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Xerotigana

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for xerotigana.

By Katina Rerakis
  • Serves 30
  • 45 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 10 mins cooking

"In Crete, these syrup-soaked pastries are traditionally given to guests after a wedding," says John Rerakis.

Ingredients

  • 125 ml vegetable oil (½ cup)
  • 80 ml raki (see note) (1/3 cup)
  • 80 ml lemon juice (1/3 cup)
  • 450 gm plain flour (3 cups)
  • For deep-frying: sunflower oil
  • 120 gm sesame seeds, coarsely crushed
  • 120 gm walnuts, coarsely crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
Spiced honey syrup
  • 440 gm white sugar (2 cups)
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 160 gm honey, preferably thyme honey
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Method

Main
  • 1
    Combine vegetable oil, raki, lemon juice and 375ml lukewarm water in a large bowl, add flour and mix well until a sticky dough forms. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knead well until dough no longer sticks to your hands (4-5 minutes), transfer to a plastic bag and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • 2
    Divide dough into 8. Working with one piece at a time, lightly flour dough, then feed through a pasta machine, starting at the widest setting and reducing settings notch by notch down to the fourth setting, flouring and folding as you go, to form a 60cm x 12cm sheet. Cut each sheet lengthways into 4cm-wide strips with a serrated pastry wheel and set aside in a single layer on a lightly floured tray.
  • 3
    Working with one pastry strip at a time, loosely loop around your index and middle fingers, then loop again around three fingers then once again around four fingers to form a loose spiral. Press end to seal and set aside.
  • 4
    Preheat sunflower oil in a deep saucepan to 180C. Place a pastry spiral on the handle of a wooden spoon, then carefully lower into oil (be careful as hot oil will spit). Cook, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp (1-2 minutes), drain on absorbent paper, repeat with remaining spirals and set aside to cool.
  • 5
    For spiced honey syrup, stir sugar, spices and 250ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the simmer and cook until infused (6-8 minutes). Remove from heat, stir in honey and lemon juice and keep warm.
  • 6
    Dry-roast sesame seeds in a frying pan until golden and combine with walnuts and cinnamon in a bowl. Dip pastry spirals one by one into hot syrup, remove with a slotted spoon to drain excess syrup, then dip in walnut mixture. Shake off excess, transfer to a tray and serve. Xerotigana will keep stored in an airtight container for a week.

Notes

Note Raki, sometimes called tsikoudia is a strong spirit distilled from grape pomace, it's available from select bottle shops.