Enjoy this timeless vegan sufganiyot recipe, a classic Hanukkah treat that's perfect for savoring year-round! Pair it with a refreshing glass of plant-based milk and enjoy this fried dough bliss!
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One of the greatest pleasures of life is getting to eat dessert. Whether you’re celebrating a vegan Hanukkah, another special occasion, or you just need to get your sweet tooth fix, these pillowy vegan sufganiyot truly make the world go round. What are sufganiyot, you ask? A classic Jewish dessert recipe—a jelly-filled donut eaten in Israel and around the world during the festival of Hanukkah.
This recipe comes from Kirsten Kaminsky’s book The Traveling Vegan Cookbook. In this book, Kirsten takes us through the streets of Greece, Japan, Israel, and more with exquisite plant-based recipes for international classics such as sabich, lentil moussaka, and more.
Ready to dive right into vegan jelly donut joy? Let’s go!
Sufganiyot is commonly consumed during Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights that commemorates the resistance of the Jews against the Maccabees and the supposed miracle of a small jar of oil lasting for eight days. During this holiday, Jews observe the custom of eating fried foods for each night of Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle associated with temple oil lasting for eight nights. The recipe for sufganiyot originated in Europe in the 1500s and became popular among Polish Jews who made a tradition of serving them on Hanukkah.
Traditionally, sufganiyot is filled with either jam or custard and then topped with powdered sugar and was originally made from two circles of dough surrounding a filling, stuck together and fried in one piece. The easier and more common technique used today is to deep-fry whole balls of dough, then injecting the filling with a baker’s syringe. This recipe for vegan sufganiyot uses this latter method since it’s easier but you’re more than welcome to try the more traditional way to see how it turns out!
And if you’re wondering how the name sufganiyot came about, it is derived from the Hebrew word sufganiyah, which is based on the Talmudic words sofgan and sfogga, which refer to a “spongy dough”. But don’t worry, there won’t be a spelling test here!
So you’ve got your sweet vegan sufganiyot and you’re ready to enjoy your treat. But wait! What could possibly make your donut time even more special? Well, my friend, we have just a few suggestions for taking your sufganiyot to a whole ‘nother level:
Raise a Glass of Vegan Milk – A cold glass of milk is absolutely the way to go when enjoying your sufganiyot. If you’re feeling the urge to make your own, try our recipe for homemade almond milk. If store-bought is more your thing, check out this vegan milk guide.
We All Scream for Ice Cream – Maybe ice cream is more your thing—a bowl full of creamy, cool vegan goodness to go with your sufganiyot. May we suggest this Vegan Rocky Road Ice Cream? Maybe you’re more of a strawberry ice cream person? Or, perhaps, you just want a simple nice cream.
If you don’t want to hassle with dough making and deep frying, not to worry. We have an extremely simple baked vegan chocolate donut recipe that you can whip up with very little effort. These would make a great alternative to sufganiyot as an easy vegan Hanukkah dessert recipe.
More Jewish Vegan Dishes to Try
Oil-heavy foods are a signature of the Festival of Lights to commemorate the long-lasting oil that the holiday derives its traditions from. Along with sufganiyot, latkes, noodle kugel, and other fried treats are enjoyed in celebration of Hanukkah.
To make the donuts, in a small bowl combine the yeast, soy milk, ¼ cup (60 ml) of lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon (15 g) of sugar and let stand until it’s foamy, about 10 minutes. Lightly grease a medium bowl with a little vegan butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and remaining 2 tablespoons (30 g) of sugar. Add the yeast mixture, applesauce and butter and beat until the dough is soft but not sticky, 3 to 5 minutes. On a floured surface, knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Place the dough in the greased bowl. Cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 1½ to 2 hours, until it’s doubled in size.
Lightly flour a baking sheet. Punch down the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few times, then use a rolling pin to roll it out to ⅓-inch (8 mm) thick. Use a 2½-3 inch (6-7.62 cm) cookie cutter or a glass to cut out rounds and transfer them to the floured baking sheet. Re-roll any remaining dough and repeat until it’s all cut. Cover the baking sheet with a towel and let the rounds rise for 30 minutes.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, use a thermometer to make sure the oil measures 375°F (190°C). Spread out some paper towels on a wire rack. Working with two at a time, add the donuts to the hot oil. Fry for 45 to 50 seconds on each side, then remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining donuts. Let them cool down on the rack.
When the donuts are cool, spoon the jam into a pastry bag fitted with the star nozzle tip. Pierce a hole in the side of each donut with the tip. Squeeze the jam inside to fill it. Sprinkle the powdered sugar on top.
If you don’t have applesauce on hand, the sufganiyot will still come out fine.
Depending on the size of the pot you’re using for frying, you may need more or less oil for frying.
If you find yourself wanting some more filling in your donuts, you may want to use closer to ⅓ a cup.
Kirsten Kaminsky is author of The Traveling Vegan Cookbook and the creator of The Tasty K, a vegan lifestyle blog that’s centered on Kirsten’s experiences as a world traveler. You’ll find vegan travel guides and a delicious array of recipes on her vegan blog.
This vegan sufganiyot recipe was reprinted with permission from The Traveling Vegan Cookbook by Kirsten Kaminski, Page Street Publishing, Co. 2021. Photo credit: Kirsten Kaminski. Happy Hanukkah!
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