Lemony Doughnut Holes


When I lost my mother’s famous doughnut recipe I knew things were not going to be happy in our household. She made those doughnuts every year and they were the most fabulous, light, un-greasy puffy pastries you ever ate. Which is why I took the  recipe from her collection one day when I was about 15 in order to make them on my own.

I guess I threw the recipe out when I was cleaning up because we never saw it again. I have no idea whether my doughnuts were good or not because the recipe thing took over that day (with reminders every year at Hanukkah time) and the fact that I was careless and so on and so on.

I tried mightily to find a new recipe, but never found “THE” one and, you know, memories of food have a life of their own. No recipe would ever measure up.

So, life went on. My mother never made doughnuts again but I did, always trying to reconstruct that perfect one. 

I haven’t made raised doughnuts in years though. Sometimes I make the cake kind, that doesn’t need yeast — I’ll post a recipe here for that.

But my favorite Hanukkah doughnut is a very easy recipe that is actually a variation on profiteroles (choux pastry). Only instead of baking the dough, I fry it. I also add lemon peel to give it a refreshing edge. They come out more like doughnut holes.

When you eat them still warm, the cinnamon-sugar clinging to the surface and almost melting into it, it’s a delicious reminder of of the fact that on Hanukkah, we are celebrating.

And while I wish I hadn’t lost my Mom’s raised doughnut recipe, these Lemony Doughnut Holes are sensational. 

Lemony Doughnut Holes

  • 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter cut into chunks
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, measure, then sift
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel
  • 4 large eggs
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • cinnamon sugar

Cook the water and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and salt all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is blended and comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat. Let it cool for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the lemon peel. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and blending ingredients throughly. The dough will be slightly sticky. Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep pan or fryer. When the oil reaches about 365 degrees (a small crumb of dough will sizzle immediately) drop small blobs of dough by the tablespoonful into the hot oil, leaving ample space between each. Cook the dough blobs, turning the pieces occasionally, for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until browned. Drain on paper towels. repeat with remaining dough until all is used. Roll the puffs in cinnamon sugar.

Makes about 60