Struffoli is one of the essential Christmas dishes in our home. This Neapolitan dessert, not dissimilar to Greek / Turkish Lokma where deep-fried dough is immersed in syrup, shows the influences which became the city. Jeweled with candied fruits and sugar covered Fennel seeds and Cinnamon shards, Struffoli bears an incredible resemblance to the national dessert of Tatarstan called Çäkçäk . I like to think there is some connection between Napoli and the Central Asian country, a connection which stretches way beyond the Mediterranean Sea.
500g type ‘0’ flour
4 eggs plus one yolk
Zest of 1 lemon & 1 orange
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp rum OR 1 tsp of aniseed extract
1 pinch of salt
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Sunflower oil for frying
300g set honey
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
Sugar covered aniseeds and cinnamon shards, hundreds and thousands, silver balls
Chopped mixed candied fruit (I use pumpkin, orange peel, pear and cedar.)
Mix sifted flour, sugar, bicarb, and zest together in a bowl. Add butter and mix through with fingertips. In a separate bowl beat eggs together and add rum / aniseed extract. Pour into flour mixture and work together with hands until you have a dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead. When dough becomes smooth and elastic, wrap in cling film and let rest in fridge for at least an hour.
Roll dough into a sausage shape and divide. Take each and roll into long thin lines, about 1cm wide. Cut into squares and roll lightly into balls – roughly the size of hazelnuts – dusting with flour to keep from sticking together. Fry in sunflower oil, turning with a slotted spoon until golden then set aside on kitchen paper to drain.
In another pan heat honey, sugar and water together – when reduced to a syrup, take off heat and add the dough balls, chopped candied peel and hundreds and thousands / sugar coated seeds (reserving some for decoration), mixing well ensuring an even coating.
Arrange on a serving dish and decorate further if needed. Leave to cool and set before serving.
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