Friday, December 2nd | 8 Kislev 5783

December 18, 2019 8:42 am

Kids in the Kitchen Light Up Hanukkah

avatar by Ethel G. Hofman /

Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, inaugurated the renewed Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv by lighting the fourth Hanukkah candle of the central Chabad menorah, together with Rabbi Joseph Gerlitzky. Dec. 5, 2018. Photo:

JNS.orgHanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is one of those holidays that takes over everything. The pantry overflows with bottles of oil and baking ingredients at the ready, kids decorate the house with dreidels and chocolate gelt coins, the menorahs get dusted off, and there are whispers of gift requests.

This year, the eight-day affair starts on the night of Sunday, December 22, and lasts through Monday, December 30 — later on the American calendar than usual, but always falling on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev.

For grandparents, parents, and kids, it’s the perfect opportunity to relax, talk, and learn. Spending quality time together is a life skill, as is spending time in the kitchen. And there’s more to it than just measuring and mixing — health, science, math, nutrition, and even family history are all involved.

Before beginning to handle food, make sure to wash hands and roll up your sleeves. Grandparents can tell the story of a particular dish or baked good handed down through generations. Then there are the questions: Why does a cake rise? How many quarts make a whole cup? Which ingredient goes in first? How long do you mix? Fine motor skills are practiced through kneading, mixing, whisking, and all the actions used in preparing something they love to make (and better yet, love to eat).

If you’re cooking with little ones, adult supervision is needed, especially with tasks related to the stove or oven. Other recipes are so easy that they can attempt to do it themselves. So what if the bread rolls for the “Menorah Candles” are squashed or the “Wacky Cake” mixture is plastered up the sides of the baking dish? The results are good enough to eat, and there’s always that satisfied thought of “I made it myself.”

To a sweet and Happy Hanukkah!

Swift ‘Sufganiyot’ (Dairy)

Makes 12

In Israel, sufganiyot or doughnuts, are always served at Hanukkah time — when even El Al Airlines check-in counters often have platters of these oil-based treats to sample.  

Cook’s Tips:

*Buy doughnut holes from market.

*Besides preserves, you may use peanut butter, cream cheese or grated cheese.

*Use cinnamon-sugar instead of confectioners’ sugar.


12 doughnut holes, plain or glazed

2 tablespoons preserves

Confectioners’ sugar (optional)


Cut each doughnut hole in half. With a teaspoon, scoop out a teaspoonful of crumbs from 6 halves.

Use the end of a wooden spoon to make a smooth hole.

Spoon about ½ teaspoon of preserves in each hole.

Top with the remaining halves, pressing lightly.

Roll in confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon-sugar.

To make cinnamon-sugar: In a small jar, measure 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Cover; shake well to mix.

Wacky Raisin Cake (Pareve/Vegetarian)

12 servings

This goes all the way back to the Depression, a time when dairy ingredients were expensive and scarce. You probably have all of these ingredients on hand in your pantry.

 Cook’s Tips:

*Any leftovers may be frozen.

*Instead of raisins, stir in fresh hard fruits, such as finely diced apples or pears.

*No white vinegar? Substitute lemon juice.

*Don’t worry if cake mixture is smeared on inside of pan. It’s wacky!


1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup raisins

1 cup water

Confectioners’ sugar to sprinkle (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Into an ungreased 8×8-inch cake pan, dump in flour, sugar, cocoa and baking soda. Stir to mix. Roughly spread out with a wooden spoon to cover the bottom of pan.

With wooden spoon, make three holes in flour mixture. Pour the oil into one hole, the vinegar into the second hole, and the vanilla and raisins into the third hole. Pour the water over all.

Stir to mix using a big fork, making sure no white streaks remain.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar (optional) and cutting into squares.

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