Here in Italy it is that time of the year again. Carnevale is probably one of the biggest holidays of the year, except that it lasts 2 weeks. It is a very pleasant time mainly for children, who wear costumes and celebrate with their parents in the local town square.
Carnevale starts 2 weeks before the beginning of Lent and ends on shrove tuesday (or pancake tuesday as I remember well). Waking up this morning I was reminded by my daughters and husband that shrove tuesday was just around the corner and shouldn’t I get a start on those castagnole? This is a traditional sweet treat made only during this time of the year. Deliciously crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Easy to make and a pleasure to eat.
- 1½ cups (200 grams) flour
- ½ tablespoon (8 grams) baking powder
- ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 medium eggs
- 1¼ teaspoons (3.5 grams) cinnamon*
- 3 tablespoons (40 grams) softened butter
- zest of ½ a lemon
- ½ teaspoon (5grams) vanilla
- vegetable oil for frying
- powdered sugar for dusting
- In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the middle and add sugar, eggs, softened butter, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix together with hands to form a soft and smooth dough. Knead for a couple of minutes. Cutting a piece of dough at a time, roll the dough to form a 1 inch (2 centimeter ) thick rope. Cut the rope in pieces the size of large (I cut mine very large) cherries and roll between your hands to form balls (see photo).
- Meanwhile, start heating the oil (in a large fryer or deep pot), make sure the temperature remains between 300 and 325° (150-160°), too high and they cook on the outside but not in the middle. Once oil is at the correct temperature, fry a few castagnole at a time, till they are golden brown and nicely puffed. Approximately 2 minutes, but turn often so they brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels, when cooled (at least slightly) dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy.
- * If you wish instead of the cinnamon you can add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of rum or anise (aniseed) liqueur.