Yeah, yeah I know….. fried dough doesn’t sound all that inviting…it’s not as pleasant-sounding as doughnut or as exotic as beignet but trust me, Petulla are fried pieces of heaven to our family. There are many variations in the world when it comes to fried dough. These petulla can be eaten alone (the way I like them) or with feta cheese or with honey or both as my husband and son like them. They can also be covered with powdered sugar…to do this I place some powdered sugar in a clean paper lunch bag….toss in a couple of petulla and shake until they are coated with the sugar. My son and I like to look at the odd shapes and see if we can identify objects in the shapes just like you would do with clouds in the sky.
I grew up on these but my mother didn’t teach me the recipe. She is old school so she doesn’t measure her ingredients with measuring cups and spoons and I don’t like to cook or bake without those measuring devices. I came across my recipe in the most unexpected of places….The Sopranos Family Cookbook. I bought the cookbook because I loved the TV show and I love Italian food….but the recipe I’ve used the most in this book was the Zeppole recipe. I was floored when I saw the Zeppole picture….they looked exactly like Petulla! So I tried the recipe but I was slightly disappointed…it was close to my mom’s petulla but something was missing. I thought back to the way my mom made it and I realized that she put eggs into her batter. I tried the altered recipe and SUCCESS! I turned an Italian zeppole recipe into an authentic Albanian petulla recipe.
Adapted from the Sopranos Family Cookbook
Makes about 12 to 18 petulla
– 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F.)
– 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (not instant or rapid rise)
– 2 teaspoons sugar
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 egg
– Vegetable oil for deep-frying (I prefer corn oil for this recipe)
1. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water in a measuring cup. Stir until the yeast dissolves.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and slat. Add the yeast mixture and egg and stir with a wooden spoon until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes. The batter/dough will be like a very, very loose bread dough.
3. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a deep heavy saucepan or deep fryer. Heat the oil until the temperature reaches 370 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer.
4. Drop the dough/batter from a large soup spoon while using another spoon to scrape it off…try to stretch the dough as you drop it into the hot oil so it doesn’t lump up into a ball but into a flatter shape. Once in the oil…use another spoon to very carefully splash the dough with the hot oil so it puffs up nicely. Add another 2 or 3 to the oil and splash carefully after each addition. Fry the petulla until golden brown and puffed, then turn over and fry other side….3 to 6 minutes total. Remove the petulla with tongs or slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining batter.
This recipe can easily be doubled.