These fried doughballs are served in most trattorias in the south of Italy. So not being on holiday yet, I’m dreaming of them. They can be stuffed with anchovies, courgette flowers, olives and even sea plankton. With a glass of wine before dinner they are heavenly.
Makes enough to serve my greedy family
1 Mix the yeast, honey and 500ml of water in a glass jug that will leave enough room to let the yeast double. Leave covered with cling film in a warm draught free place until it foams and doubles in mass.
2 Choose a large baking bowl and pop in the oven so it’s hot, then remove from the oven. Add the flour, salt, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the yeast mixture.
3 Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth – it will be sticky. Transfer back into a clean large mixing bowl and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of extra virgin oil. Cover with cling film and then with a tea towel and put into your cosy place (mine is in my tumble dryer). The dough needs to double in size, this will take about 45 minutes.
4 The next stage requires a bit of guess work and some elbow grease. If your kitchen is hot you will need a bit more water. Using a wooden spoon or a balloon whisk, start beating in the remaining water. You are looking for a sticky batter that is thick enough to form soft balls of wet dough. Sometimes this needs 150ml, other times 100ml is enough.
5 I don’t have a fryer at home so I use a heavy casserole pot. I find the cast iron is best to stabilise the heat. Half-fill the casserole with light olive oil. Only put the oil on the heat once you’re ready to start cooking.
6 Test the oil with a little of the batter. If it sizzles to the surface immediately it’s ready. If it sinks then the oil is still too cold. When ready, spoon small dessertspoons of dough into the oil. The more you start frying, the cooler the oil will become, so be careful not to fry too many at any one time. With a slotted metal spoon, move the dough around the oil so they get an even colour and cook through.
7 When they are crisp and golden remove, sprinkle with a little salt and enjoy.