The food of the angels. Flavoured with citrus rind and grappa, and sprinkled with icing sugar, crostoli are the lightest ribbons of fried pastry and a must for every Italian gathering at Christmas, Easter and christenings. Crostoli are believed to originate from the Veneto region and this recipe is from Venetian-born chef Vanessa Martin.
- 500 g plain flour
- 1 sachet Lievito Bertolini (vanilla-flavoured raising agent), or 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 1 orange, rind grated
- 1 lemon, rind grated
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tbsp grappa (Italian brandy)
- 3 eggs
- cottonseed oil for deep-frying
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 30 minutes
Combine the flour, Lievito sachet (or baking powder and vanilla), icing sugar and citrus zest in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. (This can also be done in a food processor.) Add the grappa and eggs and mix with your hands to form a dough. Transfer to a work surface and knead for a few minutes. Cover in plastic wrap and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into a few pieces so it is easier to work with. Roll the first piece through a pasta machine on the widest setting. Fold it in half and run it through the machine again. Do this several times until smooth, then start rolling it out at narrower settings until you reach the last setting and have a very thin, long sheet. Lay the sheet on a floured surface while you roll out the other pieces of dough.
Cut the sheets into strips 3–4 cm wide (a ravioli cutting wheel with a crimped edge gives a decorative look). Cut a few small slits in the centre of each strip running lengthways.
Deep-fry small batches of crostoli in hot oil (180°C) until pale golden. Drain on paper towel. Dust with icing sugar to serve.