Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration also known as the Festival of Lights. The story of Hanukkah is found in the Talmud, a scholarly and historic text of Jewish law and theology. It commemorates a miracle during the Maccabean Revolt more than two thousand years ago, when the Second Temple menorah was lit and a minimal supply of oil somehow lasted for eight days.

As a result, oil features prominently in Hanukkah traditions, and many people include foods fried in oil as part of their holiday dinners or desserts.

Many cultures have a version of potato pancakes. Those made for Hanukkah celebrations are known as latkes, a Yiddish word that loosely translates to “little oily thing.” They are traditionally served with sour cream and applesauce for toppings.

For something sweet, a traditional dessert is sufganiyot, otherwise known as jelly donuts. According to My Jewish Learning, jelly doughnuts became tied to Hanukkah during the Middle Ages. Early on they were known as “ponchiks” because they were modeled after the doughnuts served in Poland around Christmastime. But eventually they took the name sufganiyot, from the “spongy dough” mentioned in the Talmud.


Enjoy this recipe for “Latkes,” courtesy of AllRecipes.com.

Serves 12

3 large potatoes, peeled, shredded, and drained

To achieve crispy results, remove moisture from the potatoes. Working in batches, places handfuls in the middle of a clean tea towel, roll up, and wring as much moisture as possible over the sink.

1 small onion, shredded

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or as needed

1⁄2 cup vegetable oil

1. Place the potatoes and onion into a bowl, and stir in eggs, salt and flour as needed to make the mixture hold together. With wet hands, scoop up about 1⁄3 cup of the mixture per patty, and form into flat round or oval shapes.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, and gently place the patties into the hot oil. Fry until the bottoms are golden brown and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes, then flip with a spatula and fry the other side until golden.

3. Line a cooling rack or colander with 2 paper towels, and rest the cooked latkes for a minute or two. Serve hot.


Enjoy this recipe for “Sufganiyot,” courtesy of Martha Stewart. It’s a bit of work—pastry bag required—but the result is the delicious reward.


Yield: 20

2 tablespoons active dry yeast

1⁄2 cup warm water (100 to 110 F)

1⁄4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more for rolling

2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons salt

3 cups vegetable oil, plus more for bowl

1 cup seedless raspberry jam

1. In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Place flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center; add eggs, yeast mixture, 1⁄4 cup sugar, butter, nutmeg, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir until a sticky dough forms. On a well-floured work surface, knead until dough is smooth, soft, and bounces back when poked with a finger, about 8 minutes (add more flour, if necessary). Place in an oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, 1 to 11⁄2 hours.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness. Using a 21⁄2-inch-round cutter or drinking glass, cut 20 rounds. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise 15 minutes.

4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil until a deep-frying thermometer registers 370 F. Using a slotted spoon, carefully slip 4 rounds into oil. Fry until golden, about 40 seconds. Turn doughnuts over; fry until golden on other side, another 40 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Roll in sugar while warm. Fry all dough, and roll in sugar.

5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #4 tip with jam. Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Fit the pastry tip into a hole, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

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