By Sina Mizrahi
Sfinj is an airy Moroccan doughnut that’s served plain, sprinkled with sugar or soaked in honey. The leavened dough is shaped into rings and deep fried until golden and crispy with a fluffy interior.
My Savta would make sfinj for every milestone, every celebration, or for no particular reason. It was a happy food, filled with love. There wasn’t a time I visited her in Israel and wasn’t greeted by her smile and sfinj; honey-lacquered and just-sweet. This isn’t her recipe per se; she works the dough by feel, but I’d say it’s close. Every time I make them, I feel instantly connected to her from afar.
MAKES 12 DOUGHNUTS
1 Tbsp instant dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 cups warm water
4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
oil, for frying
½ cup granulated sugar, for coating
honey, for serving
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk yeast, sugar, and water until combined. Let stand until foamy and active, 5 minutes. Add flour and salt; using the dough hook, knead on medium speed until a raggedy dough forms. Cover; rest the dough for 15 minutes.
2. Turn the mixer to medium speed; knead for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high for another 2 minutes. Cover; proof in a warm spot for 1 to 1½ hours, or until doubled in size.
3. The dough is very, very (frustratingly) sticky, but power through because you will get the fluffiest sfinj. Prepare a small bowl of oil and dip in your hands to coat generously. Deflate and scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl, fold over from the bottom to shape into a loose ball. With your thumb and forefinger, pinch off a piece of dough and shape into a 3-inch ball (roughly 85 g); place on a greased tray. It will spread considerably. Repeat with remaining dough, dipping your hands in oil as needed. Pour granulated sugar into a shallow bowl.
4. Fill a medium pot with at least 1½ inches of oil. Heat over medium heat until oil reaches 350°F or bubbles appear when inserting a wooden utensil. Dip your hands in oil and hold a dough ball between your thumb and index finger. Punch through the center to create a hole, then rotate and stretch the dough to make a wide ring. Gently drop into the hot oil and watch it puff and turn golden, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray to cool slightly. Repeat the process with remaining dough, frying as many as comfortably fit in the pot. Dredge in sugar while still warm and/or drizzle with honey and serve with mint tea.
Sfinj is best eaten fresh. Adding an egg yolk will make the dough stay moist longer, for a day, maybe two. To freeze, cool completely, omit the sugar topping, and wrap each sfinj in a few layers of plastic wrap. Put into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature or warm in the oven until heated through.
Reproduced from Good Food by Sina Mizrahi with permission from the copyright holders ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications, LTD.
Good Food is a collection of (mostly) Middle Eastern recipes that are inspired by Sina Mizrahi’s cultural backgrounds and the places she has lived. You can find the cookbook on artscroll.com, Amazon, or your local Judaica store.