Crostoli are known as cenci, galani, sfrappole or bugie depending on which region or town in Italy you are in, and are typically eaten at Carnevale on the days leading up to Lent. I use a pasta machine to achieve this, which is not necessary but it makes your work a bit easier if you have one!
This is my mother’s recipe and she swears that the secret to good crostoli is to make the pastry very thin, so that the ribbons of dough cook quickly and become crisp.
- 650 g (1 lb 7 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 85 g (3 oz) caster (superfine) sugar pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 45 ml (1½ fl oz) grappa, brandy or marsala
- zest of 1 orange
- 3 tsp white wine vinegar
- grapeseed, peanut or sunflower oil, for frying
- icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting
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
Place the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the egg, grappa, brandy or Marsala, orange zest, vinegar and 70 ml (2¼ oz) water, and mix with a wooden spoon. Alternatively, mix the ingredients in a food processor. Empty onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth, firm and homogeneous. If the pastry is a little crumbly, add a little more water and knead until you have the right consistency. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into quarters, keeping the dough you are not working on well covered in plastic wrap. On a well-floured work surface, roll one piece of dough into a rectangular shape that will fit through the widest setting of your pasta machine. Roll the dough through the machine, then reduce the setting and keep feeding the dough through until you get to the thinnest or second thinnest setting. Roll through the last setting three times.
Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the edges off the dough and then cut into three long thin strips. Cut each strip into 8 cm (3¼ in) pieces. Again, using the pastry wheel, make a cut in the centre of each strip, then thread one end through the cut to make a bow (you don’t have to make the bow – the strips will be fine – but the bow is much prettier). Repeat with the remaining dough.
To cook, heat enough oil for deep-frying in a deep heavy-based saucepan or deep- fryer to 180°C (350°F) or until a scrap of dough sizzles immediately in the oil. Cook 3–4 crostoli at a time for about 30 seconds on one side until the edges start to colour. Turn over and cook brie y on the other side. Drain on kitchen towel and allow to cool a little before dusting with icing sugar. The crostoli will keep, without icing sugar, stored in an airtight container for several weeks.
This recipe is from Italian Street Food. (Smith Street Books). Photography by Paola Bacchia.