bread/brunch/recipes/sweets

Sfenj: Moroccan Snacking Doughnut Recipe

Posted April 15, 2018 by Stephanie

Sfenj: Moroccan Snacking Doughnut Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

So, Mike and I have been on a little Moroccan cooking theme lately. I’m not entirely sure how it came up but now I’ve been looking at flights to Morocco and thinking that it should definitely be on our travel bucket list. Morocco looks GORGEOUS. But, I’m a little ashamed to admit that maybe even more than the colorful cities and beautiful Mosques, I’ve been staring at the food. But, I’ve also been staring at photos of the Sahara, so there’s that.

Sfenj: Moroccan Snacking Doughnut Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

But, back to the food because the FOOD. These doughnuts were on a list of must eats when you visit and since we’re not going going anytime soon, I thought I’d try my hand. There were fun to make and so different than other doughnuts that I’ve made before. I mean, essentially, sfenj are a deep- fried yeasted dough but the texture of both the raw dough and the finished doughnut was so different from what I typically think a doughnut is.

Sfenj: Moroccan Snacking Doughnut Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

First off: the dough is extremely sticky with a high hydration. The dough comes together quickly, easily and much like most yeasted doughs. Yeast is activated with a bit of warm water and sugar, then stirred into flour with a bit of salt. I used my trusty Kitchen Aid to do the heavy kneading and then it was just a question of letting the dough rise for four hours. Yup, four hours. The long rise produces lots of air bubbles and a more complex flavor.

Sfenj: Moroccan Snacking Doughnut Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

After the rise, you lightly oil your hands squeeze off a plum sized piece of dough, shape it into a ball, then poke a hole in it, kind of how bagels are made. I don’t think you could cut out this dough even if you wanted to. The results of hand shaping are quirky and rustic. A quick deep fry with a bit of time for cooling and you’ll want to devour these babies right away. They’re golden and crispy on the ouside and chewy, hole-y, and fluffy on the insides. We forgot to snap a photo of the insides, but they had a beautiful crumb. They kind of reminded me a bit of the texture of mochi doughnuts but even more chewy.

I don’t know if I’m doing a good job describing these guys but I will say that they were SO GOOD. And dangerous because Mike and I ate entirely too many doughnuts. I liked mine with cinnamon-sugar (completely inauthentic) and Mike liked them plain with a bit of extra salt. He thought they were kind of like Chinese doughnuts, but not as crispy. They’re more of a snacking doughnut, not a sweet dessert doughnut and I’m kind of in love. Donuts all day everyday!

Sfenj: Moroccan Snacking Doughnut Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Sfenj Moroccan Doughnut Recipe
makes 8-10 doughnuts


  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water, divided
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cinnamon sugar for dusting, if desired

slightly adapted from The Spruce

Mix the yeast and sugar with 1/4 cup of warm water and let sit for 15 minutes. The yeast mixture should be nice and frothy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and the remaining 1 cup of water. Stir until everything comes together to form a shaggy ball and then use the dough hook to knead on medium-low, for about 10 minutes, until the dough reaches the windowpane stage – take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and stretch it out between your fingers and thumbs. If you can stretch it without the dough breaking and you can see through the stretched dough, you’re good to go. If the dough doesn’t windowpane, knead a bit longer.

Transfer to a large lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for 2-4 hours.

With generously oiled hands (this is key – you need oiled hands to work with this dough otherwise it is too sticky), portion off a small plum sized amount of dough. Shape each portion into a ball: bring the edges towards the center and tucking into balls. Place the balls on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

When the 30 minutes are up, heat up a deep sided pot of 1-2 inches of neutral oil (I prefer grapeseed) over medium high heat until it reaches 350°F.

I found that it was best to shape the doughnuts and fry them right away as opposed to assembly-line shaping them. Have the baking sheet of dough balls next to your stove. With lightly oiled hands, use your thumb to poke a hole into the center of a ball of dough. Use your fingers to expand the hole – you want it to be fairly large or it will disappear when you fry. Immediately drop the doughnut into the oil and cook until golden and brown, flipping once. Remove from the oil and drain on wire racks or paper towels. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.

Toss in cinnamon sugar while still hot, if desired. Otherwise, enjoy these guys hot as they don’t taste nearly as good when they’ve cooled to room temperature. I’d even say that it’s best to just fry them and eat them as needed. You can keep the dough in the fridge and just fry off one or two doughnuts as needed. You just need to let the dough have the 30 minute rest as balls. Enjoy!

3 Comments

  1. Tuulia says:

    They look so good!! They look kind of like Finnish doughnuts which also taste the best while still hot. Finnish ones aren’t crispy, which sounds so good, so i’m tempted to try these on May 1 (which is a national holiday here and a day to eat doughnuts (and sausages and potato salad) :P)

    Btw, I’ve been to Morocco and they have so much good food there! You should try at least all sorts of breads there, bean soup (usually sold on night markets), tagines and mandarines or tangerines if still on season. They taste so much better there. Mint tea is also to die for! I went to Marrakesh, Agadir and Essaouira about 10 years ago, and I liked Essaouira the most. I tried a cooking lesson there on some women’s institute (?) and it was so much fun to make a chicken-almond-cinnamon pastilla with a local lady.

  2. Anna says:

    These look delicious. I will attempt!
    I went to Morocco 2 yrs ago, it was amazing. Agadir & Marrakesh. Granted I met a friend that is from there, I stayed at an all inclusive hotel on the beach for a mere $1,500 with a flight from NY and thru travelocity. It was an AMAZING adventure.
    I would like to go again with a touring cooking group.
    I too love the mint tea, tagine dish made with lamb or chicken wirh preserved lemons!

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