Chanukah is filled with nostalgia, memories of years past, childhood, and of our ancestors. Each house has its own customs and traditions which bring the Mitzvot closer to the heart.
Borrowing from both Sephardic and Ashkenazic traditions we opt to have latkes and doughnuts for our Chanukah treat, it’s like having dinner and dessert. A “healthy” meal of fried comfort foods; one week only! I think my kids look forward to this week all year. I try to get everything ready so we can eat while sitting snuggly in the afterglow of the blessings. Each year I ask myself whether to make doughnuts using yeast or a quick raised cake doughnut (one using baking powder or baking soda).
I tend to lean towards an old fashioned yeasty doughnut lofty in stature, with cavernous interior that begs to be filled with creams and jellies. The rising time is always daunting. Will it be ready in time, will the middle be light as a feather or a gooey mess. Yeast is an organic leaven which works slowly and is somewhat unpredictable but can yield a brilliant product with a full flavor. Then there is the cake doughnut, springy and graceful with a solid crumb using baking powder and baking soda which are chemical leaven. These are more dependable but can sometimes leave the taste buds flat and searching for more.
My practical side starts with the “quick” cake doughnut, adding nuts and fruit and other accoutrements to infuse the perfect flavor. Then dropping sticky dough into the hot oil and watching the crust turn golden brown I can’t help but think that the time I took embellishing my recipe could be equal to the time spent on a simple yeast doughnut with one rise. I end up making a big batch of yeast dough and keeping it in the refrigerator for the whole week, pulling out bits of dough to plop into the oil each night.
It’s just a matter of personal taste; my husband prefers the cake doughnut and the kids are ecstatic to be eating any doughnuts. Peering out of frosted windows I admire the soft glow of the Chanukah lights flickering and dancing. I cherish these moments of togetherness. I know that whatever I decide to provide as the perfect Chanukah treat, in years to come it is the laughter that will persist, a reminiscent smell, and the recall of the sweetness of the night.
Enjoy my recipe forPistachio Apple Cake Doughnuts with a Cherry Jus.