How to Make the Best Sourdough Donuts.

Last updated on March 21st, 2024 at 11:50 pm

Traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, these round sourdough donuts, also called Sufganiyot, are typically filled with jelly and topped with powdered sugar. Crispy on the outside, and light and fluffy on the inside, our sourdough version does not disappoint!

Sourdough Donuts on a plate.

PLEASE READ BEFORE STARTING: These sourdough donuts take time to make so make sure to read through the full recipe first, but trust me they are well worth the wait. I have added the times that I use but of course, you can adjust to fit your schedule accordingly.

Sourdough Donut Specs

Yield 20 X 70-gram donuts
Total dough weight1400 grams
Pre-Fermented Flour13.5%
Levain % in Final Dough28%
Note: This recipe can be scaled up or down but it is difficult to mix a small amount of enriched dough in a standard kitchen aid mixer.

Total Formula

WeightIngredientBakers %
544 gramsBread flour80%
136 grams All-purpose flour20%
26 gramsLevain3.78%
44 gramsWater6.48%
68 gramsWhite Sugar10%
34 gramsBrown Sugar5%
191 gramsWhole Milk28%
191 gramsEgg (about 4 medium eggs)28%
150 gramsButter22%
14 gramsSalt2%
3 gramsVanilla.5%
Oil for Frying
Total Formula 1.400 kg.

If you’d like to scale this recipe, I recommend only going up, as smaller amounts are challenging to mix. For an easy way to scale you can download my sourdough sufganiyot excel dough calculator.

Sourdough Doughnuts

Sourdough Donut Dough Schedule

To help simplify the process I have created some sourdough schedules. These schedules are meant to be used as guidelines. Keep in mind that temperatures and starter health are just a few of many factors that can change your dough times.

Sourdough Sufganiyot Dough Schedule

Mix the Stiff Osmotolerant Starter 11:00PM Day 1

For this dough, we will use a stiff osmotolerant starter. Sugar is hygroscopic and will actually begin to pull water from the dough and impede fermentation if we add too much in the beginning. A stiff starter will give us the strength to leaven our donuts. We also want to introduce sugar now combined with a longer ferment to help “train” the starter. While some bakers choose to keep a sweet starter, I have found it to be too much work and waste to keep an extra starter around and typically just use my normal 100% hydration starter for this dough. If you don’t already have a starter you can check out my guide on how to create a sourdough starter.

WeightIngredientBakers %
92 gramsBread Flour100%
9 gramsSugar10%
44 grams Water at 24°C/75°F48%
26 gramsLevain24%
Total Yield 186%, 171 grams.

Combine the water and the levain together. Mix them together until the levain is mostly dissolved. Next, add the sugar and stir to combine. Finally, add the flour and mix until there are no dry bits. Knead the dough in a stand mixer or by hand on the table. Keep in mind that this is a stiff starter and you should resist the urge to add more water. You want this to be more like a dough than the typical sourdough starter batter. Place the starter into a sealed container, jar or bowl and let it rise for 8-10 hours.

I like to do this right before bed so that I can mix the dough in the morning. I leave the dough on the counter in my house which is an ambient temperature of about 22°C/71.5°F. If your ambient is warmer you will want to use colder water to mix your starter.

Mix the Sourdough Donuts – 9:00am Day 2

452 gramsBread flour
136 grams All purpose flour
59 gramsWhite sugar
171 gramsLevain (all of the above)
191 gramsWhole milk (room temp)
191 gramsWhole eggs (about 4, room temp)
150 gramsButter (cold but pliable)
34 gramsBrown Sugar
14 gramsSalt
3 gramsVanilla
Final dough temperature 27-28°C.
This is about 4 medium eggs. If you are a little over or under the weight don’t worry about it.

Start by placing the butter between two pieces of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, pound the butter so that it is cold but pliable (press a finger into it to check the consistency). The pliable butter will incorporate faster/better into the dough than if we used chunks or room-temperature butter. At the same time place the eggs into a bowl filled with warm water. This will take the chill off the eggs so that our final dough temperature is not too cold.

