Zoe Francois's Sufganiyot: A classic Chanukah treat [RECIPE]

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Zoe Francois
Make them for the first night of Chanukah
With the first night of Chanukah coming up fast (it starts next Tuesday, December 20, at sunset), the Hot Dish started asking around for some great recipes by local chefs. We got a chance to get up close and personal in a two-part interview with pastry chef Zoe Francois last week, and we also got her to share some the sweetest ways that her five-minutes-a- day method can be applied. Her recipe for sufganiyot, a classic Chanukah dessert, uses the Brioche dough from her Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook. Here is Francois on one of her favorite Chanukah treats:

This month my family celebrates Chanukah and Christmas, which is a bakers dream come true. For the Jewish holiday my family revels in the amount of doughnuts (sufganiyot) we can eat. It is tradition to eat fried food, lots of it, during Chanukah, which is something I easily embrace. We start with lacy potato latkes and end the meal with jelly doughnuts. This year I'll fill them with jam, jelly and preserves, and top with a healthy shake of powdered sugar. With a bucket of brioche dough (recipe below) from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and some vegetable oil you are ready to make doughnuts that are better than the bakery down the street.

Sufganiyot

1 ½ pounds Brioche dough (recipe follows)
Vegetable oil for frying
1 jar of your favorite jam, jelly or preserves
Powdered sugar for dusting on top

Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thick and use a round cutter to create the circles (the size will depend on how big you want your doughnuts). Lay the cut out circles on a lightly floured baking sheet or wax paper. Cover loosely with plastic and let them rest for about 30 minutes. You can fry them right away, but the doughnuts will be lighter if you allow them to rest. 

Heat about 4 inches of oil in a large pot. You want to make sure there is plenty of room above the oil. Set up a candy thermometer  on the rim.

Once the oil reaches 360° F you can fry the doughnuts. Depending on the size of your pot you will want to fry 2 or 3 at a time. Make sure they have plenty of room to expand without crowding each other. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes on one side and then flip, you may have to do this a couple of times until they are golden brown.
Remove the doughnuts and allow them to cool on a plate covered in paper towel.

Once the doughnuts are completely cool, poke the tip of a paring knife into one end to create a hole.

Fill a decorating bag with jelly.

Cut a small hole in the pastry bag and fill the doughnut with the jelly. You want enough jelly so that every bite will have some, but not so much that it will be a huge mouth full of it.

For a simple finish just use a sugar shaker  or sieve filled with powdered sugar and dust the tops. (You can also use ganache with toasted pecans and cream cheese icing with sprinkles. Recipes for these toppings can be found on www.zoebakes.com.)
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Zoe Francois
The importance of waiting: doughnut on the left has been allowed to rise whereas the one on the right has not.
Brioche Dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
(Makes about four 1-pound loaves or several dozen doughnuts)

1½ cups lukewarm water 
1½ tablespoons yeast
1½ tablespoons salt
½ cup honey
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
7½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)

1. Mix yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with water in a 5 quart lidded (not airtight) container.
2. Mix in flour without kneading, using a spoon, 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook).  You may need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you're not using a machine.  The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled (don't try to use it without chilling).  You may notice lumps in the dough but they will disappear in your finished products.  
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.  
4. Dough can be used as soon as it's chilled after the initial rise, or frozen for later use.  Refrigerate remainder and use over the next 5 days. 

For instructional pictures on how to make the doughnuts and more bread recipes please visit www.breadin5.com


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