Italian Street Food
June 24, 2021
Up and down the boot of Italy are some very tasty street foods. I am not talking spun sugar cotton candy or fried ice cream but foods with substance and over the years I have had my share of classic ones like ragu filled fried rice balls (arancine) of Sicily and the succulent herb scented porchetta sandwich of Umbria to the pizza a taglio (pizza by the slice) of Rome to the fried stuffed olives from the Marche. But one of my all-time favorites will always be simple pizza fritta or fried dough. It’s not something that I crave all the time but when I do, it just takes me back to my childhood. Mom would make the dough from water, yeast, flour and salt and let it rise. Hot oil was ready and in a big brown paper bag was a combination of sugar and cinnamon. That’s where the magic happened. Lopping off small pieces of the dough, mom fried them to a golden brown and tossed them hot in the sugar and cinnamon and coated them well. One bite of that moist warm dough covered in the crunchy sugar was a tasty jackpot and of course, you could not eat just one!
Cinnamon and Sugar Coating
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon.
1-1/2 cups warm (110F) water
1-teaspoon active dry yeast
3 to 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups vegetable oil for frying
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a large paper bag. Set aside.
Pour the water into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade Add the yeast and whirl to blend. Let stand 10 minutes until chalky and bubbles begin to appear. Add 2-1/2 cups of the flour and the salt; whirl to combine and form a ball of dough that moves away from the sides of the bowl and is not tacky to the touch. Add additional flour if the dough is very wet but adding too much flour will result in a dry, hard texture. The dough should be soft but not gooey.
Grease a large bowl with 1-tablespoon of olive oil and coat the dough in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size. The dough can be made a day ahead and after the rising step, punched down and placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until needed.
When ready to form the pizza fritta, punch down the dough and divide it into 16 pieces and form reach into an oval shape, about 3-inches long and 1-inch thick
Place the pieces on towel lined baking sheets.
Heat 3 cups vegetable oil in a deep fryer or heavy duty large deep pan. Work in batches and fry the dough until they puff up and are golden brown Remove with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.
Place them in the bag with the cinnamon and sugar and shake well to coat them. Serve warm.