I mix my sourdough sufganiyot on a spiral mixer. If you are using a planetary (standard home mixer) mixer you can use the paddle attachment. It is difficult to develop the gluten in this type of mixer and the paddle can help save you time from constantly scraping down the sides of the bowl. At the end of the mixing process, the dough should be smooth, and silky and pass the windowpane test. To check for a window pane slightly wet your hands, grab a plum-sized piece of dough and stretch it until you can see through it. If the dough does tear you should see a clean line in the tear rather than a jagged line.

sourdough donut dough

Add the sweet levain, egg, sugars, milk and vanilla to the mixer. Add the flour and salt on top and mix on first speed for 5 minutes. If the dough is very dry you can add a bit more milk but be careful not to overhydrate the dough as it should be slightly stiff and will loosen more with the addition of the butter. Turn the mixer to second speed and mix for another 5 minutes.

Once the dough is fully combined and there are no dry spots, turn the mixer off, cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

After resting, turn the mixer back on to 2nd speed and mix for 2-3 minutes. Begin adding the butter in chunks. You don’t need to wait for it to be fully incorporated, however, you do want to watch the mixer and make sure you scrape down the sides periodically during mixing. The entire process should take about 7-8 minutes. You can check the dough temperature and make sure it is not getting too warm as the warm dough will split the butter.

Check the dough to make sure it windowpanes. If not you can mix a bit longer but be careful not to over-mix the dough after adding the final addition of butter. remove the dough to the table, round into a ball and place into a lightly oiled dough tub.

Note: The final dough temperature 27-28°C is important so if the dough is too cold place it somewhere warm.

Bulk Fermentation 9:30am – 10:00pm Day 2

Because this dough is naturally leavened and contains sugar and fat it takes a long time to rise. It is important to keep your final dough temperature warm at 26°C/80°F so that the wild yeast in your sourdough sufganiyot can get to work right away. As mentioned above you can play around with the schedule but this formula has been built so that the final product is fried in the morning.

Let the dough ferment in a warm place for 4 hours. I use a Brod & Taylor proofing box but you could use your oven with the light on and some warm water in a pot. Give the dough one stretch and fold halfway through this stage of the bulk fermentation.

After 4 hours place the dough into the fridge around 1:00pm. I leave the dough in the fridge to chill for 7-8 hours before removing it from the fridge. Around 9:00pm take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temp for about 1 hour.

Divide and Shape – 10:00pm Day 2

Take the dough out of the dough container and place it onto an un-floured work surface. At this point we don’t want any flour as you need the dough to stretch and develop tension on the work bench.

Divide the dough into 70g pieces. It is always best to divide the dough in 1 X 70 gram piece, but if you have two, place the smaller piece on the top middle of the larger piece see picture below. I find the easiest way to cut them accurately is to cut the dough into strips then going down the dough cut it into smaller pieces. You can see the process in the gallery below. Make sure to cover the dough so they do not dry and form a skin.

There is no need to pre-shape this dough so proceed immediately with your final shape. First, flatten the dough on the table and bring all the corners in to form a ball. Next round the dough on the table keeping the seam side down, working to develop tension as you round the dough. Finally, pick the dough up and pinch the bottom seam shut. If you have a large seam now this will be amplified even further after baking.

I like to place the dough onto small squares of parchment for proofing. The dough will be light and airy after proofing and the parchment makes it easy to pick up and fry without damaging the delicately soft sourdough donut.

Proofing – 10:30pm – 8:30am the next morning (Day 3).

Allow the dough to proof covered on the counter at room temperature for 10-12 hours. The first few times I made these I woke up in the middle of the night scared and ran to my kitchen to check the dough. My house is usually around 22°C/72°F so if your environment is warmer you may consider a shorter final rise OR placing them somewhere cooler in your home. Depending on how many I am making I use a large commercial pizza camber or a sheet pan.

sourdough sufganiyot proofing
These sourdough donuts are not quite ready to be fried and will require additional proofing.

