Sunday, April 14, 2024 -
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Crossover flavors: Cranberry Challah Doughnuts

It’s not quite Thanksgivukkah — that won’t happen again for over 77,000 years — but we’re close this year, with Chanukah beginning just as Thanksgiving weekend closes. It’s less about the mash-ups than it was in 2013, the first time the world marked Thanksgivukkah, but crossover flavors are always fun, and The Nosher has come up with a great one this year: Cranberry Challah Doughnuts, which we featured in our “Eat, Celebrate, Repeat” special section this week.

Cranberry Challah Donuts

Chaya Rappoport uses her favorite challah dough as a base, which if you have a bread machine will be a cinch to bring together. Her filling is tart, naturally, but made even tarter with a splash of orange juice and has a herbacious edge with the addition of sage. In fact, you could serve these alongside turkey instead of for dessert.

Happy frying!

Cranberry Challah Donuts


For the cranberry jam:

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • juice of one orange
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4-5 fresh sage leaves

For the dough:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest

For frying:

  • 6 cups vegetable oil, for frying


To make the cranberry jam:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, sea salt and sage leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries have broken down and the sauce has thickened and turned jammy. Remove from heat and discard the sage leaves. Set aside until ready to use. (This step can be prepared ahead.)

To make the dough:

  1. Heat the water until warm to the touch, around 110ºF. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the water, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and yeast. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the flour, kosher salt, nutmeg and orange zest. Mix until just combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed for about 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky — this is perfectly fine.

  2. Increase the speed to medium and add the butter to the mixture, one cube at a time. Once all the butter has been added, mix the dough on high speed for 7-10 minutes, until completely smooth and elastic. To test the dough’s readiness, try stretching a piece of it. It should stretch easily to a point where it becomes translucent but doesn’t rip.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours, or overnight.

To make the donuts:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust the paper well with flour. Tip the cold dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a 9 1/2 x 12 1 ⁄2-inch rectangle. It should be about 1/2-inch thick.

  2. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 12 dough rounds and set them on the prepared sheets. Lightly cover them with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to proof for about 1 1/2 hours. After proofing, the dough should look puffy and spring back slowly when pressed gently.
  3. When you’re ready to fry, line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Spoon the cranberry jam into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip.
  4. Add the oil to a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot. Heat the oil to between 350 and 365ºF. Carefully add 2 to 3 donuts to the oil and fry them until golden brown, around 2 to 3 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fried donuts from the fryer and transfer to paper towels.

To fill the donuts:

  1. Use a knife or a chopstick to poke a hole into one side of each doughnut. Be careful not to poke through to the other side. Insert the tip of the pastry bag into the hole and gently squeeze to fill.

  2. Top with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Yields 12 donuts.

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