Sunday, December 22, 2013

Frittelle: Traditional Italian Christmas Eve Doughnuts

Every year, my mother makes these frittelle (a type of Italian doughnut), for Christmas Eve and we stuff ourselves silly because we just can't help it...they're so good!

Just like Cioffe or Frappe, which I posted earlier this year, these doughnuts are called by many different names, depending on the region of Italy where they are made. I wouldn't even know how to write the name that my family calls them (because it's in dialect) but the fancier way to pronounce the dialect version is "torciniegli".

I don't believe anyone can eat just one frittella. I truly don't think it's ever happened. I start eating them as I'm standing at the stove, frying them...are you getting the picture here? These babies are awesome! But there's one thing we always ask ourselves when we're in the midst of our frittelle frenzy, "Why do we only make these once a year?"

Maybe it's the same reason we don't make turkey with stuffing and pumpkin pie in April: because it's tradition to make these dishes at a specific time of year. Or maybe not, because I'm putting a note on my calendar for March 15th, 2014 (as good a day as any) to make frittelle again...yep, I'm gonna be a rebel!

Here's another reason we kick ourselves...they're so easy to make! You'll get your hands a bit sticky with dough, but there's no rolling and cutting like traditional yeast doughnuts! Give them a try...and maybe you will also be putting March 15th down on your calendar, as "Frittelle Making Day", too.



2 cups (10 oz) flour, all-purpose
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp dried yeast (or 1/4 tsp fresh yeast)
8 oz water, lukewarm temperature
1 tbsp orange or lemon juice
1 tsp orange or lemon peel

rum soaked raisins (optional)

oil for deep frying

sugar for coating

 Put the yeast in the water and set aside for 5 minutes.
Place the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl; mix together and after the yeast is ready, 
pour the water and yeast mixture into the bowl and mix by hand until 
a very sticky dough forms (if using rum-soaked raisins, add them at this time).
 Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until at least doubled. 
 It will look like the photo below when it is ready.

Place the oil into a deep pan (I used a wok) and heat to a medium high temperature.
Test the oil by dropping a tiny piece of dough into it: if it doesn't begin to fry right away,
the oil is too cold; if the dough browns too quickly, lower the heat as the oil is too hot.

When the oil temperature is correct, take a piece of dough (it will be very sticky)
 and pull into a doughnut shape with a hole in the center, as shown.

 Drop into the hot oil and continue to make more. It is helpful to have another 
person frying the doughnuts while one person is shaping them, as it just too difficult 
to do both things at once, since the dough is so sticky.

The frittelle will rise and cook quickly, so turn them as soon as they begin 
to brown on one side. Once they are cooked, remove them from the oil 
and place on paper-towel lined platefor a minute or two.

Dip the frittelle into the sugar and cover completely.
Place on a serving plate.

I highly suggest serving these immediately!

They are truly best when eaten the same day they are made.

Other Christmas recipes...

Yule Log

Zimtsterne: German Cinnamon Stars

Homemade Mounds or Bounty Chocolates

LA Living...

a winter sunrise out the back door


  1. I love frittelle, they are similar to zepole I think. Fried dough is just the best. My Aunts made these, I remember them being served on Christmas. Love them warm and sugary with a cup of strong coffee. Oh I want one, wish I had someone else here to help me make them. I will have figure out a way to make them myself. Merry Christmas!

    1. Yes, I think they are the same as zeppole, Suzanne. You can definitely make them on your own, but it will require an awful lot of hand-washing! ;) Merry Christmas to you, too!! xx


Questions, comments? I'd love to hear from you!