Who doesn’t love donuts for Hanukkah? Or anytime, really! In this recipe, I’ve actually used my favorite challah dough as the base for perfect fried donuts. The result is a donut that’s airy and fluffy, thanks to water (instead of milk) in the dough. The cranberry jam is bright and tart and flavored with fresh orange juice and sage. This treat is versatile enough that it can be served for Thanksgiving alongside the turkey, or on Hanukkah or anytime you’re hankering for a good jelly donut.
The dough needs to be made the night before you fry the donuts, so plan accordingly.
If you want to makes these donuts a little extra fancy with some fall-flavored flair, you can top the donuts with homemade sage sugar. To make: Combine 2 cups granulated sugar with 6 fresh sage leaves and pulse in a food processor until combined — the sugar should be flecked with green. Transfer to an airtight container until ready to use.
The sage sugar will keep, covered, for one month at room temperature. The cranberry jam will keep for 1 week in the fridge.
For the cranberry jam:
- 12 oz. fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- juice of one orange
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 4-5 fresh sage leaves
For the dough:
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- To make the cranberry jam: In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, sea salt and sage leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries have broken down and the sauce has thickened and turned jammy. Remove from heat and discard the sage leaves. Set aside until ready to use. (This step can be prepared ahead).
- To make the dough: Heat the water until warm to the touch, around 110 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the water, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and yeast. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the flour, kosher salt, nutmeg and orange zest. Mix until just combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed for about 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky — this is perfectly fine.
- Increase the speed to medium and add the butter to the mixture, one cube at a time. Once all the butter has been added, mix the dough on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes, until completely smooth and elastic. To test the dough’s readiness, try stretching a piece of it. It should stretch easily to a point where it becomes translucent but doesn’t rip.
- Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours, or overnight.
- When ready to make the donuts, line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust the paper well with flour. Tip the cold dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a 9 1/2-by-12 1 ⁄2-inch rectangle. It should be about 1/2-inch thick.
- Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 12 dough rounds and set them on the prepared sheets. Lightly cover them with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to proof for about 1 1/2 hours. After proofing, the dough should look puffy and spring back slowly when pressed gently.
- When you’re ready to fry, line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Spoon the cranberry jam into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip.
- Add the oil to a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. Heat the oil to between 350 and 365 F. Carefully add 2 to 3 donuts to the oil and fry them until golden brown, around 2 to 3 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fried donuts from the fryer and transfer to paper towels.
- To fill the donuts: Use a knife or a chopstick to poke a hole into one side of each doughnut. Be careful not to poke through to the other side. Insert the tip of the pastry bag into the hole and gently squeeze to fill.
- Top with powdered sugar (or sage sugar, if desired — see note above). Serve immediately.