14 gm(about 2 sachets) dried yeast300 gm(2 cups) plain flour, sievedFor deep-frying:vegetable oil10black figs, quarteredHoney and thyme syrup360 gm(1 cup) Attiki or other Greek honey110 gm(½ cup) caster sugar1lemon, thinly peeled rind and juice only2 tbspthyme leaves, plus extra to serve
Combine yeast and 250ml warm water ina large bowl, stir to combine, then add 75gm flour, stir and set aside until foamy (5-7 minutes). Add remaining flour, 250ml warm water and a pinch of salt and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and elastic. Cover and set aside until doubled in size (1-1½ hours).
Meanwhile, for honey and thyme syrup, combine honey, sugar, rind, juice and 125ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir until sugar dissolves (3-5 minutes), then simmer until slightly reduced and syrupy (5-7 minutes). Remove from heat, cool slightly, add thyme leaves and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or deep-sided frying pan to 180C. Spoon tablespoons of batter into oil, or squeeze them through your hands (be careful as hot oil may spit), and turn occasionally until golden and cooked through (3-4 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper. Serve warm with figs, drizzled with syrup and scattered with extra thyme.
Note This recipe comes courtesy of Mary Loucas, mother of GT editor Anthea Loucas and is from the March 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
The simplest things in life are often the best. Clichéd? Of course, but also quite often true. Take these classic loukoumades, for example. Their name sounds pretty exotic, but when you break them down, they’re nothing more than little balls of fried dough. Now don’t get us wrong, we love little balls of fried dough (and so do many other people if their proliferation in many cultures is anything to go by – doughnuts, churros or beignets, anyone?). But there’s not much to them: flour, yeast and water, sometimes a pinch of sugar or a drizzle of oil or melted butter. Easy peasy.
Greek cooks give loukoumades their distinctive shape by squeezing the very soft dough through their hands into the hot oil and turning the dough while it cooks until it is puffed and golden. Be very careful doing this as the hot oil may spit and there has been the odd report of an exploding loukoumada. Drain them on absorbent paper, drizzle them with honey – single-blossom is good for added flavour and fragrance – and scatter them with ground cinnamon for the traditional version of this luscious dish. Don’t stand on ceremony, either, waiting for the whole batch to cook. These little golden beauties are best served as hot as you can handle.
We’ve glammed our loukoumades up with wedges of photogenic (and tasty) figs and fragrant thyme leaves, but at their heart they remain the essence of simplicity. Simple, perhaps, but we’re betting you won’t be able to stop at one (or even two).