This year, the first night of Hanukkah lands just a few hours before Thanksgiving Day, and the first full day of Hanukkah will have to share the spotlight with a turkey.
This holiday convergence is a once-in-a-lifetime event of mythical proportions, at least for Jewish American households. This epic marriage of two favorite holidays has, by most accounts, never happened before and for all intents and purposes never will again.
Apparently Hanukkah did fall on the last Thursday in November in 1861, but that was before President Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863. So how did this rare lunar vs. solar event come to be? Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday of November and Hanukkah will always begin on the 25th of the Jewish lunar calendar month of Kislev. Since the lunar calendar does not match the Gregorian calendar— the most widely accepted and used civil calendar internationally— Hanukkah appears to be arriving very early in 2013.
The holiday has not landed this early since 1888. If the Jewish calendar is never modified, this cosmic holiday hybrid may happen again, but we’ll have to wait until Thursday, Nov. 28, in the year 79,811. How this miracle of timing will affect this year’s holiday shopping and rituals remains to be seen. Do we interrupt the football game to light the second candle? Good luck with that.
Since it is improbable that any of us will be around for the next occurrence of Hanukkagiving, we may want to focus on what really matters: food. The possibilities of this culinary marriage are boundless. Sweet potato latkes? Cranberry jam sufganiyot?
There are endless opportunities to bring together the fragrant fall flavors of Thanksgiving with the indulgent deep fried goodness of Hanukkah. If the Pilgrims had the Maccabees over for the holiday meal, what would they serve? If they had a deep fryer and a candy thermometer, that is.
Here is a recipe for one of the best things about Hanukkah, the everpopular sufganiyot, which are simply jelly-filled doughnuts. In honor of Hanukkahgiving, fill the doughnuts with luscious pumpkin buttercream filling or your favorite Thanksgiving-esque jam. Sufganiyot are best served by the glowing light of the (only slightly disturbing) Menurkey. (You can actually buy a turkey-shaped menorah at http://menurkey.com.)
Sufganiyot with pumpkin buttermilk filling
1½ pounds Brioche dough (recipe follows)
Vegetable oil for frying
Pumpkin buttercream filling (recipe follows), pumpkin butter or cranberry jam
Powdered sugar for dusting on top
Pumpkin Buttercream filling From Chow.com
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Instructions for filling
Place the butter, pumpkin, nutmeg and orange zest in a medium bowl and whisk until combined. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until completely smooth and combined. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip; set aside at room temperature.
From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
1½ cups lukewarm water
1½ tablespoons yeast
1½ tablespoons salt
½ cup honey
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
7½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
Instructions for brioche dough
1. Mix yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with water in a 5-quart lidded (not airtight) container.
2. Mix in flour without kneading, using a spoon, 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). You may need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you’re not using a machine. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled (don’t try to use it without chilling).
3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
4. Dough can be used as soon as its chilled after the initial rise. Refrigerate remainder and use over the next five days.
Instructions for Sufganiyot
Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thick and use a round cutter to create the circles (the size will depend on how big you want your doughnuts). Lay the cut out circles on a lightly floured baking sheet or wax paper. Cover loosely with plastic and let them rest for about 30 minutes.
Heat about 4 inches of oil in a large pot. You want to make sure there is plenty of room above the oil. Set up a candy thermometer on the rim.
Once the oil reaches 360° F you can fry the doughnuts. Depending on the size of the pot, you will want to fry two or three at a time. Make sure they have plenty of room to expand without crowding each other.
Cook for 1 1/2 minutes on one side and then flip. You may have to do this a couple of times until they are golden brown. Remove the doughnuts and allow them to cool on a plate covered in paper towel. Once the doughnuts are completely cool, poke the tip of a paring knife into one end to create a hole.
Fill pastry bag with pumpkin buttercream filing, pumpkin butter or cranberry jam. Cut a small hole in the pastry bag and fill the doughnut with about a tablespoon of the filling. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and serve warm or at room temperature