Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking by Uri Scheft is just the kind of cookbook I need right now as the weather turns colder. I’m excited to bake my way through this fabulous new book all winter long.
Scheft is the Danish-Israeli master baker and creative genius behind Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv and Breads Bakery in New York City. Born in Israel to Danish parents, Scheft grew up in both Israel and Denmark. He attended pastry school in Denmark, trained in France and married a woman of Moroccan and Yemenite heritage. In Baking Breads, he combines the many cultural influences of his life—Middle Eastern flavors and traditions, European pastry techniques, his baking experience in Italy, Istanbul, and beyond.
Baking Breads includes 100 unique recipes for flatbreads, stuffed breads, challahs, and cookies including Scheft’s infamous chocolate babka. Scheft also includes many traditional breads that are gaining recognition in the United States such as Kubaneh, Jachnun, and Malawach, three rich, buttery breads that are essential Saturday staples in Moroccan and Yemenite culture. There’s even a chapter on classic Israeli condiments such as hummus, tahini, z’hug, and Israeli hot sauce among others.
Scheft writes that his “passion for bread extends to a constant desire both to discover new breads and to revitalize traditional recipes to suit modern tastes with better-quality ingredients, new fillings, or different shapes.”
Baking Breads is a practical book as Scheft teaches the fundamentals of bread baking with detailed instructions and process photographs on mixing, kneading, proofing, and more. But it’s also gorgeous and would be right at home in my living room next to my coffee table books. And just in time for Hanukkah, Im sharing Scheft’s sufganiyot recipe featured below.
I hope your Hanukkah is filled with light and love. Wishing you all the best this holiday season!
Excerpted from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2016. Photographs by Con Poulos.
From Uri: “Talk about anticipation! People in Israel and New York City go crazy for the bakeries’ debut of sufganiyot; they’ll wait in long, winding lines outside the stores to get a half dozen of these yeasty, airy fried doughnuts that are a special Chanukah treat. While doughnuts are a common morning food year-round in the United States, in Israel they are typically sold only for Chanukah, to celebrate the miracle of the eight days of light. Unlike traditional doughnuts, sufganiyot do not have a hole in the center. They are more like a Boston cream doughnut or a bomboloni, filled from the top with strawberry jam, chocolate, vanilla cream, or other variations like dulce de leche. I make sure to fill the doughnuts with lots of jam or cream—the goal is to have a little filling with every bite of dough (when there is just a dot of filling, you feel so cheated!). Try making these with your children. You can roll the dough and let them use an upside-down glass to stamp out the rounds; then watch their eyes light up in wonder as you fry them in a pot of oil.”
Fresh yeast, 30 grams (¼ cup) or active dry yeast, 12 grams (2¼ teaspoons)
Warm water, 30 grams (2 tablespoons)
All-purpose flour (sifted, 11.7%), 500 grams (4 cups), plus extra for kneading and rolling
Granulated sugar, 65 grams (¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon)
Large egg yolks, 2
2 Large eggs, 1
Warm whole milk, 120 grams (½ cup)
Grated orange zest
Pinch Fresh orange juice, 30 grams (2 tablespoons)
Brandy (optional)15 grams (1 tablespoon)
Fine salt, ½ teaspoon
Vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter (at room temperature), 90 grams (6 tablespoons)
Vegetable oil, about 1.8 liters (8 cups) or as needed for frying
Strawberry jam, 490 grams (1½ cups)
Confectioners’ sugar for finishing
1 Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, use your fingers to dissolve the yeast into the warm water. Stir in 10 grams (1 tablespoon) of the flour and 5 grams (1 tablespoon) of the sugar, and set aside until the mixture is bubbling, about 15 minutes.
2 Add the egg yolks, whole egg, warm milk, orange zest and juice, brandy (if using), salt, vanilla, the remaining sugar, and the flour to the yeast mixture. Attach the dough hook and mix on low speed until the dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes.
3 With the mixer running on medium speed, gradually add the butter, a pinch at a time. Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (add a few spoons of flour if needed), is smooth and shiny, and is beginning to climb up the dough hook. This will take about 4 minutes.
4 Stretch and fold the dough, then let it rise: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly dust the top of the dough with flour. Stretch the top piece of the dough until it tears, then fold it on top of the center. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat, tearing and folding, adding more flour as needed, until the dough isn’t sticky, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured bowl, sprinkle the top with flour, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set it aside in a warm and draft-free spot until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
5 Roll and stamp the dough: Set the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and use a rolling pin to roll it into a ½-inch-thick sheet. Use a 2½-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter to stamp out rounds of dough. Stamp them out as close together as possible to minimize the amount of scraps; after pressing the cutter into the dough, twist it before pulling it out from the sheet of dough (to help strengthen the seal so the doughnut puffs nicely during frying). Gather the scraps; press them together; rest for 5 minutes, covered; and then gently reroll them to stamp out a few more sufganiyot. Discard the remaining bits of scraps.
6 Let the dough proof: Place the dough rounds on a lightly greased (use a little oil) parchment paper–lined sheet pan and cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a draft-free spot at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes. (At this point, after rising, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 hours before frying.)
7 Fry the dough: Fill a large saucepan with enough oil to reach a depth of 4 inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reads 350°F on an instant-read thermometer. Start with one sufganiya and fry, turning it with a slotted spoon or frying spider, until both sides are golden, about 2 minutes. Use the spider or slotted spoon to transfer the doughnut to a paper towel–lined plate or sheet pan. Continue frying the remaining doughnuts in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan; otherwise, the oil will cool and the doughnuts will absorb more oil and become greasy. Let the doughnuts cool completely before filling them.
8 Fill the sufganiyot: Place the jam in a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape the jam into a piping bag fitted with a ¼-inch round tip and insert the tip into the top of a doughnut. Squeeze jam into the doughnut until the jam begins to ooze out of the hole at the top. Repeat with the remaining sufganiyot. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Makes 25 sufganiyot