Mardi gras is one of the best holidays ever invented. It is literally a license to drink and eat foods that are bad for you. Technically after this lovely indulgence comes Lent and deprivation as Christ also suffered and was tempted in the wilderness. But the beauty of being an atheist is that I get to pick and chose what traditions I follow! Also, as luck would have it, NPR did a food blog on different kind of donuts for Mardi Gras. Since I was not about to attempt to make beignets, I made an Italian sort of donut: cenci.
1 tablespoon butter, softened
4 tsp sugar
Zest from 1/2 a lemon
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup dry white wine or water
Vegetable oil for frying
Blend together the butter, sugar, and egg with an electric mixer. Once mixed, add the lemon zest, flour, and white wine or water. I used a light vinho verde. Once all the ingredients are mixed together, the dough will be stiff, but sticky (it sounds strange, but it is). Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
Once the dough has sufficiently chilled roll it out, and cut it into strips or squares. Mine were more like squares. Cut a slit in the middle of each one. Then fry them in vegetable oil. I don’t deep fry things. Instead, I poured about an inch of vegetable oil into a frying pan, and put the heat on high. Once the underside and the edges started to brown, flip them over and cook a few more minutes. Place them on a plate covered it paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Sprinkle with lots of powdered sugar while the donuts are still warm and eat!
These were soooo delicious. I liked the lemon zest in particular, it made for a lemony flavor, which is unusual with donuts. Also, the dough wasn’t particularly sweet, so it wasn’t overpowering when you add the sugar. I’m curious if they would taste good with lemon curd instead of powdered sugar, but I’ll have to wait a long time before I can try those. Now, I tried these first with a glass of the wine I cooked with, but that was a bad choice – they did not mix well. Far better tasting with a cup of tea or a glass of milk. Since it was mardi gras, I had to listen to zydeco, in particular Iko Iko (this is not my favorite version, but sometimes you have to make do).