Yesterdish’s Frittelle

Hi Friends, it’s Dori again. I’m back this week to share a family tradition of mine, that’s also probably a family tradition of yours: frittelle.

Never heard of frittelle? Well, what about Frappe? Raderkuchen? ChruĊ›ciki? Maybe angel wings? Or maybe you have another name for thin pieces of fried dough that are covered in powdered sugar?

One of my favorite things about frittelle (we’re going with “frittelle” because this is my post and I can do what I want) is that they seem completely universal. If you bring them to a party people are always delighted to find out that you share something they thought was unique to their childhood. But they aren’t unique — in fact, I’m pretty sure cavemen discovered fire and then immediately set out to figure out how to fry dough and cover it in sugar.

My grandmother made her first batch at 15 when she was preparing to be a wife the following year (that’s how they do in the old country).

Honestly, frittelle haven’t always been my favorite thing. Both my mother and my grandmother compulsively made frittelle around Christmas time. The idea was, my grandmother explained, to make enough at Christmas to last until Easter. (Yes, I’m Jewish, but my mother converted and we kept most of the food traditions.) [I had religion once. Tastes like chicken. — Adam.]

This totally killed the scarcity. What fun was there in a treat that that was everywhere? I didn’t learn to appreciate them until I was an adult and my mother made a batch with one small adjustment: orange extract.

It made them fresh and interesting, and it made me take another look at frittelle.

A word on the word frittelle

If we’re being technical (and when am I ever not technical), these are only one type of frittelle di carnevale, or carnival fritters, made during the masquerades before lent. There are lots of other types–some made with potato, some made with risotto, some filled, some coated in honey.

So why the generic name here?

Because lots of places in Italy celebrate carnevale, these particular pastries have lots of names. In Piedmont, they’re called bugie, meaning lies, because anyone who steals them will be discovered because of the telltale powdered sugar. In Tuscany, they’re called cenci, meaning rags.

But the names are spread everywhere. Among the other evocative names are chiacchere (chats, or gossips) and nastrini (ribbons), while invented names include Veneto’s galani and Emilia Romagna’s sfrappole.

Faced with this diversity of nomenclature, we aimed broadly. Let the search engines sort it out. — Adam

This was my first batch of frittelle. They are not as pretty as my mother’s or my grandmother’s frittelle–theirs are perfect and even and they use fun cutting things… But, whatever, mine are great! for my first attempt… and I’m way behind my mother and grandmother! My mother made her first batch at 16. My grandmother made her first batch at 15 when she was preparing to be a wife the following year (that’s how they do in the old country).

But my favorite story about frittelle comes from my mom. Not long after arriving in the US, my 13 year-old mother went to a carnival with her family. She didn’t speak any English yet, but somehow found her way to the elephant ears. She was delighted–they were different for sure, but they reminded her of home. And that was really comforting to a scared little girl.

One final note on the recipe–my mother’s other big innovation to the world of fried dough is the pasta maker. It makes the dough SO much easier to roll out. You can get one with a hand crank really cheap and it works just fine. It also works well for other doughs and fondant. [I hear you can even make pasta with them. — Adam.]

I hope you enjoy them!

Oh, and they may make an appearance at the kat&dori party this weekend. Are you coming?

From Yesterdish’s recipe box.

Yesterdish’s Frittelle

2 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter (room temperature)
6 egg yolks
6 Tbsp. sour cream
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. Sambuca, other liquor
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
(1 tsp. orange extract)

Oil for frying, powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients (except oil and powdered sugar) in mixer. Use dough hook — 15 minutes.

(The dough should be slightly sticky.)

Place dough in a well-oiled bag. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat oil for frying. 1/3 of the dough at a time, roll out into thin sheets using a pasta maker. Cut into various shapes.

Fry in batches. Frittelle should be light golden brown. Immediately dust with powdered sugar as frittelle come out of the oil.

Store in an airtight container, adding powdered sugar when needed.

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