Grandma’s Fried Dough Pastries
Growing up, our family had the same routine every year on Good Friday – we would go to church in the afternoon, go home and relax, then head over to my grandma’s around dinnertime. Her kitchen would be overflowing with her usual Easter fare – pigu, bacon and cheese bread, and this fried dough. The bacon and cheese bread was off-limits until the following day since it had meat, but everything else was fair game. We’d usually order a cheese pizza and then hunker down to watch a movie. Sometimes it was Easter-related, but I distinctly remember one year watching Stephen King’s The Stand. That turned into an entire weekend event and some crazy dreams!
I can remember a huge tray piled high with this fried dough sitting out in her kitchen, and then again at my mom’s on Easter Day. My grandma only ever made it for Easter, and I would waste no time devouring this once-a-year treat.
I don’t remember my grandma making these very often since I was in high school, which may have had to do with her hands becoming weaker. The dough is kneaded and rolled out by hand, and it’s a very stiff dough, which means that it takes some elbow grease! I’m sure you could use a stand mixer to knead it and even a pasta roller to roll it out if you’d like, but I went the traditional method and did everything by hand.
I recall my grandma’s pastries being twisted into little bow-tie shapes. I tried to do it, but they came unraveled while frying and just ended up a little twisted. I wish I could ask her how she did it! We always referred to these as “fried bow ties”.
My grandma served these sprinkled with powdered sugar, which was just the perfect amount of sweetness to balance out the flavors of the fried dough. My husband’s family makes a very similar recipe, only instead of Easter they serve it on New Year’s Day, and in addition to sprinkling it with powdered sugar, they also dip the fried dough in honey.
You know that old family recipes are my favorites, so I was thrilled to finally make my grandma’s fried pastries. An Easter tradition revived!
Grandma's Fried Dough Pastries
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) anise oil
- Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Stir in the oil and anise flavoring and beat or whisk to combine.3. Gradually add the flour, mixing until the dough is stiff enough to be turned out of the bowl.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and pliable, kneading in any remaining flour mixture. Shape into a ball and divide into quarters. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill a wide pan (I used a cast iron skillet - you could also use a Dutch oven) with at least one inch of oil and place over medium-high heat. The oil is hot enough when a little piece of dough dropped into the oil sizzles immediately.
- Working with one portion of dough at a time and keeping the remainders covered, roll it out as thinly as possible and cut into 1½ to 2-inch wide strips. You can twist the dough, if you'd like. Drop the pieces of dough into the oil, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until light brown on the bottom side (1 to 2 minutes), then turn over and fry until the other side is also light golden brown. Remove to a wire rack placed over a double layer of paper towels and allow to drain. Repeat with the remaining dough. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. These can be made up to a week in advance and stored at room temperature in a tin or airtight container.