As mentioned my house is typically on the cooler side so sometimes especially in winter, my sourdough donuts require a little extra proofing time. You will know they are ready to fry when they have doubled in size and are very light to the touch.

Note: Cold dough will lower the frying temperature so monitor closely.

Final proof (if needed) – 8:30am – 10:00am Day 3

For the final proof, I place the sourdough sufganiyot uncovered in the oven with a pot of hot water in the bottom. The evaporating water will bring the temp up and create a moist humid environment perfect for proofing your dough. You can see in the picture below I use a hygrometer to monitor the temp and humidity in my oven. Ideally, you want a temp around 30°C/86°F with a humidity of 75-80%. If your proofer is too hot the butter can start to split out of the dough and make the end product dense and greasy.

sourdough donuts proofing in the oven.
Final Proof Part 2.

Frying 10:00am – 11:30am Day 3

Place a large Dutch oven with vegetable or canola oil on the stove and slowly bring the temperature to 180°C-188°C / 360°F-370°F. It is important to bring the temperature up slowly so do not rush this step. Using an infrared thermometer check the the temperature of your oil before and during the frying process. If your oil gets too hot, the sourdough donuts will cook too fast on the outside and not enough in the middle. If it is too cold it will soak up the oil and be greasy.

Using the parchment pick up a sourdough donut and lower it into the oil. At this point, you do not want to crowd the pan OR touch them. If you touch them they will flip over in the oil and will puff into a ball rather than fry oval. They take about 2-3 minutes per side but do keep an eye on them as the temperature will fluctuate during frying and they can cook a bit faster or slower depending on your oil temperature. We like to flip with a slotted spoon and we try to only flip them once.

Once golden brown on both sides remove the sourdough donut from the fryer and place them onto a cooling rack to drain any excess oil.

Types of Fillings

sourdough sufganiyot

While the standard filling is jam, we like to fill the sourdough donuts/sufganiyot with Nutella, vanilla custard, strawberry jam or cream and dulce de leche. We use the vanilla custard from Michael James book The Tivoli Road Baker and we also like to mix the base with Nutella and dulce de leche before filling the doughnuts. For the strawberry cream, whip together 35% cream, until you get a whipped cream consistency (this will take a few minutes, you should be able to turn the bowl upside down and the cream will stay put). Fold in your favourite strawberry jam or puree to taste. For the dulce de leche, place one can of condensed milk into a pot and cover it with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and let it boil for 3 hours. Remember to keep an eye on the water level and add water often as the water will evaporate and if unwatched can reduce below the top of the can or worse scorch and burn!

Filling Your Sourdough Donuts

  1. Take a small knife and poke a hole into the side of the donut. Make sure the whole goes about 3/4 of the way through the doughnut, turning the knife as you go to make sure it’s big enough to hold the filling.
  2. Using a piping bag, or a sealable plastic bag if you do not have one, slowly fill the hole in the donut until the filling starts to squish out a little. You’re done!

Sourdough Donuts Final Thoughts

While sourdough sufganiyot are something that we always make in December for Hanukkah, these naturally leavened doughnuts are amazing any time of year and have become a family favourite. Whether filled or tossed in cinnamon sugar they do not disappoint when done correctly.

If you liked this recipe write up please consider downloading my sourdough sufganiyot dough calculator.

Finally, if you enjoy the level of detail in this formula you should check out my 100% whole wheat sourdough recipe!

11 thoughts on “How to Make the Best Sourdough Donuts.”

  • For the divide and shape part, if I’m not going to be able to fry in the morning, but have otherwise kept to the schedule in the recipe, can I leave the shaped dough in the fridge until about 5pm on day 3 and then take it out for an hour or so to come up to room temperature before frying?

  • Just finished making them… perfection! Thank you so much for this recipe! It takes time, patience, but pays off when you take the first bite.

  • Hey there!
    I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using
    for this
    website? I’m getting fed up
    of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m
    looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be
    awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    • Hey Candy,
      I have not tried baking them yet but I think they would still be pretty good. If you try it please let me know how they turn out!

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