How to Make Sfinge (Moroccan Doughnuts)
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Take a trip to Morocco with us as we learn about sfinge from food blogger and author Danielle Renov. It's a doughnut-like Hanukkah tradition.
The love of doughnuts is shared by people around the world. For example, in the US, we have our Boston cream doughnuts and Long Johns; in Italy, they have zeppole; and in Mexico they have churros. But have you ever heard of sfinge? Danielle Renov, food blogger and author of the cookbook Peas, Love and Carrots shared her recipe for these Moroccan deep-fried delights.
Danielle grew up eating sfinge with her family during Hanukkah. Today, she says she can close her eyes and be transported back to the windy mountain roads of Morocco where men and women enjoy sfinge daily with hot tea from shops that speckle the roadsides.
What Are Sfinge?
Sfinge are Morocco’s version of the doughnut. This pastry is light, airy and made with a sticky, batter-like yeasted dough. Like an American doughnut, sfinge are fried in hot oil and then coated in sweet sugar while they’re still hot. As a popular street food in Morocco, you’ll often see these delectable rings of fried dough hanging from strings in shop windows to draw in customers.
While sfinge are eaten daily in Morocco as a snack or with breakfast alongside a hot cup of morning tea, sfinge are also commonly served around Hanukkah.
What Is the Difference Between Sfinge and Zeppole?
Both are made using a yeasted, fried dough and result in an incredibly light, spongy doughnut. But they do have a handful of distinct differences. In Morocco, sfinge are always formed into a ring and most commonly coated in granulated sugar or soaked in honey. (Learn more about Moroccan food.)
In Italy, on the other hand, zeppole are typically shaped into a simple ball of dough or piped into a rosette using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Then, zeppole are dusted with powdered sugar or filled with jelly, custard or pastry cream. In certain regions of Italy, zeppole can also refer to baked versions of this traditionally fried treat.
How to Make Sfinge
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 heaping tablespoons dry yeast
- 1 scant tablespoon kosher salt
- 2-3 cups warm water
- Oil, for frying
- 3 cups granulated sugar, on a plate
1. Prepare the dough
Place the flour into a large bowl. Then, make a well in the center and add yeast. Next, make an indentation around the edge of the bowl in the flour so that the salt can be sprinkled around the outer edge of the flour. Slowly add 1 cup water to the well and then let it rest for 2 minutes.
Then, use your hands to work the flour into the water, slowly pulling in more flour. Gradually add more water until all the flour is incorporated. The finished dough should be very sticky but not liquidy.
Danielle’s Tip: Add in no more than 1⁄4 cup water at a time. Remember: You can always add more but you can’t take it out! Ultimately, you’ll need to add at least 2 cups of water but may need more depending on how dry your kitchen is.
2. Let the dough rise
3. Fry the doughnuts
In a large pot, heat 4 inches of oil to 350°F. Place a bowl of water next to you on the countertop. Then, dip your hands into the water and pull a handful of dough from the bowl. Make a hole in the center, using your hands to slightly stretch out the dough and make a ring. Place the dough into the hot oil and fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove the dough from the oil and immediately roll in sugar, covering completely. Set aside. Repeat with remaining dough.
Danielle’s Tip: Don’t skip the water! Dipping your hands into the bowl of water prevents the dough from sticking to your fingers.
The doughnuts are best served hot and fresh paired with sweet Moroccan mint tea.
Recipe excerpted from Peas, Love and Carrots by Danielle Renov. Copyright 2020 by ArtScroll Mesorah Publications, photos by Moshe Wulliger.