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Crostoli (Fried dough balls, without yeast, Italian Carnival fritters)
Originated from: Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto
Occasion: Carnival
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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2 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Zest of 1 lemon

Vegetable oil for frying*

* Prior to World War II olive oil was used for deep frying in Italy, but nowadays most North Americans of Italian origin use all-purpose vegetable oil; however, most cooks, Italian or otherwise, agree that canola oil or peanut oil is best for frying as these oils don't leave an aftertaste


Beat eggs.

Add milk to the beaten eggs.

Add sugar, flour, baking powder and zest of 1 lemon.

Work into a soft dough on a floured wooden board.

Let the dough rest for half an hour or so in the fridge.

Roll out the dough until thin (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick).

Using a lightly floured small cookie cutter (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) and cut the cookies.

Heat the vegetable oil and fry the cookies, a few at a time, until golden brown.

Please note the "crostoli" will puff up; once fried, they'll look less like "flat" cookies and more like balls of fried dough.

Cool and serve with a bowl of sugar (for dipping) or home-made jam.


Of all Italy's fried cookies, these are the easiest to make. Crostoli don't have the same donut-like taste of some of the other fried balls of dough like "castagnole", but nonetheless they have a pleasant country flavour. They taste similar to scrapelle, but unlike with scrapelle, yeast is not required. And so if you dislike baking with yeast (I do!) then that's a plus. Crostoli are nice and easy to do, and give an inkling of what Italian home-made fried dough tastes like, but they are not the most delicious of the lot. For a similar recipe which is a touch easier to do check out "Tarallucci di Natale" in "Taralli Dolci." P.S. In some parts of Northern Italy the recipe, "crostoli," refers to fried strips of dough, rather than to fried balls of dough. For such a recipe see Lina Pietrantonio's recipe on this website. Photo and notes: Mary Melfi.

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