While latkes are a Hanukkah favorite, Montclair Chef Meny Vaknin, of MishMish Café in Montclair, says Hanukkah isn’t complete without Moroccan Donuts, also known as Sfenj, at his family’s table.
Originally from Morocco, Meny and his family celebrate Hanukkah with Sephardic traditions. Derived from the Arabic word for sponge, Sfenj have a sweet, crispy exterior and a fluffy interior. Served with powdered sugar and a drizzle of honey, they are the perfect celebratory treat to celebrate such a joyous occasion.
Moroccan Doughnuts (Sfenj’)
- 1 kg all purpose flour
- 20 g instant yeast
- 80 g sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 20 g salt
- 650 ml lukewarm water
- Powdered sugar
- Honey or maple syrup
Sfenj dough is one of the only recipes who would actually benefit from mixing by hand, slowly over some time.
Place all ingredients in a bowl, leaving the salt out.
With a wooden spoon mix the dough slowly, don’t force it, towards the middle until you’ll get a lumpy mix. Let the dough rest for 3-4 min, add the salt and then go back and mix it again until you form a smoother texture, the dough should feel very wet, similar to a focaccia.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it proof for about 25 min. At this point the dough should be 35% bigger, punch it down, fold it once into itself and let proof again for another 35 min. When the dough doubled its size, punch and fold or one last time and let it proof again.
Once the dough doubled its size for the third time it is ready to be formed.
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, heat canola oil to 350 degrees. Oil your hands slightly. Carefully scoop out tennis ball size pieces (one by one) trying not to deflate the rest of the maze, pinch a hall in the middle of the ball and fry it for about 40 seconds each side until you get a golden color. When frying, baste the raw side of the donut with oil before flipping it over.
Move into a sheet pan with paper towel.
Sprinkle with sugar and serve hot. Drizzle of honey would make it even better!