“My cousin Rina is the expert at making these pastries, which are meant to be biscuity without being soggy. They can be fried then stored in an airtight container for up to four days before being dipped in honey and eaten. Traditionally they’re served stacked up in a big mound – make sure they’re completely cold before stacking them or they’ll stick together. Lard would traditionally have been used in the dough and also to fry the pastries, because that’s what was available, but butter or duck fat work just as well in the dough.”
- 125 gm “00” flour, plus extra for dusting
- 125 gm bread flour
- 10 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp melted duck fat, lard or butter
- For shallow-frying: vegetable oil
- 400 gm honey
- 1Sift both flours and a pinch of fine sea salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the machine running, pour in three-quarters of the egg yolk and mix until absorbed, then mix in the duck fat, lard or butter. If the mixture is still too dry to form a dough, start adding remaining yolk, a little at a time, to form a rough dough. You may not need it all; towards the end, it doesn’t take much extra liquid for the dough to become too soft. Tip the dough onto a clean, lightly floured work bench and knead with the heels of your hands until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
- 2Cut dough into two pieces and flatten one slightly, re-wrapping the other one in plastic wrap to prevent it drying out. Pass the flattened dough through a pasta machine on the widest setting, then fold in half and pass through the machine again. Repeat twice. Reduce the setting on the machine a notch and pass the dough through. Repeat twice more, reducing the setting each time; dust the dough lightly with flour if it starts to stick. Turn the setting on the pasta machine back to the widest one, fold dough sheet in thirds and pass through the machine again. Pass the dough through twice more, reducing the setting each time. Fold sheet in thirds again, rotate 90 degrees, turn the setting back to the widest and pass through the machine six times, reducing the setting each time. When the dough gets too long to handle, cut it in half and continue with each half separately. By now, the pastry should be about 2mm thick and fine enough that you can see your hand through it. Repeat with remaining dough.
- 3Lay a sheet of pastry on a lightly floured work bench and, using a wheel pastry cutter, cut into strips 1cm wide and at least 40cm long. Stand a strip on its side and fold the end to form a loop, squeezing the end to hold it in place; if the pastry won’t stick, wet your finger with water and dab it on the pastry. Fold the pastry back in the opposite direction to form another loop. Continue folding and squeezing. Place on a lightly floured tray. Repeat with remaining pastry.
- 4Meanwhile, pour a 2cm depth of vegetable oil into a frying pan and heat to 160C (if you don’t have a thermometer, test the temperature of the oil by dipping the handle of a wooden spoon into it – when bubbles form around the spoon, the oil is hot enough). Place several pastries in the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan; they’ll puff up almost immediately. Fry on one side until lightly golden (about 30 seconds), then turn using an egg lifter and a fork and fry the other side for another 30 seconds. Drain on paper towel and repeat with remaining pastries.
- 5When pastries are cool, line several trays with baking paper. Heat honey in a medium-sized saucepan until almost boiling, then reduce heat to its lowest setting. Carefully lower a pastry into the honey and, using an egg lifter and a fork, gently turn it over, then lift it out and place on a tray to cool. Repeat with remaining pastries and serve.
This recipe is from the September 2012 issue of . by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir is published by Lantern, $49.99, hbk. This extract has been reproduced with minor style changes.