I’m not saying that the best holidays are celebrated with donuts. I’m just saying that they don’t hurt.
Sufganiyot are Israeli filled, sugared donuts served during Hanukkah (as are many fried foods, to celebrate the miracle). While there are many varieties, you’ll usually see these filled with raspberry jam and topped with powdered sugar.
Sound oddly familiar? Yeah, they’re pączki.
This take on the Berliner was spread by Polish Jewish immigrants starting in the 19th century. Along the way, they were renamed in Israel based on a description in the Talmud of “spongy dough.” In the 1920s, the Israeli Labor Federation named them the official dish of Hanukkah.
It’s hard to imagine, but the filled, sweet donut was something of a revelation. Before, they were savory (owing largely to the cost of sugar). When the recipe dropped juuuuuust after the invention of the printing press, people were rightfully taken with this treat. The form has evolved since its debut, given that the OG was more of a donut sandwich situation.
Probably the biggest difference between sufganiyot and pączki today is shape and production: the former tend to be handmade, smaller and rounder while most of us grip commercially-made pączki that are larger and flatter. More people seem to be familiar with pączki due to the iconic red boxes and their proximity to a holiday that far more people celebrate. I think a lot of us goys have been shy to explore Hanukkah foods, but while the terminology here is clearly Jewish, the food itself is deliciously universal.
Jelly Donut recipe by Smitten Kitchen
Cranberry Jelly-filled Sufganiyot recipe on Food52 (for Thanksgivikkah)
Orange-Scented Jelly Donuts recipe on New York Times Cooking