Venetian Carnival Fritters
Prep Time: 1.5 hours Cook Time: 15-20 mins
30 grams (¼ cup) raisins (golden or dark)
30 ml (2 Tablespoons) grappa
200 ml (scant 1 cup) milk (whole or 2%), warmed to 100°F to 110°F
25 grams (2½ Tablespoons) active dry yeast
250 grams (scant 2 cups) 00 flour or all-purpose flour
30 grams (2 Tablespoons) granulated sugar + more for coating
30 grams (¼ cup) pignoli (pine nuts)
1 large egg
Zest of 1 small orange or lemon
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour the grappa over them. Set aside for the raisins to soak and rehydrate.
Make the sponge: Place the milk in a mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast, whisking well to incorporate the yeast into the milk. Add in 50 grams (¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons) of the flour and mix in to incorporate. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for half an hour. The mixture will bubble as the yeast activates.
While the sponge is resting, drain the raisins through a colander, reserving the grappa in a small bowl. Place the raisins on a paper towel and pat dry. Transfer the raisins to the bowl of remaining flour and toss to coat. This will prevent the raisins from sinking to the bottom of the fritters as they fry.
After the sponge has rested, uncover the bowl and add in the remaining flour-raisin mixture, sugar, pine nuts (if using), egg, orange zest, and reserved grappa.
Use a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate all the ingredients until a thick batter forms, being careful not to over-mix. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm and draft-free area for 30-45 minutes to rest. After the batter has rested, it will be doubled in size, bubbly, and airy.
Line a baking sheet with 2-3 layers of paper towels and set near the stove. Fill a small bowl with some granulated sugar and set it near the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Place a serving platter next to the bowl of sugar.
Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or cast iron skillet over medium heat, pour in the oil, and heat the oil until it registers 350°F on an instant read thermometer. Use a spoon or a cookie scoop to drop the batter carefully into the hot oil in large dollops, being careful not to over-crowd the pan. You want to make the fritters approximately the size of golf balls, or a touch larger.
Use two forks or chopsticks to flip the fritters–they will only need to be flipped once because they cook quickly. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the fritters onto the baking sheet lined with paper towels. Get more fritters cooking in the hot oil right away. Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the oil from burning.
Take the fritters that have just finished cooking and turn them a couple of times over the paper towels to dry off any excess oil, then drop them one-by-one into the bowl with the sugar and toss to coat. Keep a close eye on the fritters that are frying. Place the sugar-coated fritters on the serving platter and serve warm. Buon Appetito!