Homemade sufganiyot recipes to brighten Chanukah celebrations

Chanukah has always been a joyful holiday for children and adults.

A good story about a victory and a miracle, great food like doughnuts and latkes, but more than anything, the chanukiyah — the menorah — whose light gives the holiday an atmosphere of magic and mystery.

I’ve been living in Jerusalem all my life. The most fascinating tour of the city is a chanukiyah tour in the ultra-Orthodox religious neighborhoods. Here, the chanukiyah is placed outside, to the left of the entry door, in a glass case that protects its candles from wind and rain. On the right of the entry to the home is the mezuzah, so upon entering a home at Chanukah, which this year begins the night of Dec. 16, we are surrounded by commandments.  

Traditionally among observant Jews, each family member lights his own chanukiyah. Walking through narrow Jerusalem alleys, we enjoy the lights of thousands of Chanukah candles. The sight fills the heart with a sense of magic and brightens the soul.

The chanukiyah is there to advertise the miracle that took place more than 2,000 years ago when Judah Maccabee and his people found a small pot of oil that was supposed to light the menorah for one day but miraculously kept it lit for eight days.

That’s why the holiday period is eight days. It’s also why the shape of the menorah changed from holding seven to eight candles (or oil lights), plus an extra candle, the shamash, which is used to light the rest of the candles.

The mitzvah of Chanukah is to advertise this miracle, and if we want to advertise it, we need people to see it. We place the chanukiyah in a place so people on the street can see it (the best time is from sunset until there are no more people on the street). Traditionally, we light the chanukiyah with olive oil, as in the Temple, but any other form of light will work.  

Winter holidays are holidays of light and fire. Many years ago, there was no electricity, and candles were expensive. Darkness makes us afraid and depressed, and the lighting of the chanukiyah helps to lighten the atmosphere. The family comes together to light the candles, sing songs and make blessings, and this atmosphere fills the heart and home with joy.

Because the whole story is about oil, it makes sense that traditional Chanukah food is connected to oil.  

North African Jews eat sfenj, a type of fluffy doughnut that is usually served with honey or a date syrup. Europeans eat sufganiyot (doughnuts), which have their origins in Germany. All around the world, there are many versions of latkes (potato pancakes), which are fried in oil. 

I decided to share with you three great recipes for the holiday: a traditional recipe for sufganiyot using a yeast-based dough, a quick and easy five-minute recipe for sufganiyot and, of course, strawberry jam for the filling. 

If you ever come to Jerusalem during Chanukah, I hope you will go to all the places my mother used to take me to when I was a little girl. And, of course, you are more than welcome to cook and dine at my place. Happy Chanukah!


  • Strawberry Jam (recipe follows)
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast or 2 envelopes  active dry yeast 
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • Oil for frying
  • Powdered sugar


Prepare Strawberry Jam; set aside.

Crumble yeast into mixer bowl. Add milk, whole egg and egg yolk, mixing well. Add flour, granulated sugar, melted butter and vanilla; stir to combine. 

On a lightly floured surface, knead mixture for 10 minutes. Add salt, and knead for one more minute.

Place mixture in bowl; cover with plastic wrap. With a fork, make holes in the plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm place to rise until mixture doubles in size, approximately 3 hours. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a thickness of about 1 inch. Cut into rounds with a 4-inch-diameter cutter. With oiled hands, shape dough into balls. Allow the dough balls to rise for 20 minutes.

Heat a deep pot of oil to 350 F. Carefully place the doughnuts in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown and floating, then carefully remove from oil and place on paper towels.

When cool, using a pastry bag with a small tip, inject doughnuts with Strawberry Jam, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
  • Oil for frying
  • Strawberry Jam (recipe follows)
  • Powdered sugar


Mix together the first seven ingredients.

Heat a deep pot of oil to 350 F. Carefully place spoonsful of the mixture in the hot oil. When golden brown and floating, carefully remove and place on paper towels.

When cool, using a pastry bag with a small tip, inject doughnuts with Strawberry Jam, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


  • 4 1/2 cups strawberries, rinsed, well-dried and quartered
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 cups granulated sugar


In a wide pot, bring to a boil strawberries and lemon juice; add sugar. Cook over high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture returns to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook for 1 hour, uncovered.

To check for doneness, place a drop of mixture into a glass of iced water. If it holds together and forms a clear shape, it’s ready.

For the Kids


The holiday of lights is here
It gives me such a lift
When candles burn so bright and clear
That I can see my gift!

Have You Lost Your Marbles?

Well, you better find them to make this chanukiah!

You will need:

Nine glass jars (baby food jars work) and colored marbles.

Acetate (a clear hard plastic sheet that can be cut with scissors).

Decorate the outside of the jars with Stars of David or
Chanukah symbols.

Arrange the jars in a line and fill them with the marbles.
Make sure you fill the middle jar higher so that the shamash candle will be
higher than the others. Cut out nine circles from the acetate to fit over the
tops of the jars.

Make a slit in the middle of each circle large enough to
insert a candle.

Now you have your own beautiful chanukiah.

Or try this sweeter version:
Buy nine sufganiyot (jelly donuts) or cupcakes. Line them up.

Wrap the bottoms of the candles in tin foil (to keep them from dripping on the delectable donuts).

Stick them in the middle of each pastry. Yum!