These castagnole fritte are deep fried sweet pastry balls and although immensely popular during Carnival season in Italy, my mom would typically make them during the Easter holiday. They were always served piled high on a large serving platter and would disappear in no time at all. They are to Italians the equivalent of Timbits to Canadians.
Although there are many variations to these two bite sweet morsels, lemon was the choice of flavor for both my parents and the only way dad would eat them. Simply because, they evoked memories of his own mamma whipping up batches of these castagnole with their very familiar lemon scent.
Unlike the Zeppole which are a ricotta based doughnut, these castagnole fritte are leavened with yeast. They require a bit more work and of coarse there is also the rising time to factor in but they are so worth it in my opinion.
To enhance the lemon flavor I added Limoncello liquor to the dough. However, if you are not a fan of lemon, vanilla extract with Brandy or Rum liquor would make a wonderful substitution.
Like any deep fried doughnut, they are at their best eaten the same day while they’re still warm and soft because they get slightly drier if eaten the following day, However, a few seconds in the microwave will quickly soften them up again.
Castagnole can be filled with any jam of your choice. Start by poking a hole in the doughnut. Place the jam in a piping bag that is fitted with a round tip. Pipe in up to 1 teaspoon of jam in each castagnole.
Alternately, you can also fill the doughnuts with custard or even some lemon curd.
On a different note… I thank you all for your sincere condolences. You are all so thoughtful and your kindness during this difficult time has been truly heartwarming.
Wishing you a Happy Easter filled with delicious food and surrounded by family and friends, creating your own special memories in the kitchen!
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 8 g active dry yeast 1 envelope
- generous pinch of salt I used fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten (room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel from 2 medium lemons
- 1 Tablespoon Limoncello Liquor
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- vegetable or canola oil for deep frying
- more granulated sugar for rolling
- 1 cup cherry jam approximately
Sprinkle the yeast in a bowl containing 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and let this sit for a few minutes (till creamy) then stir to dissolve.
Add in 1 cup of the flour, a pinch of salt and stir till you get a soft batter. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let this sit for about 30 minutes.
Next, stir in the remaining flour, sugar, the lightly beaten eggs, lemon peel, Limoncello and butter. Mix well.
Start kneading the dough by hand for about 5 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and just a little bit sticky.
Lightly flour a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl, cover with saran wrap and let the dough rise in a warm draft free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The dough will double in volume.
Transfer the dough to a work surface, lightly press it down with your hands and knead it for about 1 minute.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.
With floured hands, roll each piece of dough out into approximately a 24 inch long rope.
Cut each roll into one inch pieces and place them onto a lightly floured baking sheet.
Pour 2 inches of oil in a medium sized sauce pan or dutch oven and heat to 375* degrees. (use a thermometer)
When the oil has reached 375*, carefully drop in about 6 pieces of dough at a time. (This will also depend on the size of your sauce pan). Don't over crowd them.
When the fritters are golden on one side, flip over to the other side.
Once golden brown on both sides, use a slotted spoon and drain the castagnole on paper towels.
Roll the castagnole in granulated sugar turning to coat all over.
Poke a small hole in the castagnole and use a piping bag fitted with a small round tip and pipe 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cherry jam into each doughnut.
Serve while still warm, piled high on a serving platter.