Frittelle Veneziane

Venetian Fritters

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These lovely, light and airy fritters have a gorgeous golden colour and are an important part of the street-food tradition connected to Carnevale. During this festival, fried goodies are available to warm and cheer all passing revellers. All over Italy, the art of deep-frying is highly respected. People usually do this sort of cooking either outdoors or on a balcony in order to prevent the house from being pervaded by the smell of frying. In Italy, the sounds and smells of the sizzling and bubbling of the frying process are often associated with the atmosphere of fun and partying. Serve these classic Venetian sweet treats with strong coffee, a chilled dessert wine or a helping of luscious ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 40 g/ oz fresh yeast
  • 50 ml/2 fl oz/¼ cup warm milk, plus 2-4 tbsp extra for kneading
  • 130 g/ oz/scant 1 cup sultanas/golden raisins
  • 25 ml/ tbsp anise or rum
  • 500 g/ lb/5 cups plain/all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 75 g/3 oz/6 tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 50 g/2 oz/½ cup pine nuts
  • 50 g/2 oz/ cup chopped mixed candied peel
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • icing/confectionerssugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Put the yeast in a bowl and pour over the warm milk. Leave until frothy.

  2. Put the sultanas in a small bowl and cover with the anise or rum. Leave to soak.

  3. Put the flour and sugar in a large bowl and stir together. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture.
  4. Mix together thoroughly, adding as much milk as required to make a smooth, soft dough. Mix in the salt, pine nuts, candied peel and lemon rind.

  5. Cover the bowl with clear film or plastic wrap and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 6 hours. The dough should be very sticky and stringy at this point.
  6. Mix the dough again, adding a little more milk if necessary to make the dough slightly wet - you must be able to spoon it. Line a bowl with some sheets of kitchen paper.
  7. Heat about 1 litre/1¾ pints/4 cups sunflower oil in a deep pan to 180°C/350°F, or until a small piece of bread dropped into the oil sizzles instantly and browns in about 45 seconds.
  8. Fry tablespoonfuls of the fritter mixture in the hot oil, in batches. As soon as the fritters float to the surface, scoop them out of the pan using a slotted spoon and allow to drain on kitchen paper.

  9. Dust the fritters with icing sugar and serve them piping hot, with coffee, if you like.

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