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Braided Caragnole
Braided Caragnole (Braided fried pastry dough strips, without yeast, Christmas fritters)
Originated from: Ripabottoni, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Christmas holidays
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's neighbor's recipe)

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Braided Caragnole

For pastry dough

3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Flour as needed (about 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups)

For deep frying

Vegetable oil

For topping

1 to 2 cups of honey OR
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup icing sugar for dusting


1. In a mixing bowl beat eggs.

2. Add sugar and mix well.

3. Add oil.

4. Mix flour and baking powder.

5. Add the flour slowly to the egg, sugar and oil mixture and work into a very soft dough Knead (by hand) for a few minutes.

6. Divide the dough into two portions and shape them into balls. Wrap the dough-balls in clear plastic and place them in separate containers. Let the dough rest for 4 to 6 hours. [P.S. Nowadays, most cooks, concerned over the eggs spoiling, let the dough rest in the fridge but in the old days, the dough was kept at room temperature.]

7. Remove one of the dough-balls out of its container and form a log (Kind of like a biscotti log).

8 Cut a small portion of the dough and turn into a taralli-style rope about 8 to 10 inches long and 1/4 inch thick [Looks like a pencil].

9. Attach the top of the three sticks together, and braid the three sticks together.

10. Continue doing this until all the dough is used up.

11. When all the braided caragnole are completed, fry them in hot vegetable oil until they are golden (Avoid browning them as they will taste burnt).

12. Place the braided caragnole on kitchen paper towels so that the excess oil is usurped. Cool.

13. Heat up 1 or 2 cups of honey.

14. Drizzle the tops of the braided caragnole with honey.

Or, dust them with icing sugar.

15. Serve at room temperature (The fresher the better!).


It seems that prior to World War II, the word, "caragnole," referred to a number of different styles of fritters in the Molise region. Whether the fritters were presented as rose wheels, bow ties or braids they were all known as "caragnole." However, each little town in Molise seemed to favor one shape over another. So what was a "caragnole" in Ripabottoni looked different to what was a "caragnole" in Casacalenda or some other town. Nowadays, these regional differences have all but disappeared. Most Italians if they serve fried dough for the holidays (And many don't!!!) simply cut rectangular strips and fry them. Often, the dough is laced with vanilla and/or other flavorings which may not be the traditional way, but it sure seems to please the palate. Photo: Mary Melfi

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