My wife’s family is Sephardic, so for Hanukkah we don’t make sufganiyot, we make rustic yeast-raised and fried donuts called buñuelos. This is my wife’s grandmother, Sophie Morhaime’s, recipe. For Hanukkah we have them with the traditional honey; any other time they are also terrific with powdered sugar.
The dough for buñuelos should be quite wet. This isn’t a doughnut that you roll out. You wet your hands, grab a piece of dough, form a rough ball and poke a hole with your thumb, then drop it straight in the oil. The result is unfussy, light and airy, and altogether insanely delicious. They are so simple to make that you could stir up the dough in just a few minutes before dinner, and fry them up afterwards to entertain and thrill the kids.
Buñuelos (or Bimuelos) with Honey — Sephardic Hanukkah Donuts
Vegan if you use powdered sugar instead of honey
Yields about 14 donuts
1 package dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
2 cups warm water, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. oil
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (14.6 ounces)
Oil for deep frying
Honey (or powdered sugar)
Stir the yeast into 1 cup of the warm water and allow to proof. (If you don’t see bubbles after a few minutes, buy new yeast.) Mix in the remaining cup of water along with the salt, sugar and tablespoon of oil. Slowly stir in the flour, and keep stirring until you have a smooth, wet dough. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for at least one hour. (I’ve allowed it to go four hours, stirring down occasionally, and it only gets more delicious).
Put 3 inches of oil in a pot suitable for deep frying and bring to 370º. Line a tray with paper towels. Get a bowl of water ready.
Moisten your hands in the bowl of water and grab about 3 tablespoons of the dough. Quickly form it into a rough ball and poke a hole through the center. These are supposed to be rustic, don’t spend any time trying to make them perfect. Drop carefully into the oil. Repeat for as many as will fit comfortably in your pot without crowding. Fry until golden brown on one side, then flip and brown the other side. Use a slotted spoon to remove to paper towels.
Drizzle with honey (or offer honey for dipping, or dust with powdered sugar) and serve immediately.