#19 / CARNIVAL FRITTERS (ALL YEAR ROUND!)
From Lombardy to Sicily and from Le Marche to Sardinia, it’s not Carnival in Italy without fritters!
They change name, shape and filling from one region to the next... yes or no to raisins, orange-scented or with lemon zest...
Whether they’re called frittole or castagnole, zeppole or tortelli, and whether they’re a long spiral or short and round, filled with cream or hollow, one thing is imperative: they’re fried and sprinkled with sugar crystals.
An explosion of tastiness that crunches between your teeth for an instant hit of happiness: eating a fritter is like being a kid again – for me, at least.
Yes, I know, frying definitely isn’t in vogue right now, and it’s not a healthy cooking method... Actually, in the past it was a strategy to use up lard supplies before spring (and warmer weather) arrived.
Don’t worry! There’s no lard in our version, which is super easy: just a few ingredients (and lots of oil) are all it takes to turn any day into Pancake Day, Italian style! I mean: why only make them for Carnival?
Come on, let’s all be kids again for a while!
MY CARNIVAL FRITTERS
[preparation time: half an hour + 90 minutes for the dough to rise]
Ingredients [serves 4]
- 200 g flour
- 125 ml water at room temperature
- 125 ml milk
- 50 g sugar for the dough + to taste for sprinkling on top
- 1 egg
- Peanut oil (plenty!)
- Lemon zest
- 6 g fresh brewer’s yeast (if dry: 3 g)
- 100 g raisins (optional)
- Cinnamon (optional)
- A small saucepan to heat the milk
- A large bowl
- A tea towel (or cloth napkin)
- A high-sided saucepan
- A wooden ladle (or hand whisk)
- A slotted spoon
- Paper towels
To begin with, a crucial tip: these fritters are very easy and delicious, but only if they are served hot and enjoyed freshly fried. Don’t forget that!
Let’s get started: warm the milk just enough to dissolve the crumbled yeast in it, followed by the sugar. Or, if you’re using dry yeast, you’ll add it to the flour (without soaking it first) in the next step. But back to us: mix well and leave the milk and fresh yeast mixture to rest for a few minutes.
In the meantime, pour the flour into a very large bowl and gradually blend in the lemon zest and the egg, stirring and mixing well.
Add the water, then the milk mixture (now at room temperature). Mix everything together with a wooden spoon or a hand whisk. This is the only challenging part of the recipe: the mixture must not be lumpy, so add in the liquids a bit at a time, and don’t rush.
Only once the mixture is smooth and fully blended can you add the raisins, which should be soaked in advance and then thoroughly dried. If you don’t like raisins, you can of course skip this step.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rest at room temperature for an hour and a half, or until small bubbles develop on the surface. Whether fresh or dry, the yeast has done its job: we’re ready to fry!
A little trick that you may already know: the best fried food is made with plenty of oil, because the more oil there is, the less greasy the end product will be. It seems like a contradiction, but it’s the truth: the mysteries of cooking! So, choose a high-sided saucepan, not a frying pan.
Pour in the oil and heat it up: when a few small bubbles start to appear, it has reached the right temperature. Place a few individual spoonsful of dough into the oil, ensuring that they don’t stick together. You will see that they congeal quickly, taking on the shape of fritters: let them sizzle on all sides with the help of a slotted spoon or other perforated utensil. When they’re golden-brown, your fritters are ready.
Drain them one by one by placing them on a plate covered in paper towels, which you can replace when they get too greasy. The perfect fritter needs to be dry, without a drop of excess oil.
While they’re still piping hot, dip them in granulated sugar as if you’re breading them. If you like the aroma, you can also sprinkle ground cinnamon on them.
Warm, fragrant, delicious: your fritters are ready, just like at Carnival time!
Buon appetito! 💗