can turn your oven on to its lowest setting, wait until it reaches that temperature, place the bowl in the oven and then turn off the oven. Punch down the dough by folding it over a few times and reshaping it into a ball. Then re-cover the dough and let it rise for 10 minutes.

Dust a cookie sheet with some flour. Sprinkle some flour on your counter or on a piece of parchment paper and roll the dough out until it’s about ½ inch thick. Use a 2½-inch round cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut out circles and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. Reroll any scraps. Cover the doughnuts with the towel. Place the cookie sheet back in the oven (warm but turned off) or warming drawer. Let the doughnuts rise for 45 minutes.

Heat 1½ inches of oil in a medium saucepan for a few minutes and use a candy thermometer to see when the temperature stays between 365 degrees and 375 degrees; adjust the flame so the oil stays in that temperature range. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on top of it and set it near your stove top. Gently slide no more than four doughnuts, top side down, into the oil and fry for 1½ minutes. Turn the doughnuts over and cook another 1½ minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, letting excess oil drip off, and place on a wire rack to cool. Repeat for the remaining doughnuts. Dust with the confectioners’ sugar and serve. Store covered at room temperature for up to one day and reheat to serve.

Yield: 15 doughnuts

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