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Quick Breads, Muffins and Cookies Help in Hanukkah Celebrations : Holidays: Baked goods including Soofganyot and cranberry muffins are favorites when families gather for the eight-day Jewish holiday.

December 21, 1989|JUDY ZEIDLER | Zeidler is a food writer and cookbook author

A delicious way for Jews to celebrate Hanukkah, which begins at sundown Friday and lasts for eight days, is to bake and share some favorite quick breads, muffins and cookies. Let children and grandchildren help in both the preparation and the wrapping of these delicacies.

Many of these recipes can be prepared in advance and some will freeze nicely. Homemade delicacies send a warm, loving message that commercial gifts just can't match.

Foods fried in oil are an important part of the Hanukkah tradition as they recall the small vial of oil that is said to have burned for eight days in a temple. I've included a recipe for Soofganyot, bite-size doughnuts filled with a favorite jam. Try adding a batch of them to a gift basket containing easy-to-make Cranberry Muffins, which have a tangy flavor and crisp crunch that other muffins lack.

Everybody loves fruitcake for the holidays, but big cakes dry out quickly. So I have developed some miniature loaves that contain chocolate chips and plenty of dried fruit. They will stay moist and may be frozen.

While you're in the mood for Hanukkah baking, you'll want to try fast and foolproof Banana Nut Loaves. Give them a holiday look with a spicy cinnamon topping, made crispy with plenty of nuts.

Hanukkah Star Cookies are prepared from a simple rollout dough, which can be made the night before, then cut and brushed with cream and topped with a sprinkling of coconut before baking. They will look pretty in a see-through clear plastic box lined with lacy paper doilies.

Kosher Candies always receive compliments. A confection of caramel, chocolate and pecans, they're very rich and make a nice gift for holiday parties. Children love to make these little turtle-shaped treats, so let them help.

Kosher Mincemeat contains no meat at all. Spoon it into a decorative jar, crock or even a big brandy snifter for a delicious and thoughtful gift. It's a great filling for pies and tarts and an unusual topping for ice cream or pancakes.

SOOFGANYOT (Bite-Size Hanukkah Doughnuts)

2 packages dry yeast

1 cup warm milk or water

Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted

3 egg yolks

Oil for deep frying

Strawberry, raspberry or apricot jam

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm milk mixed with dash sugar. Place 1/2 cup flour and salt in mixing bowl. Add yeast mixture. Mix gently until flour is incorporated. Cover bowl with towel and let stand in warm place 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Combine melted butter and egg yolks (adding 1 yolk at a time), blending after each addition. Add butter mixture to yeast mixture and blend well, about 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and remaining 1/2 cup warm milk, stirring constantly. Slowly add remaining flour, blending well. Beat about 5 minutes, or until dough comes away from bowl. Cover with towel and let rise in warm place 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Divide dough in 3 portions for easier handling.

Roll out each portion 1/2-inch thick. Cut each sheet into 2-inch rounds. Cut out 1/2-inch hole in center of each round or use small doughnut cutter. Heat oil to 375 degrees and fry doughnuts, few at time, turning once, until golden brown. Remove from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Roll in sugar and spoon jam into center. Makes about 5 dozen.

TINY CRANBERRY MUFFINS

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

2 eggs

1/4 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar and pecans in large bowl.

Blend eggs, oil and vanilla in another bowl. Pour into flour mixture and mix until moistened. Fold in cranberries.

Brush mini-muffin cups with oil and spoon in batter, about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees 20 to 25 minutes or until brown and wood pick inserted in center comes out dry. While still warm, loosen with sharp knife and transfer to racks to cool. Makes about 3 dozen.

MINI-FRUITCAKES

3 cups mixed dried fruit bits

1 cup chopped roasted pecans

1 cup semisweet mini-chocolate pieces

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1 (16-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drain and reserve juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup light molasses

1/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted

Grease 7 (5x2 1/2-inch) loaf pans and set aside. Combine dried fruit bits, pecans and chocolate pieces in medium bowl. Toss lightly then set aside.

Mix together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl. Stir in fruit mixture.

Beat eggs and egg whites, drained crushed pineapple, 1/4 cup pineapple juice, vanilla, molasses and butter in bowl. Mix well. Stir into fruit mixture.

Spoon into prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake at 325 degrees 45 to 55 minutes or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. Makes 7 small loaves.

HOLIDAY BANANA- NUT LOAVES

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