Fried doughnuts or fritters are common at Hanukkah in almost all Jewish communities. In fact, you can probably determine the geographic origin of many Jewish families simply by finding out what they call these treats. Israelis and Ashkenazim call them sufganyiot and typically they are filled with jelly. Others are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar or tossed in a sweet honey or citrus syrup. The European Sephardim call them bimuelos, in Egypt they are zalabia, Persians refer to them as zengoula, and my personal favorite are the Greek loukoumades, or as Greek Jews call them zvingous. I first encountered loukoumades at the fabulous Oakland Greek Festival, which is held every year in May. At this festival you can determine the best treats by the length of the line for it and in the case of the beer, gyros and loukoumades, the wait is totally worth it. (As an aside, we Jews could really take a cue from the Greeks on how to put on a super-fun ethnic festival, ours tend to lack beer, have a poor selection of food and are overwhelmed with organizational politics) So for this year’s Hanukkah I decided I would make my own loukoumades instead of having to wait all the way until May to get my next fix.
Given the amount of holiday eating I am encountering I decided to make half a batch but the full recipe is here:
Loukoumades (sufganiyot with honey syrup)
- 2 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- about 2 1/2 C warm water
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1/2 C honey
- 3/4 C sugar
- 1 3/4 C water
- Juice of half a lemon
- Activate the yeast with the sugar in the warm water
- Mix flour and salt in a large bowl and combine with the yeast mixture. Let mix for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
- Mix the dough again and let rise another 30 min- 1 hr.
- During the 2nd rise make the syrup by combining honey, sugar, lemon juice and water in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes then allow to cool on the stove.
- Bring your oil to high heat (about 350°F) in a large pot or dutch oven. Oil should be at least 2 inches deep.
- Pinch of small pieces of dough (about a teaspoon) and drop in oil to fry until golden brown and drain on a paper towel. (note the dough is pretty stick and messy so have some paper towels handy to wipe off your fingers)
- Serve warm, covered in syrup and dusted with powdered sugar.