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Visions of sugar-encrusted doughnuts dance in this pastry chef’s head

In honor of Hanukkah, Keren Kadosh devises 50 different sufganiyot for the eight-day holiday

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

The Kadosh Cronut, a croissant doughnut created in New York and perfected for Hanukkah in Jerusalem, filled with nougat cream and topped with a gold-dusted pecan (Courtesy Antony Michaello)
The Kadosh Cronut, a croissant doughnut created in New York and perfected for Hanukkah in Jerusalem, filled with nougat cream and topped with a gold-dusted pecan (Courtesy Antony Michaello)

Keren Kadosh dreams about Hanukkah all year long. The co-pastry chef at Kadosh, the esteemed Jerusalem bakery and cafe founded by her father-in-law, which she now runs with her husband, Itzik Kadosh, dreams at night about the taste sensations she wants to bring to her dough — infused with alcohol to help push away the oil and yeasty flavor so often found in this holiday favorite.

“Every day I make 15 or 16 flavors, and a total of 50 over the course of the holiday,” said Kadosh. “I have terrible ADHD, and I forget what I’m planning to make, so my bakers write down whatever I talk about, and then we end up with pineapple cream with coconut or raspberry with lychee.”

On this Sunday morning, two weeks before the holiday of oily treats, Kadosh ordered a selection of the day’s best, including said doughnut filled with pineapple cream and topped with a cube of pineapple pectin, a raspberry crofin crowned with a circle of pink meringue flaked with candied raspberry and one dehydrated raspberry for good measure. Then there’s the cronut, the croissant doughnut that is filled with nougat cream, and topped with a gold dusted pecan.

A Kadosh pistachio cream sufganiya, one of 50 flavors being made over the course of the eight-day holiday (Courtesy Kadosh)
A Kadosh pistachio cream sufganiya, one of 50 flavors being made over the course of the eight-day holiday (Courtesy Kadosh)

“I don’t know which flavors are coming out each day, it’s really whatever we feel like,” said Kadosh.

The creams and doughnuts are light, but rich in flavor, lingering on the palate long after each delicate bite is taken. It’s a treat that needs to be eaten alongside a cup of perfectly brewed coffee, the unsual palate cleanser of this particular meal.

“I think we were the first to bring the cronut to Israel,” said Kadosh, who said they spent hours over the course of a month and a half, learning how to make the cronut after a customer brought her one from New York, learning how to duplicate the process, and then improve upon it. Later on, she invented the crofin, a combination croissant and muffin, often filled with cream of cassis, a rosy pink concoction.

For Kadosh, fortunately, there is never such a thing as too much doughnuts. Over the course of the eight-day holiday, they will make 400 doughnuts a day. The process of figuring out flavors begins immediately after Simchat Torah, when Kadosh begins tasting and building concepts for the doughnuts.

Keren Kadosh, the self-made pastry chef who runs the beloved Jerusalem bakery with her husband, Itzik Kadosh, whose father opened the original storefront (Courtesy Keren Kadosh)
Keren Kadosh, the self-made pastry chef who runs the beloved Jerusalem bakery with her husband, Itzik Kadosh, whose father opened the original storefront (Courtesy Keren Kadosh)

“I really love sfinge,” she said, referring to the Moroccan doughnut (similar to the Italian zeppole) that is a simple dollup of fried dough rolled in powdered sugar. “I would eat one in the morning, sort of without thinking, and I started thinking that I should bring it downstairs,” to the cozy dining area of Kadosh.

What Kadosh loves about sfinge, and doesn’t like about the average doughnut, is its simplicity. Crisp, fried dough, the crunch of sugar, the creamy filling that should ooze throughout, but not overflow and make a mess.

“I hate the stuff on top of the doughnut, when they try to make it into a cupcake,” she said, not naming names, but referring to certain Israeli bakeries that are big on toppings and syringes full of cream. “Cupcakes are one of the things I hate most. But yeast and fried dough, I love.”

In fact, she starts most days with three or four doughnuts. For real.

Making doughnuts at Kadosh is a long process, with the dough set to rise overnight in order to avoid a strong taste of yeast, and less of an oily, fat flavor in the dough, thanks to the liquors that help push the oil away. Each doughnut is given its own crown, whether it’s gold-dusted pecans, candied jellies, dehydrated fruits or fruit marshmallows. Those touches are Keren’s speciality, answering her love of making candy, but without the space to fully indulge in that art.

Itzik Kadosh opens each morning at 4:30 a.m., starting all the doughs for the morning pastries, and opening downstairs at 7 a.m., when the regulars come in for croissants and coffee at the bakery, which is located just a short walk from Mamilla and the Old City.

In the upstairs kitchen at Kadosh, where trays of pistachio meringues make their way in and out of the oven (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
In the upstairs kitchen at Kadosh, where trays of pistachio meringues make their way in and out of the oven (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

“We’re very different from other places,” said Kadosh, which has 12 staff members and stays open until 11:30 every night, for the latecomers who want to eat her handmade pasta, but may not get to taste any pastries, as they may have been eaten up by then.

The couple came to their life’s work by way of family — it was Itzik’s father, an eighth-generation Jerusalemite raised in the Old City, who first opened Kadosh in 1967 as a bakery specializing in central European pastries, even though he himself knew very little about cream puffs. When Keren and Itzik took over about 14 years ago, they hadn’t had a chance to learn everything from Itzik’s ailing father, and were left with dozens of recipes that said little more than “800 eggs” and “800 kilos of flour.”

The nougat-filled interior of the Kadosh cronut, inspired by the New York pastry invention (Courtesy Anatoly Michaello)
The nougat-filled interior of the Kadosh cronut, inspired by the New York pastry invention (Courtesy Anatoly Michaello)

“It was a puzzle,” said Keren Kadosh, but they broached it together and slowly learned the ropes, liking the challenges that the work brought them. They eventually took workshops in Europe, and spent hours deciphering the original recipes and figuring out their own specialities.

“I don’t write anything down,” said Keren Kadosh, “but Itzik is very orderly. I bake the way I cook, a little of this, and a little of that.”

When a fabric store closed next door, they expanded Kadosh, and found that their customers — a dedicated bunch, for the most part — drove their menu, whether with demands for Keren’s handmade pasta or butter-rich pastries.

“We didn’t expect how crazy it would get,” she said, looking around the space, which is packed, as always. “It’s always full, and we don’t decide what happens here, the customers do it.”

Holding a Kadosh crofin, modeled after the cronut, in front of the bakery's Shlomzion HaMalka entrance (Courtesy Kadosh)
Holding a Kadosh crofin, modeled after the cronut, in front of the bakery’s Shlomzion HaMalka entrance (Courtesy Kadosh)

They enjoy what they do, and can’t imagine opening another branch, given the kind of dedication and hours necessary to complete their workday. With four sons, age 13 and down, the menu at home is usually meat, said Keren Kadosh, although Shabbat morning breakfast always includes crunchy nut and cinnamon babkas, cream puffs, a fruit tart and some kind of chocolate cake.

“We can’t live without our cake,” she said.

For now, the Kadoshes are pleased with their process of pursuing perfection, as Kadosh said, “I’d rather that it’s the best it can be.”

And for those come to buy their sufganiyot on Hanukkah, said Keren, they should come and buy a bunch “and take bites. Because there will be so many to choose from.”

Kadosh sufganiyot range in price from NIS 7 for jelly and NIS 8 for caramel-filled doughnuts to NIS 16 for the crofin and other speciality doughnuts. Kadosh, 6 Shlomzion Hamalka Street, Jerusalem, open 7 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

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