Every year between the end of November and the end of December, Jewish people around the world celebrate Chanukah, the Festival of Lights to commemorate that took place more than 2000 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now Israel. This year the beginning of the eight day festival starts at sundown on December 11.
The Syrian king, Antiochus ordered the Jewish people to reject their religion and worship the Greek gods. One who refused was Judah Maccabee. Judah and his four brothers formed an army and after three years of fighting, the Maccabees drove the Syrians out of Israel and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabees wanted to clean the building to remove the Greek statues. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the job was finished and the temple was rededicated.
When they finished cleaning the temple, they wanted to light the eternal light, but there was only a tiny jug of oil enough for one day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days. Jews celebrate Chanukah to mark the victory over the Syrians and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. The Festival of the Lights, Chanukah, lasts for eight days to commemorate the miracle of the oil.
Chanukah has many fun traditions and recipes. Jewish children often play the Dreidel game for gold foil wrapped pieces of chocolate called gelt. Last year, I gave you the recipe for Latkes. This year artery clogging comes in the form of Sufganiyot (jam filled doughnuts)
1 scant tablespoon (1 package) dry yeast4 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm milk or warm water*
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter or pareve margarine, softened*
Apricot or strawberry preserves
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
*Use butter and milk if serving at a milk meal, and water and pareve margarine for a meat meal
Mix together the yeast, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the milk. Let sit to make sure it bubbles.
Sift the flour and mix it with the remaining sugar, salt, cinnamon, egg yolks, and the yeast mixture.
Knead the dough until it forms a ball. Add the butter or margarine. Knead some more, until the butter is well absorbed. Cover with a towel and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch.
Cut out the dough into 24 rounds with a juice glass, or any object about 2 inches in diameter. Take 1/2 teaspoon of preserves and place in center of 12 rounds. Top with the other 12. Press down at edges, sealing with egg whites. Crimping with the thumb and second finger is best. Let rise for about 30 minutes.
Heat 2 inches of oil to about 375°. Drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, about 5 at a time. Turn to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Roll the doughnuts in sugar.