Before I begin with the steps for making my Nonna’s Crostoli recipe, I should mention that she doesn’t measure ingredients or use any gadgets to cook. She bakes with her hands and from her heart. She doesn’t even touch a spoon! For your sake, I did measure the ingredients, but to stay true to my Nonna, my recipe follows her steps.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 and 1/2 cups sugar (divided)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp vanilla
3 tbsp of orange juice
Zest from 1 lemon
Vegetable oil for frying (as needed)

Instructions:

  1. Dump flour onto a clean surface, such as a counter-top. Make into a mound. Then use your fist to create a hole in the centre.
  2. Pour the butter, sugar (1/2 cup), salt, milk, eggs, vanilla, orange juice and lemon zest into the centre of the flour mound and mix with your hand. (If you should have a good mixer or food processor, you can easily mix these ingredients first, and then add the flour)
  3. Knead the mixture into a dough until it resembles a soft, smooth ball. If it’s too sticky, add in more flour. If it’s dry and cracking, add more milk or orange juice.
  4. Separate into two balls and place them in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to flatten the chilled dough until it’s 1/4-inch thick, or to your liking. The flatter, the crispier, and the thicker, the softer and doughier.
  6. Cut the dough into long strips (approximately 1″ x 10″). Tie each strip into a loose knot.
  7. Heat a shallow pot filled with vegetable to approximately 350° F.
  8. Drop 8 to 12 cookies in at a time using tongs or a slotted spoon. Turn them after 1 to 2 minutes or until you can see them getting golden in colour.
  9. In the meantime, line a large bowl with paper towel and have your sugar prepared for dusting.
  10. After 3 to 5 minutes, the cookies should be done. Take them out with a slotted spoon and place them into the lined bowl. Immediately, sprinkle sugar on top while they’re piping hot.
  11. Repeat steps 8 to 10 until all the cookies are made. Serve and enjoy!

Your appliances do matter! Find out the appliances I used – and whether Nonna approved.

Nonna uses her hands to panfry the crostili pastries
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