Fluffy Doughnuts

Mid-morning and about 6 p.m. are the times of the day when bagfuls of Bomboloni are consumed by groups of local teenagers in Tuscany. The air is filled with the sweet and irresistible scent of the doughnuts frying, and wherever you look outside the shops there are groups of young people with their mopeds, hanging about munching ...I remember when it was Bomboloni day at home and we children were kept away from the spitting fat in the safety of the garden and would queue up outside the kitchen window waiting to be handed the hot cakes.


  • 450 g (1 lb) plain flour plus extra
  • 115 g (4 oz) granulated sugar
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 75 ( oz) softened butter
  • 30 (1 oz) fresh yeast
  • about 1.2 litres (2 pints) oil for deep frying


Tip the flour on to the table top, add two-thirds of the sugar, the lemon rind and the salt. Shape it into a mound with your hands and plunge your fist through the centre to make a hole right down the middle.

Cut the butter into smallish pieces and put them in the hole. Knead the dry ingredients with the butter for about 5 minutes, adding just enough warm water to combine the ingredients. Crumble the yeast into a teacup and add enough warm water – about 175 ml (6 fl oz) – to make a runny, smooth paste. Add this to the dough and knead it for a further 15 minutes or until the dough is completely elastic. Put it into a lightly floured bowl, cover it with a napkin and leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and knead it for a couple of turns before rolling it out lightly with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 1 cm (½ inch). Using an upturned glass or a pastry cutter, cut the dough into circles. Lay large napkins or clean cloths on 2 large trays, sprinkle with flour and place the circles on the cloth without touching one another. Re-knead the trimmings, roll and cut into circles. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

Heat the oil to 180°C (350°F) in a deep-fat fryer or other suitable pan that is deeper than it is wide – there must be plenty of oil so the frying doughnuts can move around freely. When the fat is hot, add the doughnuts: put the side of the doughnut which was touching the floured cloth into the fat first. Fry about 3 at a time, rolling them over until they are puffed, golden and crisp on both sides.

Remove them with a slotted spoon and let them drain on kitchen paper, then roll them briefly in the remaining sugar. It is very important that you keep adjusting the heat under the fat so that you keep the temperature of the fat as constant and even as possible. Serve the doughnuts warm.