Hanukkah donuts (sufganiyot) are typically filled with jelly, but I prefer them with custard. I experimented with making custard using buttermilk, and the result is tangy yet sweet, almost like a rich, creamy vanilla yogurt. The donuts themselves are made with pizza dough, a tip suggested by various food blogs. The idea is to use store-bought dough to save time, but naturally, I made my own. I was skeptical at first, but the contrast between the unsweetened dough, cinnamon sugar coating, and tangy buttermilk filling is divine. In a pinch, use store-bought pizza dough, but this recipe comes together quickly; you can easily prepare it the night before baking, and store it in the fridge.
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Prepare the dough: In a small bowl, combine flour and salt, and set aside. Place warm water in a large bowl. Gently stir in sugar and yeast until dissolved. Set aside in a warm spot for about 10-15 minutes, until frothy. Add olive oil, then flour mixture. Stir ingredients together until a soft dough just comes together. Directly in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic. It should spring back when touched. Return dough to the bowl, if you removed it to knead, and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for at least two hours. For best results, prepare the dough the day before and refrigerate overnight. Allow time for dough to return to room temperature before frying.
Prepare the custard: In a medium saucepan, combine buttermilk and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat egg. Add flour and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, whisking until smooth. Pour a little buttermilk mixture into the egg mixture, stirring without stopping as you do so; this will prevent the eggs from curdling. Add egg mixture to the saucepan. Stirring continuously, bring to a simmer and allow mixture to thicken; this may take around 10 minutes. Let boil for a minute, continuing to stir. Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla. Pour into a large, shallow glass container or baking dish to cool at room temperature. If preparing in advance, press plastic wrap over the surface of the custard (this will prevent a film from forming.) After cooling at room temperature, refrigerate.
Fry and assemble: In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Roll out pizza dough until around 1/4 inch thick, and cut into circles using round cookie cutter (I used a 2-inch cookie cutter.) In a saucepan or large frying pan, heat about 2 inches of oil to approximately 350 degrees F. Fry circles of dough, a few at a time, on each side, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place on paper-towel-lined plate to remove excess oil. While still warm, roll in cinnamon sugar. Poke a hole through the center with a skewer, and fill with custard, or dig a hole with a spoon and scoop in custard. These are best eaten right away, but leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container.