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Paula's Caragnole (Molisani Christmas fritters, bow ties, without yeast)
Originated from: Caragnole's design from Lupara, Molise; pastry dough, Casacalenda
Occasion: Christmas holidays
Contributed by: Paula Fresco (her mother's recipe)

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For the pastry dough

10 eggs
10 tablespoons sugar
10 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Magic baking powder
8 cups flour

For deep frying
3 to 4 cups vegetable oil

For dipping
3 to 4 cups honey


1. Using an electric beater, beat eggs, sugar and vegetable oil for a few minutes.

2. Add 2 to 3 cups flour and magic baking powder.

Change to dough hooks and slowly add more flour until a dough of the right consistency is formed. Keep kneading for about 10 minutes.

3. Remove dough from bowl and knead by hand for another 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Shape into a ball.

5. Place the dough in a bowl, cover and let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

6. After the dough has rested for an hour, remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand for another 5 or 10 minutes.

7. Shape the dough into a ball once again, place in a bowl and cover.

8. Place the container with the dough in the fridge and let the dough rest overnight (about 8 hours).

9. When one is nearly ready to make the fritters, remove the bowl from the fridge and let the dough rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

10. Remove the dough from the bowl, and cut a piece of dough and pass it through the pasta maker (Keep the remaining dough covered as it hardens quickly).

11. Pass the same piece of dough through the first setting of the pasta maker two to three times (as this further kneads the dough).

12. Continue passing the dough through the pasta maker up to the last number (to the thinnest possible setting).

13. Place the pasta sheet on a wooden board and with a serrated pastry cutter cut strips of about 6 1/2 inches long and 1 inch wide. [If one is making rose-wheeled shaped caragnole one makes strips that are about 24 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide)

14. Make a slit in the middle of the 6 1/2 inch long strip of dough, then pass one of the ends of the strip through the slit and catch it on the other side. The end result show look like a man's bow tie (rather than a knot). [If one is making rose-wheeled shaped caragnole one folds up the strip of dough and makes small pockets by pinching the dough about every 3/4 of an inch, and then rolling up the dough round itself.]

15. Continue processing the dough until all the bow ties are made.

16. Heat up vegetable oil. Place a tiny piece of dough and if it bubbles up, then the oil is hot enough to use.

17. Place two or three caragnole at a time in the hot oil, turning them over, until they are golden.

18. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them on kitchen paper towels to usurp excess oil.

19. Continue until all the caragnole are fried.

20. Cool.

21. Heat up honey until it bubbles.

22. Place one or two caragnole in the pan and coat with honey, turning them over if necessary (takes a few seconds). [If one is dipping rose-wheeled shaped caragnole only the side of the fritter with the pockets is dipped in honey, the bottom flat side is not.]

23. Place the caragnole on a very large platter.

24. Serve at room temperature.


Paula told her cousin, Mary Melfi (The lady who is presently writing this note) that her mother, Annuziata (nee Melfi) Fresco, the best cook in the Melfi family and possibly one of the best home cooks in Montreal, insisted that for caragnoli to be good, really good, they had to be thin and crispy. The only way to get caragnoli to be thin and crispy was to knead the dough -- not once -- but two or three times, and, of course, to roll out the dough as thin as possible (Use a pasta maker's last button). Generally speaking, one knew the dough was O.K. when it was fried and air bubbles appeared. Obviously, not everyone can make thin and crispy caragnoli but Paula's mother not only managed to make perfect bow ties, she also used the same very thin dough to make rose-wheeled shaped caragnoli (A major feat!). Her daughter, Paula, lucky for the Melfi family, inherited her mother's natural talent for cooking. So Paula's recipe for making caragnoli might be the best one to follow for making these traditional Molisan fritters. The dough used is similar from town to town, but the shape of the fritter often differs. The design of these caragnoli originated from the city of Lupara, Molise where one of Paula's aunts (on her father's side) resided.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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