Easy Doughnuts (Sfince)


A dangerous thing to say after dinner is: “Do you want doughnuts?”

It’s a dangerous thing to say, because almost certainly the other person will say “yes” and then what do you do? Especially since most doughnut recipes require time for the yeasted doughnut dough to rise?

Here’s what you do: crack open Mario Batali’s first book, Simple Italian Food, and follow his recipe for Sfince. First of all, sfince is a funny word. It makes me think of an Andy Milonokis character who puts a “snf” sound at the start of every word. Only 1 person reading this will get that reference. Second of all, you can assemble the dough in a matter of minutes and as soon as the oil gets hot enough, you’ll be frying.

Are sfince as good as normal doughnuts? No, definitely not. But you douse them in powdered sugar and honey, and suddenly they’re very tasty. According to Mario, “this dough is caled pate a choux and it is used for profiteroles and Paris-Brest.” Anyone who read the Sunday Times Magazine section saw a whole essay about pate a choux, so you can take this recipe, fry the doughnuts, and then use them for all the things mentioned in that article. Fill them with ice cream and you have profiteroles; fill them with pastry cream and you have cream puffs. But if you want doughnuts, just eat ’em plain and tell your guest: “Hey, it may not be a normal doughnut, but I ain’t got time to make yeasted doughnut dough, fool.” They’ll appreciate it!

Sfince with Honey

from Mario Batali’s “Simple Italian Food”


Vegetable Oil, for frying

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup water

pinch of salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs

1 cup honey, preferably chestnut

Confectioner’s Sugar, for dusting

In a 6-inch-deep saucepan, heat 3 to 4 inches of oil to 375 F.

In a 2- to 3-quart saucepan, melt the butter in the salted water and bring to a boil. Stir in the flour and cook until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl and allow to cool. When cool, beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Place the honey in a small saucepan and heat over low heat.

Using 2 tablespoons, form almond-size balls of dough and drop into the hot oil. Fry 3 to 4 at a time (don’t crowd the pan–they will double or triple in size) until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.


Remove and drain on paper towels. Continue until all the dough is fried.

Sprinkle sfince with confectioner’s sugar, drizzle with the warm honey, and serve.

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