Jelly Donut Making

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‘Twas the night before Hanukkah, and you know what we’re doing? Well, one of us is working. And one of us is a crazy personal chef who decided a week before Hanukkah that she would take orders for jelly donuts — the Hanukkah treat more properly known as sufganiyot — and is currently cranking out literally hundreds of hand-sculpted, organic, jam-filled donuts.

jelly donuts hanukkah

To the left you can see a medicine injector. She tracked down the perfect injector to pierce the donut skin after they’ve been baked and squeeze in as much jelly as you possibly can. This year she’s doing three flavors: apple and ginger; pear spice; and apple, quince and cardamom. We tested out a bunch of different ways of squeezing in the filling, and this thing ended up being the most useful.

jelly donuts hanukkah

Itta is a firm believer in organic stuff. Even when you’re eating calorically-loaded, sticky gooey sugar-filled treats, there’s still a way to do it right. On the other hand, margarine is antithetical to the cook’s existence. Anthony Bourdain, in his book Kitchen Confidential, writes:

“Margarine? That’s not food. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter? I can. If you’re planning on using margarine in anything, you can stop reading now, because I won’t be able to help you. Even the Italians — you know, those crafty Tuscans — spout off about getting away from butter and extol the glories of olive oil (and it is glorious), but pay a surprise visit to the kitchen of that three-star Northern Italian, and what’s that they’re sneaking into the pasta? And the risotto? And the veal chop? Could it be? Is it…why, I can’t believe it IS butter!”

So, yeah. Melted-down and reconstituted vegetable oil does not have a place in our house desserts. Here’s the butter melting down:

jelly donuts hanukkah

One thing I learned last night: On Hanukkah, Jews have a custom to eat dairy foods. It’s a tribute to the daughter of Yochanan, the high priest, who was captured and was going to be raped by a Greek general. She fed him salty cheeses and dairy, and when he was thirsty she gave him wine, and then he fell asleep from the wine and she chopped off his head. (Not, we should add, the only time in Jewish history where a Jewish woman has saved herself and her people by chopping off an evil man’s head.)

So, bottoms up! Cinnamon-and-sugar-coated donut bottoms, that is.

Posted on December 11, 2009

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