I picked up this recipe in the Istrian town of Castelnuovo (now Rakalj), where my brother-in-law Romano took us to a party for which somebody named Vera made these fritters. I don’t remember Vera very well, but her frittole were memorable.
- 1 cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup dark rum
- 1 ounce fresh yeast or ½ envelope active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm milk (body temperature)
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 egg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 ounces plain yogurt
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- ¼ pound pine nuts
- 3 cups vegetable oil
- Confectioners’ sugar to taste
Soak the raisins in the rum. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk together with half the sugar and ½ cup of the flour. Mix well (the mixture will resemble lumpy pancake batter), cover, and set aside in a warm place to activate the yeast. The mass should double in volume within 15-20 minutes.
In the meantime, beat the egg with the remaining sugar, the salt, vanilla extract, and yogurt. Combine the baking powder with the remaining flour and add it to the yogurt mixture. Blend well and add the yeast mixture. Beat 10-15 minutes, until the dough is soft and sticky. Drain the raisins and add them to the dough, together with the citrus zests and pine nuts, distributing the fruit and nuts evenly. Cover the dough with a dry cloth and let it rise in a warm place until the volume doubles, about 40 minutes.
In a deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil just short of smoking point. Dip a teaspoon into the hot oil, then scoop up as much dough as the spoon will hold, and slide it into the hot oil. Repeat the process until skillet is full. Fry the fritters, turning them with a slotted spoon, until honey-brown on all sides. Repeat with the remaining dough, draining the fritters on paper towels as they are done. When the fritters are cool, sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar. Serve at room