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Calling all fry-babies. It’s only a couple of days until Ash Wednesday, signaling the end of Carnevale and beginning of Lent. During Carnevale, Italians typically feast on rich, (and often) fried foods, like the addictive fried cookies called chiacchiere, or the doughnut-hole-like specialty called castagnole, both of which you can read about and find a recipe for by clicking on those names.

Another treat that’s eaten in Italy all year long, but especially at Carnevale, are these fluffy filled doughnuts, called bomboloni. In the Trentino Alto-Adige region and other Northern parts of Italy, they’re often called Krapfen, a nod to their Austrian name. They’re also called fasnacht in Germany, where they’re served on Fasnacht Day, the day before Ash Wednesday. Call it Fat Tuesday in the U.S., or martedi grassa in Italy, but either way, it’s meant to be the last hurrah of merriment and gluttonous eating before the solemn 40 days of Lent.

I had been wanting to make bomboloni for a long time, and got a push to make them after learning that my daughter-in-law had a weakness for them. Last summer when we were in Tuscany together, she went out early while we were all still asleep to hunt for bomboloni for our breakfast. Once she gave birth to my granddaughter last fall, I felt I had to indulge her with home made bomboloni.

They’re not at all hard to make, but they do require some advance preparation because of the yeast dough, which needs to rise twice until tripled in size. This is what the dough looks like before rising. Sorry I don’t have a photo of the risen dough, but it completely filled the bowl that contained it.

Once it’s risen enough, it’s a very easy dough to work with and roll out into a rectangle.

Use a biscuit cutter, or if you don’t have one, the rim of a glass to cut out circles.

Place the rounds on a baking sheet and allow them to rise until tripled in size again, another one and a half hours or so.

Then carefully fry in hot oil until they’re browned. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil, which should be about 170-180 degrees. If it’s too hot, the bomboloni will brown on the outside and might still be raw inside. If it’s not hot enough, you’ll have greasy bomboloni.

You might want to make a test one before frying all of them, and cut into it to see if it’s fully cooked. Have a large plate of sugar handy. Drain the bomboloni on paper towels, and roll them immediately in the granulated sugar. You could use powdered sugar as an alternative.

You can certainly eat them as is, but they’re even better if you fill them. Use a pastry bag with a plain tip that has a large opening. Cut a slit in the side, insert the tip and squeeze in some of the filling. It’s a little easier if you have someone helping you. I use an easy pastry cream recipe that’s made with whipped cream and instant vanilla pudding.

You can also use Nutella, or even a good jam as your filling.

Either way, they’re best eaten the same day they’re made, which was certainly not a problem here.

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Bomboloni
 
Adapted from Valentina, The Baking Fairy
Author:
Serves: 18-20
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BOMBOLONI DOUGH:
  • 250g (2 cups) bread flour
  • 250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 75g (heaping ⅓ cup) granulated white sugar
  • 100g (7 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 20g fresh cake yeast or 1 package (7g) dry instant yeast
  • 7g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 150g (3) whole large eggs
  • 40g (2) egg yolks
  • 110g (1/2 cup) lukewarm water
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • granulated sugar, for coating
  • pastry cream, Nutella, or jam, for filling
  • FOR THE VANILLA PASTRY CREAM FILLING:
  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding
  • ½ cup whipping cream
Instructions
  1. First, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water, and allow it to sit until it blooms.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all ingredients except for one of the whole eggs, and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, then high speed for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add in the remaining egg, and beat on medium speed until a smooth and elastic dough forms {you may have to add a little more flour if it seems too sticky}.
  4. Knead by hand for a couple of minutes, then place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours until tripled in size.
  5. After the first rise, lightly knead the dough, roll it out to 1.5 cm/0.5 inch thickness, and cut out rounds. I found a regular water glass to be the perfect size!
  6. Transfer all your rounds to baking sheets lined with wax paper, spray lightly with water, and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow the bomboloni to rise another hour and a half until they triple in size once more.
  7. When ready to fry, heat vegetable oil in a large, deep pan to a temperature between 170-180C {a frying thermometer comes in handy}.
  8. Fry the bomboloni a few at a time, making sure to not crowd the pan. Fry them for about 3 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown, then drain off the excess oil, and set them on a wire rack to cool.
  9. While they are still warm, pour some granulated sugar in a small bowl, and roll the bomboloni around until completely coated in the sugar.
  10. FOR THE VANILLA PASTRY CREAM FILLING:
  11. Make the vanilla pudding according to instructions on box.
  12. Whip the cream with 2 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar until it reaches soft peaks.
  13. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding.
  14. Fill a pastry bag that has a long metal tip, with the filling.
  15. Insert a knife into the side of a bombolone and squeeze in some of the filling.
 
This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. Well, what can I say, save that fried dough is one of my favorite food groups. And fried dough filled with pastry cream or any other sweet thing is perfect. Your bomboloni look wonderful, and my only regret is that I am not you next door neighbor. What a wonderful post!

  2. My mouth is watering as I sit finishing emails. I make these every year and serve them at Hanukkah, everyone loves them, the recipe I use incorporates a bit of cooked potato. There is not better way to start the season, regardless of what it is.

  3. Your Bomboloni look mighty tasty Linda. I think I’d need more than one. Interesting to learn the background of the dish. Here we have a similar treat called semla or semlor. We traditionally begin eating our Semlor on Shrove Monday and continue eating them through to Easter. Thanks for sharing.

  4. From one fry baby to another, I say Yum! Been meaning to try out bomboloni for some time now. Interesting to see this recipe has you fill them after you fry. The recipes I’ve seen call for filling before. Just imagine what would happen if one of them inadvertently opens up in the deep fryer. This sounds like a safer method… !

  5. Adri – So good to hear from you. I couldn’t help thinking of you when I wrote the words “fry baby” because I know you’re one of them for sure. I wish you were my neighbor too. I’d bring some bomboloni right over to you. Hope you and Bart are well. XO – Linda

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