Sicily has one of the finest pastry-making traditions in Europe. Religion and food often intertwine in Italy, but never more so than here. These more-ish bite-sized doughnuts, a specialty of Palermo, were traditionally served on the festival of St Joseph in March. These days, however, sfinci are served year-round. They're made with a choux-like pastry, deep-fried and tossed in sugar. We've filled ours with lightly sweetened ricotta.
- 60 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- 185 gm plain flour (1¼ cups)
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- For deep-frying: vegetable oil
- 220 gm white sugar (1 cup)
- Finely grated rind of 1 orange
- 300 gm firm ricotta
- 30 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
- Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 20 gm glacé orange, finely diced
- 1Bring butter, a pinch of salt and 250ml water to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat, stir in flour until mixture forms a ball, then beat continuously over medium heat for 1 minute. Transfer to an electric mixer, stand until cooled to room temperature, then beat in eggs one at a time, beating well until egg is incorporated before adding the next egg. Cover closely with plastic wrap and set aside.
- 2For ricotta filling, process ingredients (except glacé orange) in a food processor until smooth, stir in glacé orange, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 7mm plain nozzle and refrigerate until required.
- 3Heat oil in a deep saucepan to 180C. Combine sugar and orange rind in a bowl and set aside. Spoon rough tablespoons of choux pastry into hot oil in batches and turn occasionally until golden and cooked through (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Pipe a little ricotta mixture into each, using tip of piping tube to pierce pastry. Toss in sugar mixture, shake off excess and serve hot.
This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of .