It’s my favorite time of year. It’s sufganiyot time.
Seriously, my family waits all year for this. Considering we are “bring apples to the park,” “eat your carrots before you can have dessert,” “cornflakes and WackyMac are not really food,” “no, you may not have chocolate spread in a sandwich because that’s vile,” non-Krembo family in general, the opportunity to eat the world’s best doughnuts for dinner (yes, we don’t feed the kids beforehand, this is not dessert, this is DINNER) is stupendous and worthy of excitement. All extra-curriculur activities are forgone, conference calls are cancelled, and phones are turned off. It is a holy, protected annual event.
Considering how impressive last year’s winner was, we were required to enter Mea Shearim again to procure Brooklyn Bakery’s finest. Now, this is a business that not only meets tremendous success without a website, it also compelled this jeans-wearing, treif-eating, hair-showing, secular sufganiyot consumer to enter the pious neighborhood for procurement purposes. If that’s not a glowing testimonial, I don’t know what is.
Since all is fair in love and war and sufganiyot, a friend of mine approached me this year and noted that it’s not “fair” that we don’t include Roladin in our yearly sufganiyot tour. Well, it’s not exactly fair of them to not to have a branch in the shuk! Although, to be “fair,” this particular friend is an organic-food-only, no-white-flour, vegan tree-hugger, so if SHE is recommending these sufganiyot, it might be a public disservice to ignore her. So, as one does when one requires assistance, I called my parents in as backup. They live in Nachlaot, so I dispatched them to the downtown Roladin branch and asked them to pick up an assortment, including Roladin’s famous “chasers” (yes, they look like tampons sticking out of the middle, go ahead and say it) and their newly famous Croladins, a takeoff on a cronut — a hybrid of a croissant and a doughnut.
After 3 hours and 30 sufganiyot from 5 vendors, nobody vomited. I consider that a win in itself. Here’s the skinny (and it’s the only skinny thing in this entire blog, since apparently calories also count when you’re standing up. Who knew?):
We started off with the two non-shuk varieties: Brooklyn Bakery and Roladin. We met my parents in a park behind the shuk, which we call “Park Shikkur,” since it’s where all the winos hang out. We were the only ones there not drinking our dinner, but is refined sugar topped with more refined sugar, stuffed with further refined sugar really any better?
First of all, Roladin should be ashamed of themselves. Sure, they’re the prettiest out there, and their chasers/tampons are adorable. It’s a cute little gimmick that allows you to squeeze in the filling right before you eat the sufganiyah, perhaps implying elevated levels of freshness? But line up Brooklyn Bakery with Roladin and it’s no contest. Roladin’s dough was dry. The dough-to-filling ratio was lacking. And their “Croladins” should be embarrassed when standing next to an Israeli favorite, the sphinge. It’s like they tried to give Smurfette a new hairstyle — why attempt to improve on perfection? When my 5 year old shakes his head and says “no, thank you” to a second bite, that’s a fail.
In the “fancy” category, Brooklyn Bakery is our hands-down winner for the second year in a row. Their custard filled goodness takes the cake. Their dough is light and airy, the dough-to-filling ratio is off the charts, and their sufganiyot are topped with American style frosting that can battle the Krispiest of Kremes. Coupled with their service with a smile, Brooklyn Bakery is worth the nightmarish parking and the whopping 8-10 NIS price tag. No question.
Shame on Marzipan, resting on their laurels. Their rugelach reputation won’t cover them this time. Marzipan apparently began filling its chocolate sufganiyot with cheap chocolate spread. It was so thick you could use it as a building material, and it tasted like it was manufactured in New Jersey, alongside the chemical plants. What piqued my curiosity about Marzipan is their unique method of filling sufganiyot this year. Instead of putting the filling in the middle, they are apparently slicing the little buggers in half like bagels or cream puffs, and spreading the filling on like cream cheese. Kudos for innovation (StartUp Nation!) but the quality disqualified them.
Well, now, this was a tough one. We debated it for quite some time because they offered, among the standards and some fancies, an unusual sufganiyah: blueberry jelly. I usually reserve blueberries for either pie or Sal, and therefore my initial reaction was, “Eew. No way.” But my insistent husband has a good eye for desserts, so when he included them in our English Cake selection, I didn’t argue. Boy, was I grateful. This blueberry jelly rivals no other jelly. Not overly sweet and rich with flavor, English Cake’s blueberry jelly sufganiyah is tied for this year’s winner in the traditional jelly category. And I didn’t even take a picture of it, since I was expecting nothing FROM it! Although I’m not vouching for the rest of the English Cake selections, their blueberry sufganiyah is something special and worth seeking out.
This guy is my standard pita and burekas dealer, so when I said, “I’ll take 2 jelly”, he smiled and responded “Who eats two sufganiyot? Here’s five.” #OnlyInIsrael He is also the purveyor of the best traditional sufganiyah dough in the city. It’s so light and so melt-in-your-mouth that no other rivals it. His downfall, however, is cheap iridescent jelly. It’s akin to uranium. That’s why we concluded that alongside English Cake’s blueberry jelly offering, Oogat Chen’s best dough in the city shares the spotlight in the jelly category.
Worth a mention, by the way, is the fact that my family almost insisted that this year’s Sufganiyot Winner be not a sufganiyah at all but rather a sabich. My husband, in his infinite wisdom, declared that sufganiyot on an empty stomach was not ideal for him, so between Brooklyn Bakery and English Cake, he stopped at a new sabich place. He took his first bite and his face just lit up. He downed it in about four seconds, leaving my 10 year old giving him the evil eye. She wanted some too.
Back he trotted for his second purchase. This time, she got a bite and I did, too. Clearly, however, a bite was not enough. She needed her own. Third trip to the sabich place. After we finished our collective 30 sufganiyot, I asked her if she was full, and she said, “Well, full of sufganiyot. But I might have room for a bit more of that sabich.” We all went back to the sabich place and walked in to a “You mean ANOTHER?” greeting. The fourth and final sabich of the evening was split evenly between us, and while watching this cutie pie prepare it, I discovered his secret: he layers.
First in goes the hard boiled egg (brown, not white). Then he adds a layer of fried eggplant (it’s still Hanukkah food, it’s FRIED), tops it with salad, tehini and amba, and then starts over again with all the layers twice more. This way, every single bite explodes with all the flavors. You don’t end up with one bite full of egg and another full of parsley. We debated whether a sabich can win a Sufganiya Tour and decided against it, but by a very small margin. Next time you’re in the shuk, give him a try — he’s on Agripas.
Now, RUN to Brooklyn Bakery to get this year’s winner!