Struffoli, a classic Christmas Italian dessert
- 400 g flour type 00
- 3 eggs, organic, free run
- 80 g butter, melted and cooled
- 40 g granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp limoncello (or anice liquor, or orange liquor)
- 1 orange, the zest
- 1 lemon, the zest
- 1 levelled tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- about 600–700 ml peanut oil (or any other vegetable oil) for frying
- 250–300 g acacia honey
- 1 Tbsp icing sugar
- 3 Tbsp sprinkles
- some candied fruits
- some sugar pearls
- Melt the butter and let it cool.In a small bowl add the sugar and limoncello.
- In a big bowl mix flour, baking powder, pinch of salt and the orange and lemon zests.
- Add the melted butter, and the sugar/limoncello mixture.
- With the help of a wooden spoon mix everything until you get a pebbly consistency.
- Make a whole in the middle and add the eggs, then blend it with the wooden spoon, until smooth.
- Shape into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and let it rest, at room temperature, for at least 30 minutes.
- After the resting time, cut a slice of dough about 1.5 cm thick and roll out into a long piece of rope, about 1 cm diameter.
- With a sharp knife cut the rope into pieces about 1 cm big, then roll each piece in the palm of your hands shaping it into little balls.
- Heat up the peanut (vegetable) oil in a small tall pan about 18 cm diameter on medium heat.
- Using a wire mesh colander ladle spoon, cook few of the dough balls at a time, for about 30-40 seconds. Don’t let them brown too much.
- Once cooked, lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. When all drained, place them in a big bowl.
- In another small pan over low heat melt the acacia honey and icing sugar, stirring constantly.
- Take off heat and add to the struffoli in the bowl. Add half of the sprinkles and stir, making sure to coat all the struffoli. Add some of the candied fruit and stir.
- Before the honey hardens, place them in a serving dish or bowl and start shaping them as you most like, a pyramid, a wreath, a Christmas tree.
- Add more sprinkles, candied fruits and sugar pearls.
Panettone is one of the most well known Italian cakes, these small muffin ones are simple to make and taste just as good.
250g plain flour
7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
100ml whole milk, warm
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g golden caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
100g butter, softened
1 orange, zested
100g mixed peel
Mix the flour, yeast, milk and a pinch of salt in a tabletop mixer with a dough hook. Mix in two eggs and the vanilla, then knead until you have a smooth, springy dough. Cover and leave to rise for at least 2 hrs, or overnight in the fridge, until doubled in size.
Start the mixer again and add the sugar, butter and yolk from the remaining egg. Keep mixing and kneading until the dough is smooth again. Tip in the fruit and knead again quickly. Cover and leave to rise somewhere cool or in the fridge (so the butter doesn’t melt out of the dough) for at least two hours, or overnight in the fridge, until doubled in size.
Line a large six-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Divide the dough into six portions and roll into neat balls. Put a ball in each paper case, cover the tin with a tea towel and leave the dough to rise for 20 mins. Alternatively, chill in the fridge overnight, then leave the dough balls to warm up for 30 mins before baking.
Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Brush the tops of the muffins with the egg white and dust with caster sugar. Bake for 15-20 mins, or until the muffins have risen and are golden brown in colour. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Will keep for three days in an airtight container.