The Festival of Lights

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As a millennial Jew, it’s hard not to think of Hanukkah without imagining Ross Gellar dressed up as the holiday armadillo trying to teach his son Ben about his Jewish heritage and the Festival of Lights. It got me to wondering, how many people out there really think that Superman did fly all the Jews out of Egypt?

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Hanukkah is such an inclusive festival, a time of joy, fun and well just having a party for no good reason, or so you may think… It’s hard 2,500 years later to remember the real story of what happened to the Maccabees, the Jewish people and the burning of the oil. Should we just light the candles on the Menorah and not remember? Or is it essential in this ever progressive age to sit down and reflect on our ancestors? Whether you believe or not, it’s still a kick-ass story. It’s easy to get sucked into the seasonal spirit at this time of year and just think of it as a time of giving presents, rather than a spiritual holiday.

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In short, Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days, to remember how the oil in the temple burned for 7 days longer than it should have done (that’s right, they only had enough oil for 1 day – maths.) It’s traditional to give a gift on each night as it’s a time of giving and celebrating, much like our neighbour Christmas. We also burn the candles on the Menorah or Chanukiah to remind ourselves of the most important message of all; that we must always find the light in the darkness. Kind of poignant in the times we’re living in, don’t ya think?

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Every Jewish festival revolves around food; fact. There is a reason I was such a fat child… I knew that growing up at Hanukkah we’d have traditional foods like potato latkes, a huge roasted chicken or my favourite, doughnuts. However, when I was bringing myself to write this post I had to think back and ask myself ‘why is it that we eat these foods?’ After wracking my brain and a gazillion google searches, I came to well, the most logical and obvious of reasons: all these delicious foods are cooked in what? Oil.

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I mean, Hanukkah is another good excuse to eat all the snacks and foods that come part and parcel of being Jewish, but why should they only be enjoyed by the Jews? I can almost 100% guarantee you haven’t tried Bamba, and please know once you do, there’s no going back. Part of the build-up to Hanukkah for me as a child was getting excited days before, prepping all the games and foods ready, but most of all paying a visit to our local Jewish Deli ‘Hyman’s’ to collect our Menorah candles. Sadly, as mentioned in our previous post on Jewish Deli’s, Hyman’s is no more, but in its place is the glorious Lulu’s Kitchen.

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Owned and ran by the wonderful Lulu herself, this deli is the most modern and progressive of all that I have seen outside of Israel. They stock all the traditional foods that you’d hope for, but also some neat cupboard fillers that couldn’t go a-miss (Pip & Nut anyone?). Stocking everything you’d need this Hanukkah from chocolate gelt, to stationary and Kosher treats. If you’re South Manchester based there really is no need to go up North anymore to Prestwich or Whitefield, Lulu’s has everything you’d ever need. She even told me she’s stocking doughnuts this Hanukkah, you know, if you’re feeling lazy and can’t be bothered baking ours. Just don’t tell us, we wouldn’t want you bruising our egos…

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I hope I’ve inspired you this festive season, over here at G&T we’re inclusive of all holidays and festivals. If you know us by now, you know it’s an excuse for a good old knees up.

Hanukkah runs this year from the 12th-20th of December.

See you next Thursday,
G.

Mini Sugar-Coated Doughnuts

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
10 Tbsp (140g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (110g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
6 Tbsp granulated sugar (for the coating)

*Warning you will need an electric mixer and a mini doughnut pan tray for this recipe, but it’s worth the investment – trust me…

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Method

Preheat oven to 180°C. In a mixing bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg for 20 seconds, and then set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer whisk together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, then add in the vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until combined. Then add in half of the buttermilk and mix, repeat the process with flour and buttermilk once more. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold the batter together several times to ensure it’s all thoroughly mixed.

Pour the batter into a large piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe the mixture into greased mini doughnut pans, filling the pans about 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the doughnuts comes out clean, about 7-9 minutes, making sure you clean out your tray and re-greasing every time you do a new batch.

While the doughnuts are baking, get together the sugar for coating. While the doughnuts are still hot, roll them in sugar mixture (be sure to roll while hot, or the coating won’t stick). Once cool store in an airtight container at room temperature. They should be good for a few days, if they last that long.

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Hello! We are Ginseng & Thyme, two friends and work colleagues from Manchester with a passionate affinity for food, drink and lifestyle. Here’s our food story, what’s yours? Twitter: @ginsengandthyme Instagram: @ginsengandthyme

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