In Morocco, I grew up with North African cake-like donuts called rosquitas and sfinj. However, at various times in history, Morocco was a Spanish colony and then a French colony, so our family traditions also included bimuelos and beignets de Hanukkah.
When I married Neil, his mother Becky introduced me to burmuelos, the Ladino name for Sephardic donuts. It’s a yeasty sticky dough. Big spoonfuls are plopped into hot oil and they puff up to the surface. Then they are soaked into a honey sugar syrup.
My children were lucky enough to delight in the traditions of both their grandmothers for many years. Now every Hanukkah, I carry on the frying traditions. I serve rosquitas, sfinj, burmuelos and they all get eaten up. There’s always a lively conversation about which ones came out best this time around. Everyone has their own favorite. These little treats bring so much joy to our family with every bite. It’s worth all the work.
It brings me the greatest pleasure to continue these family traditions. Knowing that these were recipes my mother, my grandmother and my great grandmother made brings me the most joy.
Yes, over the years we have learned to love good latkes. But for the better part of my life and my husband’s life it has been all about the burmuelos and rosquitas. It brings me the greatest pleasure to continue these family traditions. Knowing that these were recipes my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother made brings me the most joy.
Passing this down to my children and keeping these recipes alive is what it’s all about for me.
This is the first Hanukkah without my mother. I really wanted to teach my daughter Rebekah how to make rosquitas. So we spent Sunday afternoon making them. My mother must have been smiling down on us because they were probably the best rosquitas I’ve ever made.
For the dough-
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
Canola or vegetable oil
- Mix ½ cup of water with 1 teaspoon of instant yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- Let sit till it is foamy.
- Then mix with 3 cups of flour, 1 egg, 1 ½ cups of warm water and a pinch of salt.
- Mix with a wooden spoon to form a sticky wet dough.
- Cover with dish towel and let rise for 2 hours.
- Pour 1/2 inch of oil into a pan over medium heat until a pinch of dough immediately floats to the top.
- With a spoon or small ice cream scooper drop into hot oil.
- Dough will puff up and rise to the top quickly.
- If dough does not rise, it means the oil is not hot enough.
- Fry until golden, remove and place on wire rack, or paper towels to drain any excess oil.
For the syrup-
1 cup of sugar
3 TBS of honey
½ cup water
Bring to a boil, then pour over the Burmuelos. Serve hot.
Best day of and even better to serve right away.
Sharon Gomperts and Rachel Emquies Sheff have been friends since high school. The Sephardic Spice Girls project has grown from their collaboration on events for the Sephardic Educational Center in Jerusalem. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food. Website sephardicspicegirls.com/full-recipes