At Christmas time, upon entering my Dalmatian home, you will be greeted by a bowl of fragrant and sweet fritule. Shrug off the cold, and close the door behind you. Come in. We will exchange Christmas greetings, and have a chat over fritule, and perhaps a little brandy to warm you up. The next guest will be also greeted by fritule, and by our laughter.
For this year’s Festive Food Fair hosted by Anna of Morsels and Musings, I present you – fritule, a traditional Dalmatian sweet that can be found on every Dalmatian table at Christmas! Fritule (pronounced ‘freetooleh‘) are aromatic bite-sized dough balls, flavoured with lemon zest, orange zest, grape brandy (loza in Croatian) and/or dark rum, and sprinkled with icing sugar. Everyone has a winning recipe of their own, and this one is my mum’s tried and tested version! We made these together this summer. These days, whenever I go home, I use this as an opportunity to learn a new Croatian dish or sweet from my mum, and rediscover the good old familiar dishes.
SOURCE: My mum’s recipe
PREPARATION TIME: 5 – 10 min + the time the dough will take to rise
COOKING TIME: 20 – 30 min
CUISINE: Croatian – Dalmatian
50 g of raisins, rinsed and soaked in warm water (this softens them)
1 kg of all purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 sachets of vanilla sugar (or two tsp of vanilla essence)
1 1/2 cube of fresh yeast (40 g), or 3 sachets of dried yeast
1 dl vegetable oil for the dough + more for frying
zest of 1 – 2 lemons
zest of 1 – 2 oranges
2 tbsp dark rum (or loza, grape brandy, or why not both!)
warm water as necessary
1. Put the eggs, sugar, vanilla and vegetable oil in a bowl, and beat together with a wooden spoon for a little. Add lemon and orange zest, and raisins.
2. If you are using dried yeast, mix in the yeast in one part of the flour. Then, add this to the eggs. OR If you are using fresh yeast, melt the yeast in 2 dl warm water. Then add the yeast to the egg mixture, and then the flour.
3. Mix with the wooden spoon. Continue mixing until the dough stops sticking to the wooden spoon.
4. Leave the dough to stand, until it almost doubles in size. The mixture is going to be warm, but it mustn’t be too warm otherwise it will ruin the yeast (says mum). If your pot/bowl is cold, put it in another bowl/pot filled with warm water.
5. Pour some oil in a pan – you need to have enough so that the fritule don’t touch the bottom of the pan when you add them to the oil. Heat the oil until fairly hot.
6. Dip a spoon in the oil. This will stop the dough from sticking to it. Then, take a bit of dough in your hand, squeeze it in your fist, and scoop off what comes out between the thumb and the index by using the spoon.
7. Put the dough ball into very hot oil. And repeat the process: dip the spoon into hot oil, then scoop the dough, then put the dough ball into hot oil. Fry until golden brown.
8. Turn the dough balls over. Start taking them out when they get this (see below) nice light brown colour. 9. Take them out in batches and put on some tissue paper which will soak up some of the oil.
10. Put the fritule in a pan and cover with a lid to keep them a little warm.
11. Repeat the process until you use up all the dough. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving. Fritule don’t need to live in the fridge, and can last for a few days.
Surfing the net for some background info on fritule, I came across this interesting idea: add prunes instead of raisins, and slivovitza, plum brandy instead of loza/rum! Which gave me another idea: use apricots and loza, or any apricot brandy! Not traditional, but I’m sure it would be tasty! As you can see,the basic dough lends itself to creativity well. Excellent!