Ring in 2013 New Year’s with a sweet or savoury Italian potato donut also called zeppole. Zeppole in Italy is a traditional fare that is served on Saint Joseph Day March 19 and during the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.
Last week when I posted my Thai Fish Cakes recipe which is also a great New Year’s finger food I mentioned our mates Marco and Christina and their famous Italian recipe for savoury potato donuts. Being British and all I joke around and call them spudnuts donuts just because that’s what we call potatoes in the UK. I turned their zeppole donut into my Zeppole Spudnut based around the same concept adding my own flavours.
Since moving to Canada and being exposed to Tim Horton’s and the famous Boston Cream donut I always wondered; how do I make donuts? It can’t really be that difficult and with the myriad of donut flavours available you can’t go wrong with a homemade donut recipe.
From what I understand there are 2 types of donuts a cake donut and a yeast donut but heck I’m not a donut connoisseur. Is a donut a cake? Well when you bite into a Boston Cream Donut for example that is a yeast donut which is light and puffy. When you bite into a sour cream glazed donut that is a cake donut. The textures are very different in the mouth and for me they both appeal to my sweet desires.
When Christina and Marco introduced us to this incredibly odd mashed potato donut recipe we thought, ah what the heck and we tucked in. Surprisingly they are amazing! Their donut is crispy on the outside and light and chewy in the middle.
They don’t have to be a sweet donut like the one I will show you today although I have tinkered with the thought of making a baked sweet potato donut. Every time we go to Marco and Christina’s house for dinner we know they will fill the table with Italian food dishes that simply amaze us. You can make a few variations of this Italian fried donut all of which we’ve tried and enjoy. There is also the sfinge which is a baked cream puff also called zeppole.
Zeppole Variations we’ve tried at Christina and Marcos:
- Zeppole filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate
- Zeppole Donuts (the Italian name) which is a plain potato donut which you can keep savoury or roll in granulated sugar
- Italian Potato donuts filled with salty anchovies which is a savoury donut
Donut frying is likely one of the reasons many people shy away from making homemade donuts. Frying with oil can be scary but not if you are prepared and take your time. Always think safety first if you are deep-frying and keep all water away from hot oil. These donuts are best served piping hot then rolled in granulated sugar or left plain. They can easily be stored in the freezer and taken out as needed. We have also taken the dough which we made ahead of time and froze it for a later occasion.
Recipe for Italian Potato Donuts a.k.a Mr.CBB’s Spudnuts
- Huge tinfoil lasagne pan to roll donuts in sugar
- large pot
- measuring cups
- large bowl
- potato masher or ricer
- deep-frying thermometer
- 1 package of active dry yeast
- 5 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (you may not need it all)
- 2.5 cups plain mashed potatoes
- 1 cup warm buttermilk (or make a buttermilk substitute: milk with a tablespoon vinegar) Takes about 5 minutes
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 4 teaspoons of baking powder
- zest of 4 oranges
- 3/8 cup melted butter (6 tablespoons)
- 1.5 teaspoons of ground fresh nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 4 cups granulated sugar divided 2+2
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- Vegetable Oil for deep-frying
- 1/2 cup bench flour for the surface
- Boil potatoes in salted water then mash them or put them through a ricer
- Warm your buttermilk but not too hot or you will kill the yeast then add in your yeast and let stand until activated (bubbly)
- In a bowl add your mashed potatoes, butter, eggs, orange zest and buttermilk yeast mix and combine it all
- On a clean surface add 4.5 cups of flour,2 cups sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix them around to combine then make a well.
- Add the wet ingredients into the middle of the dry and start combining the wet and dry with your hands until it forms a soft dough. Add more flour if you need to as you have 5 1/2 cups but may not need it all. You do not have to knead the dough yet.
- Transfer it all to a large bowl and cover with a tea towel for up to 3 hours
- Turn the bowl onto a floured surface and divide it in half or quarters and knead the dough.
- Start to rip off balls of the dough and roll it on the floured surface until you make a 1 inch rope like shape then twist it to form a ribbon, or leave them as balls or form them into a simple round donut. It’s up to you.
- Get your vegetable oil hot around 360-375 degrees for best results
- Frying takes just a couple of minutes or until golden brown… I suggest timing cooking one then tear it open to make sure it cooked all the way through as everyone has different stoves and deep fryers.
- As soon as they come from the oil toss them into the big tin foil lasagne pan filled with your granulated sugar to coat. Shake off the excess sugar from the donuts.
- Enjoy these hot and with your favourite beverage.
- You can make the same recipe without the orange, cinnamon and nutmeg for a plain zeppole Italian potato donut that is crispy and chewy
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