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Ponchiki (Russian doughnut holes)

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  • 250 g (1 cup plus 1 tbsp) farmer’s cheese
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Powdered sugar, to serve


  1. Combine cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla and zest in a mixing bowl. Then squirt lemon juice into baking soda, let it fizzle for a few seconds, and add to mixture. Stir until fully combined.
  2. Stir in 1 cup flour – don’t overmix. The mixture should be slightly sticky and soft; if at this point the mixture is too thin, add another 1/4 c flour, or more if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
  3. Then pour oil into pot or saute pan – the oil should be about 3 inches deep. Place over high heat. Heat oil until it starts to gently ripple – about 10 min.
  4. While the oil heats up, form the ponchiki. Place about a third of the dough on a generously floured surface. Sprinkle top with more flour and form into a log. Cut the log into 3 or 4 pieces. Shape into golf ball-sized pieces (as you would with meatballs). If dough is too sticky, sprinkle some more flour on it.
  5. When oil is hot enough, turn heat down to low. Add 3 or 4 ponchiki into the oil at a time – they should sizzle and rise to the top immediately. Cook each batch for about 5 min, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking. The ponchiki will puff up as they cook. Using a slotted spoon or other straining utensil, remove ponchiki from hot oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining ponchiki.
  6. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm, alongside preserves or strawberry sauce.

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