Frittelle, ciambelle or simply legendary Italian doughnuts.
These is a special treat that should never be missed during Christmas time and especially during Carnival (Mardi Gras) period.
And honestly, any other time of the year when you have cravings for a soft, lemon-flavored doughnut that simply melts in your mouth.
This an original and authentic recipe from my mother-in-law, who, you might already know by now, is truly an awesome cook and baker!
Did you know the word frittelle comes from the Italian verb friggere which means to fry.
The word ciambella or plural ciambelle means something in a form of a ring or simply donut.
So there you have it, fried Italian doughnuts or donuts (not to get into spelling debate of the century, lol).
Like with chiacchiere (and all other things “deep fried”) here are some secrets to making an unforgettable Italian doughnuts that all your family, friends and neighborhood will talk about.
- Use half bread flour half all purpose flour. This will make your fritelle even more porous and light.
- Instead of lemon zest you can also use orange zest or a combination of both! Only important thing is to choose organic, non-treated lemons/oranges.
- If you like an extra sweet dough add another tablespoon of two of sugar to the basic dough. I like mine almost unsweetened as you have all that beautiful sugar layer on the top.
- Speaking of sugar, when you start dipping and rolling the first batch of fritelle, use only a portion on sugar, just enough quantity to cover the first doughnuts. Add more sugar to the bowl as needed. Otherwise sugar will absorb some oil and will not stick well to the next batch of doughnuts.
And last, but probably the most important, vegetable oil.
- Vegetable oil should be between 350F-360F when you start frying. If the oil is not hot enough fritelle will absorb too much oil and will become greasy. If the oil is extra hot (burning/smoking) it’ll give and unpleasant burned oil flavor the the pastry.
Soft, lemon or orange flavored doughnuts that simply melt in your mouth.
Start by dissolving yeast in lukewarm milk. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
In a bowl of a standing mixer add 6 cups of flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest.
Using a dough hook attachment start to mix on low speed.
Slowly pour in the milk with yeast.
Add eggs and butter cut in cubes.
Increase the speed and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it starts to wrap lightly around the dough hook and come off the sides of the mixer bowl.
The dough should be soft but NOT sticky.
NOTE: If the dough doesn’t come together or it’s too sticky add another ½ cup of flour and a few more table spoons at a time if needed.
Transfer the dough into a large clean bowl, cover with a linen towel and let it rise in a warm, draft free place.
It’ll take anywhere between 1.5 to 2 hours at 75-80F and it’ll take much longer in a cooler place.
Once the dough has almost tripled in size, turn the bowl upside down and let the dough come out in a floured surface. Work the dough with your hands for a minute or two, dust with more flour if needed.
Using a dough scraper cut off a fourth of the dough and with a rolling pin roll it out approx ⅓ -¼ of an inch thick.
Using a doughnut cutter cut out the doughnuts and place them on a well floured surface leaving enough space in between. Cover them with a dry linen/kitchen towel and let rise (always in a warm place) for about an hour.
In a deep pan preheat vegetable oil suitable for frying. The best temperature to start frying the doughnuts is about 350F. You can measure it with a kitchen thermometer.
But if you don’t have one try frying a small piece of the dough first. If it comes up floating in less than 5 seconds the oil is ready.
Once oil is heated turn the temperature on medium low to prevent oil from overheating.
Fry fritelle for a few minutes on each side continuously covering them with hot oil when frying. Once they’re lightly brown on both sides discard on paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Dip each doughnut quickly in fine sugar.
Serve hot, warm, cold or re-heated.
They are delicious even the next day!