If you’ve ever been inside an Italian bakery, chances are you’ve seen and maybe even purchased crostoli. Well, let me introduce you to frappe, crostoli’s far, far superior sibling.
Growing up with an Italian grandmother meant we were treated to all kinds of delicious savoury Italian meals – pasta and the best damn sauce I’ve ever had in my life, suppli, meatloaf, homemade pizza, the list goes on and on. However, I don’t remember her making a lot of sweets. Dessert was usually a choc wedge when we were little kids, or a Vienetta sliced up and shared amongst the long table of family. My parents tell me Nonna did used to make sweets, but it must have been mostly before I was born, or when I was too young to be interested in anything except choc wedges and coloured wafer biscuits. But one thing Nonna did make occasionally was frappe. The excitement that would whip through her house when we arrived and saw the plate of iced, fried dough sitting on the kitchen bench was palpable, because she didn’t do it for every dinner, just once in a while. When I was at uni I filmed Nonna making some her delicious food, and managed to get the recipe written down to emulate – if you have a European grandmother you know how difficult this can be. The recipes are all in their heads, so at best you get something along the lines of “mix flour and sugar and butter and a little bit of milk, maybe some dry white wine if you like. Roll it out and fry it, then sprinkle with icing sugar.”
Sure, okay, Nonna. That sounds easy enough.
But wait! Do I melt the butter or not? How much milk exactly do I need? A little bit? HOW MUCH IS THAT?
It’s very difficult and frustrating because all you want to do is fry up some dough and stuff in your mouth, but without a recipe, it ain’t gonna happen. So once I had the recipe written down, I could make it to my heart’s content. I realised recently that a) I was craving some frappe, and b) I hadn’t made it in a really long time, at least for a couple of years. That is too long between frappes, my friends. TOO LONG, I tell you. This past long weekend I had a spare couple of hours, so I pulled out the recipe and got to work. The result was probably the best batch of frappe I’ve made ever. Literally EVER. So of course, I want you to know the joy of fried dough and sugar as much as I do. Here’s the recipe!
1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 cup of milk
Half a teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon dry white wine (optional)
2 cups plain flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup additional plain flour, approx
Canola or sunflower oil for frying
To make the dough:
– Combine the butter, sugar, wine, vanilla and milk in a saucepan over a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
– Sift the flour into a bowl or onto a large, clean bench top in a pile.
– Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the egg and the butter and sugar mix, using a fork to quickly combine it with the flour until it forms a soft, sticky dough. Let it cool down for about ten minutes or so.
– Turn the dough onto a well floured surface and begin kneading it, adding flour until the dough has lost its stickiness. I used about an extra half a cup or so. Basically you’ll know when the dough isn’t sticky as you knead it and pull it apart and knead it again.
– Divide the dough into thirds to roll it out.
– Take the first third and roll it out, over and over until it is literally paper thin. A good guide is if you can almost see the bench top through it. Take a separated pastry cutter and make lines in the dough to form the shape of a parallelogram.
– Peel the cut pastry off the bench top and lay it flat. Make two small slices length ways at each end to create a small hole that helps prevent bubbling.
– Pinch the centre of the dough together to make a sort of bow tie shape.
– Lay on a plate and continue rolling out the dough and cutting the frappe shapes out until all the dough has been used up.
There’s a short video over on my Instagram that shows how I cut the shapes and fry them – pop over and have a look!
To fry the frappe:
– In a medium depth fry pan, add a quarter of an inch of oil and heat up. Once it’s hot enough, but not boiling, begin placing the frappe in and frying them quickly.
– Don’t crowd the pan, usually three or four at a time is more than enough. As they begin to bubble and cook, get them a light golden brown on one side, then flip them over so they become light golden brown on the other side. They fry really quickly, so don’t leave them unattended or they’ll get overcooked.
– Once they’re fried on both sides, lay them on trays lined with paper towels to drain the oil.
– When the whole batch is fried, let them cool completely and sift icing sugar over the top.
– Serve and enjoy!
This recipe makes about thirty to forty pieces of frappe. Total prep and cooking time is about two hours. The majority of time is spent rolling out the dough as thin as you can – it’s quite time consuming! Frying it only takes about twenty minutes or so.
Honestly, if you try this recipe, you will not regret it. Light, flaky, sugary pastry that is so moreish you won’t be able to stop at one or two. Trust me.
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