What's in a Jelly Doughnut (besides jelly)?
Our pre-Hannuka program explored the language and cuisine of a quintessential Hanukka sweet — pontshkes! Beyond its emergence as a Yiddishized Polish pączek, the Eastern European fried and filled pastry has become an international favorite, transforming into everybody’s favorite holiday doughnut. Known as sufganiyot in Israeli Hebrew and ponchiki in Russian (and numerous variants in other Slavic languages), this sweet treat fused with Sephardic and Mizrahi traditions to become a Hanukka staple first in Israel, then the United States, and beyond.
After a conversation on the history of Hanukka culinary staples, top pastry chef Roxana Jullapat — master baker/owner of LA’s beloved bakery/cafe Friends & Family — shared treasured techniques with us for proofing and producing the perfect pączek in time for Hanukka. Special guests included author Moriel Rothman-Zecher (of the award-winning novel Sadness Is a White Bird), and acclaimed violinist Zoe Aqua (of the band Tsibele) who shared original poetry and music.
Watch the entire event below and feel free to try Roxana’s recipe at the bottom of the page.
We invite you to post photos on Yiddishkayt’s Facebook page from the event and to share your own culinary adventures with this now quintessential Hanukka dessert. Enjoy!
Roxana Jullapat’s Hanukka Jelly Doughnuts
Makes 12 donuts (a few more if you re-roll the scraps)
For the dough:
- 7 grams instant yeast
- ½ cup buttermilk, lukewarm
- 400 grams all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting work surface)
- 100 grams Sonora wheat flour
- 85 grams granulated sugar
- 4 grams kosher salt
- 85 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 170 grams sour cream
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Oil for frying
For Filling and Topping:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- cup jam, preferably homemade
- Confectioners’ sugar
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm buttermilk. Stir and set aside to activate for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, put the remaining ingredients along with the yeast mixture. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and combine on very low speed for 1 minute. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly coated with non-stick spray — bowl should be large enough to let the dough double in size. Cover the bowl loosely with a plastic bag or plastic film and let rest for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume.
While the dough is rising, combine sugar and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl and set aside. Then fit a pastry bag with a plain decorative tip and fill with the jam.
When the dough is ready, turn it onto a floured surface, and roll it down with a rolling pin until it’s ½ to ¾ inch thick. Cut out 12 rounds with a 3½–inch round cookie or biscuit cutter. Line a cookie sheet with a linen napkin and dust it generously with flour. Place the donuts on the prepared cookie sheet. Let them rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a large heavy-bottomed pot with frying oil (such as canola, sunflower or peanut) about 3 inches deep, and heat it over medium heat until the oil reaches 365ºF on a deep fry thermometer. Alternatively, preheat a countertop deep fryer to 365ºF. Working in batches, carefully drop the donuts one by one into the hot oil. Fry until the donuts are golden brown, then flip them over and fry the other side — this should take about 4 minutes total.
Test for doneness and gauge if the donuts need more or less frying time, pick out a sacrificial donut and cutting it right in the middle to see if it’s cooked through. As the donuts are done, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Continue the process until all the donuts are fried. Let them sit until they’re cool enough to handle.
While the donuts are warmish, gently toss them in the prepared cinnamon sugar. Then, use a paring knife to cut an incision three quarters of the way into the donut. Gently move it from side to side to create a nice-size cavity for the jam. Insert the tip into the donut and fill it until it feels heavy. Repeat with the rest of the donuts. Finish with a generous dusting of confectioners sugar.