My granny (like all the grannies here in Italy) used to say many proverbs and she often said: “Il fritto è buono anche in capo a un tignoso” that’s italian for: “fried food is good even if eaten on a dirty head”…how to blame her? If there’s something we don’t like, we’ll probably like it if fried.
Probably that’s why Frati Toscani (Tuscan Doughnuts) are one of the most requested desserts in our Cooking Classes in Tuscany, mostly in our kids’ cookery classes, when there’s someone who like kneading and working by hands. Anyway ours are definitely all hands-on cookery courses on vacation and we often prepare Tuscan Doughnuts in our couple cookery courses with and for adults as well.
In Spring or Summer, when sun is high and a swimming pool is waiting for you, you can mostly enjoy your holiday learning to make a typical Tuscan Menu at your holiday home; there’s no bigger gift to me than see the smiles and happiness of our cooks-students together with their family and friends.
Last Summer we run a Private Cooking Class for a family of 4 that came from U.K.; they were here in Tuscany on vacation in a beautiful B&B among olives trees, between Pisa and Lucca: La Lucertola. The parents like cooking and kids are used to read culinary books and try recipes, anyway they were curious how to prepare Tuscan Donuts and Tortelli Maremmani and their cooking class was focused on these.
Tuscan Doughnuts are very simple to make, but (as everything simple) it needs to be respected each step; in addiction to this, I’m passing you a small trick from my granny: using fresh heavy cream in the dough, to give an amazing soft and light texture.
The name is “Frati” (italian for monk) because of the “ring” of hair that monks have on their head.
If you prepare them without the “hole” in the center, here in Tuscany they are named Bomboloni (Italian for Krapfen) and you can fill them with a Chocolate Cream or Custard…I leave you to imagine how they’re amazing.
Here in Tuscany we used to prepare Frati Doughnuts during Carnival festivity, together with other fried delicacies sold “on the road” during country fairs. In fact nowadays you can find these doughnuts in every season of the year, but they’re still sold as a street food, or prepared at home from mothers and grannies.
Like everything “easy to taste”, Tuscan Doughnuts are perfect at any time of the day: snack, lunch or dinner time; the left doughnuts from our cookery lessons in Tuscany (we often prepare a lots) are perfect as breakfast for the day after.
My granny’s tips:
- Use heavy fresh cream
- Be sure having set all you need handy when you’re frying
- Use the handle of a wooden spoon to thread it into the hole of the doughnut and get it spinning while frying
- Put in the caster sugar immediately after drained in oil absorbing cooking paper; they’ll be very hot, but it’s important that they’re in contact with the sugar just when they’re still hot
Click the links below to read, share or print some other recipes in our Cooking Classes in Tuscany:
- 2 cups flour (300gr)
- 1 whole egg
- ½ oz fresh yeast (or 1 packet dried yeast)
- 1 tbsp caster sugar for the dough
- 3½ Fl oz (100 ml) fresh heavy cream
- 1 grated lemon zest (organic)
- 1 cup (200gr) caster sugar for coating
- ½ bottle of peanuts oil (or corn oil)
- pour the fresh heavy cream (better if at room temperature or warm) in a cup and mix it well with the yeast
- put the flour in a bowl and make a hole in the center (as for making fresh pasta)
- pour in the heavy cream
- pour in the egg and beat it with a fork
- combine these ingredients by the help of the fork
- add the tbsp of sugar
- add the lemon zest
- start kneading to create a ball of dough, smooth and elastic texture, similar to that one for pizza (if too wet you'll add more flour, if too dry more fresh heavy cream)
- cover the bowl with a film and let it rest around 1 h; possibly in a place without air (I put it inside the oven, off and with the door closed)
- once doubled the volume of the dough, it's ready to be rolled on a work surface sprinkled with flour
- roll out the dough to a ½ inch thickness
- cut the dough with a cookie or a doughnut cutter 3 inch diameter rounds (my granny used the rim of a glass)
- cover with a plastic wrap
- pour the oil in a large pan and let it well heat (if you put in a crumble of bread you'll see small bubbles all around)
- when oil is hot, make a hole in the center of the rounds with your thumb and place them slowly in the pan (you can use a slotted metal spoon)
- fry just 1 or minute per side, using the handle of a wooden spoon inside the hole and get it spinning Flip them when they're light golden brown
- transfer on a tray covered with oil absorbing cooking paper
- immediately put in the sugar both sides and coat well
- Your Tuscan doughnuts, frati Toscani are ready!