Graffe are typical treats for Carnival, just as are chiacchiere, but nowadays they are enjoyed all year around, especially in their hometown of Naples. They are commonly consumed al bar with a cup of coffee (espresso, of course) for breakfast. But they taste even better if they are homemade (fatte in casa). In Italy they are named in different ways according to the area in which they are produced; ciambelle fritte, zeppole di patate or simply potato donuts, for example. The dough is simple and is made with flour, mashed potatoes, eggs, milk, yeast and sugar. The mashed potatoes give a light and fluffy texture to the dough, but the final touch is a dusting of granulated sugar sprinkled on when they are still warm. You can satisfy your sweet tooth with these tasty and delectable treats. During this festive time of the year, in addition to the graffe and the chiacchiere, you can also enjoy tortelli .
GRAFFE DI CARNEVALE (CARNIVAL GRAFFE)
450 g (3 cups) Manitoba flour
180 g (6.5 oz) potatoes
100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar
12 g (0.5 oz) fresh yeast, crumbled
100 ml (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoons) lukewarm milk
70 g (2.5 oz) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 beaten eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small organic lemon, zest
1 pinch of salt
Olive oil for frying
Granulated sugar for dusting
1. Cook the potatoes just until tender either by boiling or baking. It is better to boil the potato in the skin to prevent water absorption. Drain well and set aside until just cool enough to remove the skin. The potatoes should be warm, otherwise the flour and the potato puree will not bind with the egg.
2. In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar (reserving a tablespoon), salt and lemon zest. Add the butter and work with a pastry cutter until texture looks sandy. Set aside.
3. Dissolve yeast in the milk and one tablespoon of sugar. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
4. Put the warm potatoes through a potato ricer (never a mixer) into a bowl. Add the mashed potatoes to the flour and mix with your fingers. Make a well in the center.
5. Add the eggs and the milk. Mix everything together to form a dough.
6. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Depending on the type of potato add more flour if necessary until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a floured bowl, and cover with a cotton cloth. Set in a warm place to rise for one hour.
7. Roll out the dough to 1.5 cm (about 1/2 inch) thickness. Cut the dough with a doughnut cutter (7.5 cm, 3 inch diameter), make a hole in the center (about 2.5 cm, 1 inch). Enlarge the hole with your hands to a diameter of 4 cm, 1-1/4 inch). Let the graffe rest on a floured tray in a warm place for about 20 minutes, loosely covered with a cotton cloth.
8. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 170-180°C (350°F). Slide the graffe into the hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn over when they float, frying on each side until golden brown. Remove from the hot oil and drain on a wire rack covered with paper towel. Dust well with the sugar while still hot and serve warm. – Paola