Oreillettes

Little Ears

We drove away from Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne after a month’s stay at the riverside camp-site beside the bridge. Our four-year-old daughter’s lower lip quivered – only a small bag of warm oreillettes straight from the boulangerie could help offset her disappointment at leaving France until the next year. These crisp nothings, modelled on piglet’s ears, are also known as ‘bugnes’ and are traditionally made at Christmas in the Ardèche.

Ingredients

  • 255 g(9 oz) flour
  • 55 g(2 oz) butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 45 g( oz) caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon sunflower oil
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon orange-flower water
  • oil for deep-frying
  • vanilla sugar

Method

Sift the flour on to a cold work-surface or into a wide bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the butter, the egg, caster sugar, salt, sunflower oil, baking powder, orange-flower water and 2 tablespoons cold water. Use the fingertips to work all the ingredients together as when making pastry. Gather into a ball and knead slightly. Cover the dough with the upturned bowl and leave for 15 minutes.

On a floured board, roll out the dough until 1–2 mm( in) thick. Use a toothed pasta wheel to cut strips about 4 cm( in) wide and then cut across to make diamond shapes.

Deep-fry the pastries, three or four at a time, in hot deep fat. This takes only 2–3 minutes and the oreillettes will swell up like cushions. Drain on kitchen paper and toss in vanilla sugar. Makes about fifty little ears.

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