Fried Pastry Ribbons

Kserotigana

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A specialty of Chania, Crete, this delicious sweet is traditionally prepared for weddings and engagements. It is quite easy to make, but it’s time consuming, so most families have stopped making Kserotigana themselves and order them from one of the two specialty shops that prepare it in Chania. This recipe was given to me by Mrs. Hara Papadaki, owner of the only remaining bell foundry in Chania.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½-⅓ cup water
  • Olive and sunflower oil (half and half), for frying

Syrup

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Large piece of orange peel
  • Large piece of lemon peel
  • ½ cup coarsely ground walnuts and almonds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)

Method

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the olive oil, lemon juice, and water, little by little, kneading to make a firm dough. Cover and let rest for about 1 hour.

Sprinkle a work surface lightly with flour, divide the dough into 2 or 3 parts, and roll out to obtain a rectangular sheet of pastry about ⅛-inch thick. Cut 1½ to 2-inch-wide ribbons that are 10 to 15 inches long.

In a deep skillet or pan, heat about 5 inches of oil to 360°F. Roll the ribbons and pick them up with tongs. As you transfer them to the hot oil, turn the tongs so the ribbons swirl, and deep-fry each one separately until it starts to turn yellow, about 1 minute. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on layers of paper towels.

In a small saucepan, heat the water, honey, and sugar. Add the orange and lemon peel and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the heat.

Take one Kserotigano at a time, place it on a slotted spoon, and dip it in the warm syrup. Remove it immediately and sprinkle with the walnuts, almonds, and sesame seeds.