Frying Up a New(er) Tradition
Hannukah is just around the corner, that means it’s time for sufganiyot! Jelly doughnuts might not be as iconic as latkes when it comes to tasting the Jewish festival of lights in America, but Israel’s sufganiyot offer a sweet way to celebrate.
Though jelly doughnuts weren’t part of the ancient diet back when the Hanukkah story took place millenniums ago, but neither were potato pancakes! Both these foods fried in grease recognize the miracle of Hanukkah, when the oil fueling the menorah in the Temple, only believed to be enough for one day, miraculously burned for eight days. So bring on eight days of greasy food to celebrate!
Jelly doughnuts can be traced back to Germany circa 1485, in a recipe popularized by the cookbook Kuchenmeisterei (Mastery of the Kitchen). As years passed, regional variations of jam-stuffed fried dough evolved: Paczki in Poland, krapfen in Austria and North African fried dough all became popular treats.
In the early 20th century, Jews began fleeing anti-Semitism and emigrating from these places to Israel, where the jelly doughnut took on the name sufganiyah.
The popularity of the jelly doughnut over the latke traces back to Israel’s short job supply in the late 1920s. Histadrut, the Israeli labor federation, strategically promoted sufganiyot as a holiday treat. Significantly more difficult for home cooks to make than latkes, these jelly doughnuts were best enjoyed from a bakery, and baking and selling them, therefore, provided jobs!
The Corner Café
3718 Riverdale Ave Bronx, NY
Special for Hanukkah, this kosher bakery and restaurant makes their own sufganiyot in-house. The flavor will be announced closer to the holiday.
5663 Riverdale Ave, Bronx, NY
To complement their regular selection of kosher baked goods (challah, bagels, loaf cakes), Gruenebaum’s fries up special batches of sufganiyot in flavors like raspberry and caramel for Hanukkah.
552 W. 235th St, Bronx, NY
The oldest deli in the Bronx outsources its sufganiyot, so you can pick up an order here along with face-sized latkes and warming matzo ball soup for your Hanukkah fix.
210 E. 144th St, Bronx, NY
It’s all about the jelly doughnut at this Mott Haven sweet shop. Find them covered in powdered sugar and ready to ooze sugary jelly, just as they should be.
Kingsbridge Donut Shop
249 W. 231st St, Bronx, NY
This no-frills, old-fashioned diner churns out fresh doughnuts on the regular, and while they may not be dubbed sufganiyot, per se, the $1 fresh jelly-filled doughnuts are exactly what you want to stuff in your mouth on a cold winter day.
308 E. 78th St., Manhattan, NY
This centenarian Upper East Side bakery is a December destination for many who want to indulge in hand-stuffed jelly doughnuts. The sour cherry are a favorite, with the tartness of the filling contrasting with the sweet sugar granules on top in the most perfect way possible. Other fruity flavors include strawberry, raspberry and blueberry.
18 E. 16th St., Manhattan, NY
The beloved purveyor of New York’s favorite rugelach and Nutella babka creates seasonal sufganiyot with annually changing flavors like dulce de leche, strawberry and chocolate. You’ll forget all about latkes with these sweet fried delights.
379 Grand St., Manhattan, NY
While these haute doughnuts may not resemble the sufganiyot of early Israeli settlers, you’ll happily get your jelly doughnut fix here, in the form of a square-shaped doughnut infused with homemade jelly and peanut butter that ensure you get a bite of filling in each icing-coated bit
This article appeared in Winter Traditions 2016 edition of Edible Bronx