Larry did a great roundup of Hanukkah treats featuring all kinds of latkes and stuff and last night, here at Beit Jewlicious, we ate some of the craziest doughnuts ever made. Today I’d like to make the case for these Moroccan doughnuts known as Sfenj (pl. Sfenjat). Mom would make them for us and they were just completely out of this world, despite their relative simplicity. They contain no milk, the dough isn’t sweetened, no fancy icing or fillings and their gnarled look is reminiscent of the Judaean Hills upon which the Maccabees fought for their freedom. Again, don’t be fooled by their simplicity, these are out of this world, easy to prepare on the spot for your guests and do not cost 9 shekels ($2.50) a piece.
Here’s a recipe, try it (you won’t regret it) and let us know how it went:
The dough for sfenj should be quite sticky. Allow 3 to 4 hours rising time. This recipe yields 8 to 10 three-inch sfenj.
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup warm water
vegetable oil, for frying
sugar, for garnish (optional)
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and yeast mixture, and stir vigorously with your hand or a spoon until smooth. The dough should be too sticky to knead or shape, almost like a batter. Cover the bowl, and leave the dough to rise for three to four hours, until double or triple in bulk.
In a wide pot, heat an inch or more of vegetable oil until hot. Dip your hands in water, and pull off a piece of dough about the size of a small plum. Use your fingers to make a hole in the ball of dough, stretch the hole wide to make a ring, and place the dough in the hot oil.
Repeat with the remaining dough, wetting your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking as you work with it.
Fry the sfenj until golden brown, turning once or twice. Remove the cooked sfenj to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Serve the sfenj hot. If desired, dip the sfenj in sugar to sweeten them. They’re also good served with sweet Moroccan tea (Chinese Gunpowder Tea, fresh sprigs of mint and as much sugar as you can handle).
And seriously, anyone wanna come over and make this for me? Please?