Rekindle...Explore Global Jewish Community

Hanukkah in Greece


Greek Donut

At Hanukkah we celebrate the victory of the few Maccabees over the mighty Greek army. Nonetheless, over the generations, indeed from the time of the Maccabees, Greece was home to Jewish communities. Years later, in 1492, when the Spanish Inquisition banished the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula if they did not convert, Sephardi Jews were welcome to settle in the Ottoman Empire which included Greece. The Sephardim brought many musical, linguistic, religious and culinary customs to Greece, including the eating of Bunuelos, or honey donuts at Hanukkah. This recipe comes from Seattle Chef Michael Natkin who married into a Greek Jewish family. Easy to make and great to eat, Bunuelos will bring a touch of Greece to your holiday celebration.

You too can join in the Greek Jewish fun by trying out this wonderful recipe for Bunuelos or Bimuelos a fried doughnut that Chef Michael Natkin learned to cook when he married into a Greek Sephardic family in Seattle. Natkin explains, these are not typical American doughnuts: "The dough for bunuelos should be quite wet. This isn't a doughnut that you roll out. You wet your hands, grab a piece of dough, form a rough ball and poke a hole with your thumb, then drop it straight in the oil. The result is unfussy, light and airy, and altogether insanely delicious. They are so simple to make that you could stir up the dough in just a few minutes before dinner, and fry them up afterwards to entertain and thrill the kids." Here is his recipe reprinted with his permission:

Bunuelos (or Bimuelos) with Honey - Sephardic Hanukkah Donuts
Vegan if you use powdered sugar instead of honey
Yields about 14 donuts

1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 cups warm water, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon oil
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (14.6 ounces)
oil for deep frying
honey (or powdered sugar)

Stir the yeast into 1 cup of the warm water and allow to proof. (If you don't see bubbles after a few minutes, buy new yeast.) Mix in the remaining cup of water along with the salt, sugar and tablespoon of oil. Slowly stir in the flour, and keep stirring until you have a smooth, wet dough. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for at least 1 hour. (I've allowed it to go four hours, stirring down occasionally, and it only gets more delicious).

Put 3 inches of oil in a pot suitable for deep frying and bring to 370 degrees F. Line a tray with paper towels. Get a bowl of water ready.

Moisten your hands in the bowl of water and grab about 3 tablespoons of the dough. Quickly form it into a rough ball and poke a hole through the center. These are supposed to be rustic, don't spend any time trying to make them perfect. Drop carefully into the oil. Repeat for as many as will fit comfortably in your pot without crowding. Fry until golden brown on one side, then flip and brown the other side. Use a slotted spoon to remove to paper towels.

Drizzle with honey (or offer honey for dipping, or dust with powdered sugar) and serve immediately.