Italian fried sweet pastries are called different things depending on the part of Italy in which you are eating them, and may be presented in different shapes — bows, knots, little plaits or simple rectangles. Traditionally they are fried in lard, but perhaps sunflower oil is a better idea. Whatever medium you use to deep-fry, make sure it is fresh for any sweet deep-frying, or it will taint the pastries.
Eat these crostoli with espresso or a strong cup of coffee, and, depending on the time of day, a glass of grappa. This is rather a nice way to conclude a dinner.
In a mixing bowl, cream the softened butter with the sugar and egg. Add the lemon zest and vermouth, then mix in the flour and form a ball of dough.
Flour a work surface and roll the dough out as thinly as pasta (3 mm / ⅛ inch) or use a pasta machine. With a pasta cutter — one of those wheels with a fluted edge — cut it into 20 × 2-cm / 8 × ¾-inch strips. Tie into bows or knots.
Preheat oil for deep-frying to 190°C/375°F. Fry the crostoli in batches for 2–3 minutes each, until golden brown. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain, then dust with icing sugar.
Eat as soon as possible.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.