RECIPE: Moroccan Sfenj Donuts for Hannukah


Still frying for Hannukah but ready for something different? Try these light, crisp North African doughnuts.

Two more candles to light for the Hannukah holiday, and maybe we’re running out of ideas for fried delicacies. Try these  Moroccan donuts. Traditionally served at family get-togethers, they’re lighter than most fried sweet things and so easy to eat.  Sfenj are a treat anytime and fit in perfectly with Hannukah. Of course, if you want to put out a beautiful array of desserts, there’s our Malabi milk pudding and of course, our Sufganyot (jelly donuts).

Sfenj – Moroccan Donuts

This recipe makes a lot of sfenj, enough  for 12 people. It may be halved. Note: the dough needs several hour’s rising time.


1 cup warm water

1 oz. fresh yeast

2 lbs. sifted white flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups more warm water

Oil for frying the sfenj

Granulated sugar

Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of water.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast/water mixture. Add 1 1/4 more cups of water.

Mix the ingredients with a long-handled spoon. If it becomes difficult, add a little more water. The texture should be loose and sticky, more like a thick batter than a dough. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise 3 to 4 hours. It should be light and bubbly, having doubled in size.

Start heating the oil in a deep frying pan. Use a medium flame and give the oil at least 5 minutes to heat up.

Don’t beat the dough down. You want to keep as much of the bubbles in it as you can, to keep the fritter light. When the oil is hot, wet your hands and pull out a piece of dough about the size of a large plum. Pull the center of the dough lump out to the sides, making a hole in it and forming a ring. Drop it into the hot oil.

Keep your hands wet to prevent the dough from sticking. Drop the fritters into the oil one by one, but don’t crowd them in the pan. When you see that the bottoms are brown, turn them over. When both sides are golden brown, remove the sfenj from the oil. Drain them on paper towels.

Let the fritters cool down slightly, then lower each one onto a plate that’s covered with a thick layer of sugar. It’s enough to sugar only one side. Remove them from the sugar and pile them onto a clean platter.

Serve right away, with coffee or tea.


More festive Middle-Eastern recipes from Green Prophet:

M’amoul Cookies

Creamy Eggplant Soup

Butternut Squash Stuffed With Quinoa

Photo of Sfenj by Miriam Kresh

Miriam also writes a food blog.

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