DESSERT, RECIPES, VEGAN

Moroccan Donuts – Sfenj

December 20, 2011
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Chanukah is the holiday of lights, miracles, and donuts! Every year, for Chanukah, I make the classic jelly donuts – “sufganiyot” in Hebrew – but this year, I decided to go back to my roots. For the first time in my life I made Moroccan Donuts, or “sfinj.” Sfinj are traditional Moroccan donuts.

I was a bit nervous because my mother never made them, so I assumed that they are hard to make (when I told her that I made them and it was easy she said she never liked them or any fried pastry, that’s why she never made them). The dough is made with fresh yeast and is pretty easy to make, but it is very soft and sticky, so you must work quickly. 

Honestly, I enjoyed the process, it was therapeutic. 

The great thing and the bad thing about these yummy pastries is that they’re fluffy and light, much lighter and fluffier than traditional sufganiyot.

AND the best part: they are vegan! 

Happy Chanuka xxs

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Moroccan Donuts

Before you start, you should know that the dough needs one and half or two hours to rise. Also, I urge you to make sure that the frying pan is placed on a rear burner and that the small kids are not in the kitchen. 

Optional: my husband came up with the brilliant idea to coat them with cinnamon mixed with sugar, which made them taste like churros. My neighbor suggested to drizzle them with maple or agave syrup. You can also simply eat them with jam. God they’re so good. 

Ingredients

Yields 25 big donuts.

  • 7½  cups (1 kg) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1.8 oz. (50 gr) fresh baker’s yeast
  • ⅔ cups sugar
  • 3⅓ cups (800 ml.) luke warm water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup canola oil in a small bowl – for dipping hands while working with the dough
  • Canola oil for deep frying
  • A plate or bowl with raw cane sugar for sprinkling (Cinnamon optional), maple syrup, agave or honey

Directions

  1. Sift the flour into an electric mixer bowl with the dough hook. Crumble the yeast with your hands into the bowl. Add the sugar and water, and turn on the mixer on low speed for two minutes. Add the salt and mix for exactly two minutes. The dough should be very soft, so don’t be tempted to add more flour!
  2. Put the dough into a bigger bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit somewhere fairly warm – just over room temperature – but not too warm, e.g., don’t leave it near a radiator! Wait until it doubles in size – about 2 hours.
  3. Use a wooden spoon dipped in oil to mix the dough for 1 minute, then cover again with the plastic wrap until the dough doubles in size again – about 30 minutes.
  4. Put enough oil for deep frying in your biggest frying pan (about 3″ deep) and turn the heat on medium high. (To check if the oil is at the right temperature, put a small piece of carrot in the pan. You should see bubbles. If there are no bubbles around the carrot, then the oil is not hot enough. If the carrot turns brown in less than 15 seconds, then the oil is too hot.)
  5. When you’re ready to fry, dip your hands in oil, then grab some dough with one hand, pull it up, and, with the other hand, pinch off a handful-sized piece. Hold the dough with two hands, and punch a hole in the middle of it with your fingers. (It sounds complicated but it’s really easy and fun). Stretch the dough a bit to create a ring, then gently place it in the pan. Fill the pan with as many rings as you can fit.
  6. Cook until the bottom of the sfinj is golden brown, then flip them with a metal spatula – about 2 minutes each side.
  7. While the sfinj are frying, place a paper towel on a large flat plate. When the sfinj are done on both sides, remove them from the pan and place on the paper towel, and start frying your second batch.
  8. While you wait for the second batch to cook, coat the ones that are done with the sugar. Let them cool for a few minutes – they are best when fresh and warm!

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8 Comments

  • Reply Tom Levin December 24, 2011 at 09:52

    Mmmm… Well done cousin!!!

    • Reply Shelly December 24, 2011 at 20:23

      Thanks Babe!

  • Reply Adam Becker December 26, 2011 at 00:03

    Shelly,
    Astounding Sfinj – and being one of the only ones to have actually tasted them straight from your kitchen, I must admit that these donuts are the delight of Chanukah: they taste amazing and have a texture to die for…
    Once again, good job!

    • Reply Shelly December 26, 2011 at 00:12

      Thank you dear! you’re always invited in my kitchen xs

  • Reply Carmit December 26, 2011 at 17:27

    The best Donuts ever.
    Great blog easy to follow recipes,nice pictures.Well done.

    • Reply Shelly December 26, 2011 at 18:48

      Thank you!

  • Reply Ronna November 14, 2013 at 19:50

    When I lived in israel I remember a morrocain friend made a similar fried dough but she let the dough free form into the oil. When they were stacked up on the plate they were dripped with lots of honey. Is sfenj the same thing????

    • Reply Shelly November 21, 2013 at 20:42

      Ronna, I think so. But perhaps it was shbakia, which is also fried and covered with honey? You just reminded me to make this recipe for chanuka. Thank you!

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