My friend Luisa, who is from Veneto, calls them “crostoli”. In Genoa, they would be referred to as “bugie”. I have been calling them sfrappole since I can remember but every Italian region will have a different name and a slightly different recipe. “They” are Carnival cakes, thin ribbons of dough, deep fried and sprinkled with powder sugar. Like some of the dishes my mother makes, her sfrappole are the best because they are ethereal, so thin and light they melt in your mouth when, so often, they can othewise be laden with oil and rolled too thick.
Every year, I make a point of NOT making them because I don’t have the self-restraint to stop at a few. I will break down if my mother is visiting and will ask her to prepare them for me (and then I won’t eat anything else for the rest of the day). Her secret is, as usual, some brandy or cognac, and no butter, which can be found in many variations.
Butter will make the sfrappole heavy and greasy. Or so my mother says. Here is her tried and true recipe. Measurements, coming from my mother, are approximate and I translated them as best I could. The dough should be elastic and not too stiff, otherwise you will have a hard time rolling them.
Fry them 2 or 3 at a time in a small pot, unless you have a fryier, which would be ideal.
1 1/2 C AP Flour
1 T Sugar
1 to 2 T Brandy or Cognac
1 C Canola Oil
A/N Powder Sugar
- Put the flour and sugar in a medium bowl, make a well in the center and break the eggs in it. Beat the eggs and flour together lightly with a fork, pulling the flour into the center. Before all the flour is incorporated, add the brandy. If the dough seems too dry, you can add a little bit of water.
- Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Let rest 30 minutes.
- When ready to roll it, divide the dough into 2 balls and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough very thin, until almost transparent. If you have a pasta machine, use the lowest setting.
- Cut the dough into ribbons, about 3” by 1 1/2”. Set aside and repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Pour the oil in a small pot and heat on med/high until very hot. Dropping a little bit of flour in it will immediately sizzle when ready.
- Lower 2 or 3 ribbons at a time and let them get twisted. Lift them tongs when they turn deep golden. Place them on paper towels.
- When finished, using a sifter, sprinkle powder sugar on the sfrappole.