Last month I cooked (and hosted) a Cretan dinner as part of my Greek Supper Club events and the dessert I chose was a Cretan specialty called Kserotigana. The dough is similar to Laconian diples but they look a little different.
Diples are folded quickly in the hot oil with two forks and one has to practice this technique before becoming efficient in making tons of them. Kserotigana are not as hard as you twirl the dough around your fingers then stick a fork in the middle of the twirled dough then fry them.
Kserotigana take a little practice but they are easier to make and they are addictive…I could eat a whole plate! Much like Diples, Kserotigana are traditionally served at weddings but I think anytime is a good time.
Kserotigana from Crete (Ξεροτήγανα κρητικά)
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Tsikoudia/Raki/Tsipouro (grappa)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup warm water
1 large egg
olive oil for frying
For the syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 strips of lemon peel
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup honey
1 cup coarsely ground walnuts
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Into your stand mixer add your flour, salt, Tsikoudia, olive oil and water and mix using the paddle attachment until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky (add a bit of water if too dry and add flour if too wet).
- Divide into 6 pieces and roll into balls and cover well with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Now take out your pasta maker. Take a ball of dough and dust it well with flour and flatten with a rolling pin. Pass through your pasta machine from the widest setting, fold in half and pass through again. Repeat as you decrease the increments on your machine until you’ve rolled out a thin pastry sheet that should be about 80cm and approx. 8-10 cm. width.
- Use a pastry wheel to cut in half lengthwise then cut again in half along the width (you should now have four sheets, each being about 40 cm X 4cm). Cover with a slightly dampened towel.
- Place a large, deep pot on your stovetop and add 3-4 inches of olive oil (no more than halfway filling your pot) and heat to 365F.
- Take a pastry sheet and wrap once around two fingers, second wrap around four fingers then press/stick the outer end into the rolled dough so that it doesn’t unravel when frying.
- While still holding the roll in one hand, stick a fork into the middle and once the oil is hot, place the roll downward with the fork and leave it stuck in the oil for 10 seconds then twist the fork a couple of turns then remove the fork. Fry until the dough turns to a light golden colour/
- Remove with a slotted spoon/spider and reserve on a paper lined baking sheet. Roll out the remaining 5 balls of dough, cut as per step #4 and repeat making rolls and fry until all your dough balls have been formed and fried into Kserotigana.
- To make the syrup, add sugar, water, cinnamon stick and lemon peel and bring up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for another 6 minutes. Add the lemon juice and honey and take off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Arrange another large baking sheet with a wire rack on top. Now begin the process of dipping the Kserotigana in the hot syrup…use a slotted spoon to submerge/plunge and invert them. Allow the Kserotigana about 3 minutes in the syrup before removing to the wire rack. Repeat with remaining Kserotigana.
- Into a bowl, mix walnuts, sesame seeds and cinnamon and top Kserotigana with mixture. Serve warm or room temperature or cover with plastic wrap and keep in a cool, dry place for up to 3 days.
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