Every culture has it’s version of fried dough, and Morocco is no different. You’ll find sfenj on street corners throughout the country. The dough itself is simple, a basic yeast dough but it is super sticky, making it a bit of a trick to master. Sfenj is prepared early in the mornings for breakfast or late in the afternoons for tea time and you’ll be hard pressed to find it anywhere in between those times!
The dough for sfenj is unsweetened but they can be eaten a variety of ways. While some prefer them just as they are, others dust with a bit of sugar. Another popular combination? When the sfenj are put into the oil an egg is cracked in the middle and fried along with the dough. It’s a complete grease bomb but absolutely delicious and puts a typical egg sandwich to shame. If you want to make sfenj at home they’re not difficult but expect the first few to be a mess until you understand the technique.
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cup warm water
- vegetable oil, for frying
- sugar, for coating (optional)
In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
In a large bowl mix the flour and salt. Add the water and yeast mixture, and stir vigorously with your hand or a spoon until smooth. Remember the dough needs to be very sticky! You should not be able to knead or easily shape it.
Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, and leave the dough to rise for three to four hours, until double or triple in bulk.
In a wide rim pot heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil until hot.
Fill another bowl with water and set to the side. At this point you will have three bowls ready; one with your dough, one with water, and a third with sugar. Also cover a large plate with paper toweling or a towel to absorb excess oil.
Wet your hands and take a handful of dough from the bowl. Quickly punch a hole in the middle and stretch to make a ring. Set into the oil. The dough will cook very quickly and you will want this to be the case or else it will be come too saturated in oil. Flip with a wooden spoon when the bottom is golden brown and finish frying.
Remove from the oil as soon as the dough is golden brown on both sides and transfer to the plate with the towel. Roll in sugar right away. Continue with the remaining dough.
Sfenj should be eaten hot, immediately after cooking. They do not re-heat well. Enjoy!