Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Italian Fried Doghnuts

The last time I posted, I wrote about once a month cooking. So I have a lovely freezer full of food and what happens? I run out of propane. I do not own a microwave and my stove and oven run off of gas. So last week I could only cook on an electric skillet.Oh Well. The propane company refilled the tank yesterday so I can finally make use of my well prepared freezer.

Last week was Holy Week, the last week of lent. Lent,the 40 days preceding Easter, is a time of a prayer,fasting,and almsgiving. Traditionally Christians "give something up" for lent. Our family gave up sweets.

Lent officially ends the Saturday before Easter at noon so armed with only an electric I had to think of a sweet treat to make to break our fast.

Fortunately, I remembered one of my favorite childhood treats that my Grandfather used to make during the Easter season, Italian fried doughnuts (Zeppole,or crispelle.)

My Grandparents always found a way to tell people how healthy their desserts were.  My grandmother would always tell us exactly what we were eating.  “There are fresh eggs, whole wheat, milk, butter, and no chemicals in here,” she would say in her musical New York/Italian voice. Grandpa’s cake (or whatever it was we were eating) made a wholesome breakfast according to grandma.

 These doughnuts may not have a heart healthy seal of approval from the FDA, however they are Grandma Grimaldi approved, easy to make, and perfect to break any fast or diet with. Italians traditionally serve them on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19, at Easter, and on picnics. They are usually served for dessert with coffee, but rarely for breakfast.

Italian Fried Doughnuts

6 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup sugar
3 eggs
¼ cup olive oil
Water about 2 ½ cups
1 quart of peanut (or other suitable oil) for deep frying
Powdered or cinnamon sugar for dusting

In the bowl of a mixer add flour, yeast, salt and sugar.
Scramble the eggs with the olive oil in a separate bowl.
With the dough hook attachment turn the mixer on low to incorporate the dry ingredients.

With the mixer running, add the egg/oil mixture and as much water as you need to make a cohesive dough. 
The dough should be sticky but hold together.

Knead the dough by machine for about 10 minutes. Scrape the mixing bowl a few times to ensure full incorporation of ingredients. 

Next, cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow it to rise in a warm location for about 2 hours.

When the dough has risen oil your hands with a little olive oil and sprinkle the counter with a bit of flour.

Knock down the dough. To form the doughnuts, pinch small pieces of dough and form into balls about half as big as you want your doughnuts to be.  Palm size is just about right but some people like them smaller.

Allow the doughnuts to rise for about half an hour more.

Meanwhile in a deep skillet, frying pan, or deep fryer add the frying oil. Heat the oil to about 400 degrees.

Being careful not to overcrowd them, place the doughnuts in the hot oil. Cook them for about 3 minutes per side until they are golden brown.

When they are cooked, drain them on brown paper for a few minutes.

Finally, sprinkle them with powdered sugar or roll them in cinnamon sugar. They’re also delicious with fresh jam.

These are best served piping hot. 

I hope you had a blessed Easter!