A classic Tuscan 'merenda', snack, or even breakfast item, these are simple, essential doughnut dough that does not call for eggs or milk. You can have them simply rolled in sugar (or cinnamon sugar), or you can also pipe jelly or custard into the centres.
Tips for making bomboloni:
When leaving the dough to rise, it’s important that they have a warm place. If it’s winter and your kitchen is cold, you can even warm up the oven a little, turn it off, then place the bowl in the warmed oven.
If you don’t have a sugar syrup or oil thermometer on hand to test the temperature of the oil, throw a cube of bread into the oil – it should go golden in about 15 seconds. Any sooner, it’s too hot, any longer, it’s not hot enough. Be very careful with these bomboloncini as they fry at a relatively low temperature (about 160ºC), to get that crisp, golden brown exterior and fluffy interior.
Use plenty of vegetable oil, so that the bomboloni float – you will have to flip them over just once.
The bomboloni must be very hot for the sugar to stick to them evenly, so pop them straight into a bowl of sugar as soon as they come out of the hot oil from frying.
Combine all the ingredients (except the vegetable oil and extra sugar) in a bowl and combine until it comes together. You may not need all the water, you may need a tablespoon or two more, this will depend on your flour and environment. Knead the dough on a floured surface until no longer sticky and you have a soft and elastic ball, about 7-8 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours.
Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out the bomboloni with a little glass or a small round cookie cutter – I like one about 2 inches (5cm) in diameter. You can re-roll the off cuts. Continue until you have used all the dough.
Place the superfine sugar in a small bowl.
Deep fry in batches of 3-4 in a small saucepan of vegetable oil at about 160ºC (320F) for 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels for a minute then immediately roll in the bowl of superfine sugar. These are best while still warm.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.