With Ash Wednesday’s imminent arrival, and the gastronomic restraints of Lent looming, Italians view Carnevale as an excuse for over-indulgence. Fritole, or Fritelle are a Venetian treat popular during Carnevale, although they can be enjoyed as snacks any time of the year. Classic Venetian Fritole contain raisins or bits of candied fruit, and are sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are not refined, and even a little heavy, but perfectly delicious.
FRITOLE (Makes between 20-30)
2 tablespoons baking powder, or 2 pkg. dry yeast
2 cups milk
1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons superfine sugar
3 cups flour, sifted
zest of one lemon
pinch of cinnamon
1 tablespoon rum
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons raisins
3 tablespoons pine nuts
oil for deep-frying
vanilla-flavored sugar, or regular powdered sugar.
Dissolve the baking powder with warm milk in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the egg and the egg yolk and sugar, then whisk in the flour, the lemon zest, cinnamon, rum and salt. The mixture should be fairly soft. Work it with a wooden spoon and allow it to sit for one hour in a warm place. Next, mix in the raisins and the pine nuts.
Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or a high sided frying pan to 375• F, or until small cubes of bread dropped into the fat bubble and begin to brown. With a large spoon, dipped into hot water, scoop up 1-2 tablespoons of the batter, and cautiously push the batter off the spoon into the hot oil. Cook the fritter until it has a deep, golden-brown color, turning it while it is frying. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Cut open this test fritter to make sure it has cooked through. If it is too dark on the outside, but not cooked enough on the inside, you can lower the heat slightly.
Continue to form and cook the Fritole five or six at a time. Drain on paper towels and serve hot, sprinkled with vanilla sugar or powdered sugar.