True story. I was on the Food Network’s first-ever Ultimate Hanukkah Challenge back in 2019 and made it to the finals where we had to make Sufganiyot (pronounced “soof-gahn-yote” and is Hebrew for “donuts”). I had never made a donut before or even heard of a Sufganiyot (either I’m a bad Jew or this isn’t a big thing amongst Long Island Jewish families – or maybe just mine) but I knew I was in trouble because my strengths do not lie in making doughs of any type. The results were something out of “I Love Lucy” and I had to laugh at my “donut chips” since they didn’t rise when fried and became crispy like a chip (but still tasted yummy). If only I used a can of basic and cheap flaky layer biscuits, things would have turned out differently because not only are these shortcut donuts incredibly delicious, but they’re the easiest, quickest, cheapest and hassle-free donuts ever to make!
The Finishing Touches
The Taste Test
- 1 can Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layers, either honey butter or original flavor (NOTE: for proper donuts, it MUST be the Flaky Layers type and not regular biscuits. Also, I'd avoid the Buttermilk or Butter Tastin' varieties)
- Canola or vegetable oil (see Step 2 for amounts)
- 2 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream or milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Whipped cream in canister (vanilla or chocolate Reddi-Wip work well)
- Jelly, jam, or preserves of your choice
- Any compote of your choice (see Jeff's Tips)
- Take the biscuits out of the can and lay them on a flat surface (it can be lightly dusted with flour so the biscuits don't stick). Using a rolling pin (which can also be dusted with flour), roll and flatten each biscuit so it's about 1/4-inch thick and about double the circumference before they were flattened (they should still be circular). If you want a hole in your donut, take a standard shot glass, place the open end in the center of the flattened biscuit and press until fully pierced. Remove the holes and save to fry along with the donuts for donut holes!
- Fry In One Of Two Ways: In a deep fryer with the oil filled up to the max line OR in a dutch oven with the oil filled no more than halfway. Heat until the temperature is 375°.
- Once the oil's heated, carefully lay the flattened biscuits in the oil, minding your hands (you also can wear mitts if you wish or gently place the dough in the oil with metal tongs. NOTE: NEVER just drop or plop the dough into the hot oil as it could splatter!) After a quick moment, the dough will float and begin to puff up into a donut. Fry on each side for about 45-60 seconds (donut holes will take about 30-45 seconds total since they're much smaller). Times can slightly vary, so check on them with metal tongs and make sure they're a shade of golden brown before flipping. Remove the donuts to a paper towel-lined plate for 1 minute and then transfer to a wire rack resting over a sheet pan (suggested if glazing and also so the donuts don't get soggy. NOTE: You can actually forego the paper towel-lined plate completely if you want to just rest them on a wire rack after frying. I just think it helps sop up any excess grease)
- Finishing Touches: If you wish to make the glaze, whisk those ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Should you wish to use the sugar coating, mix those ingredients in a separate bowl. Spoon the glaze over the donuts (you don't have to flip them for both sides - one is enough) or simply dip them in the sugar mixture, coating on all sides. Should you wish to fill your donuts, stick the tip of a whipped cream canister or a piping bag with a wide tip filled with jelly, jam, preserves or compote into a whole donut (with no hole) and disperse enough to fill it up (see Jeff's Tips)! From there, you can coat the stuffed donut in sugar or glaze.
- Serving immediately is best. They have about a 1-2 hour freshness clock before they begin to get soggy.
To make a berry compote:
- 2 cups of fresh berries of your choice, divided (if using strawberries, quarter them)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Add half the berries and all the other ingredients to a sauce pan on medium-high heat. Simmer for 10 minutes and then add the remaining berries and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until thickened up and syrupy. Allow to cool. To pipe into donuts, either place in a piping bag with a very wide tip for easy squeezing (if it's too chunky, the bag could get clogged) and pipe into the donut. You can also hollow out some of the donut's inside and spoon the filling in.
For another shortcut, just use a canned pie filling or jarred jelly, jam, or preserves! Use the same piping bag method above to get it in there - making sure to use a wide-end tip for easy piping.