I am blessed to have the best, most loving, caring, giving, generous sister that ever was. She is truly the benchmark by which all other sisters are judged. My wonderful sister sent me this recipe and asked if I could make them, well, how could I even think of saying no. I never would.
Like so many other foods I make, this donuts reminded me of my mom. When we were little and even all through my teenage years, whenever my mom made bread, she would make extra dough and make us special treats called “pizze frite” which in Italian means fried dough. That is exactly what it is. The bread dough is just cut into random pieces, deep fried and rolled in sugar. It is truly delicious and my sister and I would happily eat them until we were ready to explode. I admit that to this day, whenever I make bread I make extra dough and fry up a batch of “pizze frite” and think of my mom and the happy times my sister and I had gobbling them up.
These donuts are really very similar to those my mom made with the exception that these have butter and egg yolks in the dough. They are very simple to make and really don’t have much hands on time at all. Just shaping, frying and filling and it really doesn’t take long or much effort to do for the wonderful pay off you get.
For pasta and savory dishes I think ricotta from the grocery story or Italian market is fine but for sweet dishes and baked goods I really prefer to make my own. It only takes about 45 minutes to make and I like that I can control the consistency of the cheese. I have included my recipe for homemade ricotta here.
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling
3 tsp dried yeast
3 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups plain flour, plus extra
3 1/2 oz chilled butter, cut into small cubes
Oil for frying
1 cup ricotta
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Combine milk and a pinch of the sugar into a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle over yeast and set aside for 5-6 minutes until foamy. Stir in the remaining sugar and egg yolks until combined.
In a large bowl add the flour. Rub in the butter to the flour until the mixture resembles bread-crumb consistency. Pour in the egg mixtutre and stir until a rough dough forms.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until a smooth dough forms. Place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
For the filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl and using an electric mixer, blend until thoroughly combined. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 equal portions and roll each into a ball and then flatten slightly. Note: this is the shape they will be when they fly so make sure you’re happy with them. Place onto a greased tray and let rise-covered with a tea towel for 40-50 more minutes. They won’t quite double in size.
Heat oil in a large pan to 315 F. Cook the doughnuts in batches for 8 minutes, turning once halfway. Transfer onto a plate lined with paper towel to cool.
Using a small knife, out a hole into each donut for the filling. Put the filling into a piping bag or large freezer bag. Push the nozzle into the side of the donut and squeeze the filling into each. Roll the donuts in sugar to finish.
Here is my recipe for Ricotta Cheese
Fresh Whole-Milk Ricotta
Yields about 10 to 12 ounces
8 cups whole milk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cheese salt or very fine sea salt (optional)
2 cups buttermilk, preferably whole milk
Place the milk in a large heavy saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring slowly and almost constantly, until the milk comes to a frothing boil. Turn off the heat and, as the bubbling subsides stir in the salt and buttermilk. Continue gently stirring in one direction until the curss and whey separate (the mixture at this point will resemble thickened buttermilk. The whey will still look milky and the curds will be very small). Remove from the stove and let sit, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Carefully pour the curds and whey through the cheesecloth. (The whey will drain into the bowl. Save for another use or discard.) Leave the curds in the strainer to drain for about 15 to 30 minutes depending on the desired consistency. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.