Fritti (Italian Deep-Fried Yeast Doughnuts)
My family and the people in my hometown in WV (largely composed of Italian Americans whose ancestors immigrated from Southern Italy) have been making these delectable doughnuts for years. They are simply a yeast dough which is deep-fried and then dusted with granulated sugar. My family calls them fritti. In fact, everyone in my hometown calls them fritti. Fritto in Italian is the past tense for the verb, friggere, which means to fry. It is also a noun that means fried food. Fritti is the plural of fritto.
I've searched many Italian cookbooks and the internet for recipes for Italian doughnuts with the name fritti and found none. So I believe that fritti isn't their authentic Italian name but a name given to them by Italian Americans. I did find several other names for these heavenly fried rings of dough - bomboloni, bombe fritte, grispelle, grispedde, crespelle, vecchiarelle, zeppole, and cuddurieddi. All recipes are similar and each yields a slightly different version of my family's version of fritti. Regardless of what you call them, they are delicious and best eaten hot or warm. They will forever remind me of home.
Makes 25 doughnuts
- 1/4 ounce (2 envelopes) active dry yeast
- 1-1/4 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup oil (or 1/3 cup vegetable shortening)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 quart vegetable (or peanut) oil for frying
Step 1: Sprinkle the yeast over the 1/2 cup warm water, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
Step 2: In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, water, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, oil (or vegetable shortening), and 2 cups of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stir with a wooden spoon.
Step 3: Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Step 4: Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double.
Step 5: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter.
Step 6: Let doughnuts sit out to rise again until double. Cover loosely with a cloth.
Step 7: Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Step 8: Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack. Dip doughnuts in granulated sugar while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess. Serve immediately.