Family Friendly Recipes

Sfingi (Italian Donuts)

Sfingi (Italian Donuts)
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Sfingi (Italian Donuts)

Sfingi are Italian Donuts and typically served on St. Joseph’s Day.  St. Joseph’s Day is a feast day that is all about giving and sharing.  According to legend, there was a severe drought in Sicily during the Middle Ages.  The villagers prayed for their patron saint, St. Joseph, to bring them rain. They promised that if their prayers were answered, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. The rain came, and the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet in St. Joseph’s honor.

In the past, our family used to host a St. Joseph’s Day table at my Aunt Rosie’s house.  A yearly tradition where food was prepared for weeks in advanced and served to feed the community.  The neighborhood priest would come in to bless the St. Joseph’s altar, the family and the food.  Neighbors stopped in to eat, talk and leave a donation for the church.

St. Joseph’s Day, March 19th, is during lent, so no meat is served.  There are plenty of vegetarian dishes, breads and traditional Italian pastries such as Sfingi, Cannoli and Zeppole.  I tried to get this recipe out before St. Joseph’s Day, but unfortunately I was too busy to do so.

The original Sfingi recipe is from my cousin Josephine (DeGrado) Andrews.  My Aunt Rosie’s daughter.  I have updated it over the years.

Josie DeGrado Andews

Sfingi are fried pieces of bread dough that are rolled in sugar.

Sfingi Ingredients

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the warm water.  Water should not be too cold or hot as that will retard or kill the yeast.  Typically between 105 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit is good.  Add the active dry yeast and sugar and stir to dissolve.  Make sure any yeast clumps are dissolved.  Let the yeast sit and bloom for 5 minutes.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the yeast water.  Mix until combined.  Allow to sit for up to 20 minutes.

While you are waiting, place confectioners sugar in a separate bowl for rolling the donuts in once they are cooled.  Cinnamon sugar is more traditional and could also be used.

Frying the donuts:  Heat the shortening/oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit in a skillet with high sides.  A deep fryer may also be used.  Stir the batter before frying.  Carefully drop approximately 5-6 balls at one time in the hot oil.  Fry for about 2-3 minutes until golden brown, turning them so they brown on both sides.  Drain on paper towels.

Sfingi Cooking

 

Sfingi Draining

Allow to cool and roll in the confectioners sugar or cinnamon sugar.

If you like our family’s Sfingi Recipe, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. If you made it, post your wonderful images on Instagram and tag me. Don’t forget to subscribe and you will be emailed each time I post a new recipe.

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Sfingi (Italian Donuts)

March 27, 2022
: 24 - 28 Sfingi depending on their size

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)
  • shortening/oil for frying
  • confectioners sugar or cinnamon sugar
Directions
  • Step 1 Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Whisk to combine and set aside.
  • Step 2 In a large bowl, add the warm water.  Water should not be too cold or hot as that will retard or kill the yeast.  Typically between 105 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit is good.
  • Step 3 Add the active dry yeast and sugar and stir to dissolve.  Make sure any yeast clumps are dissolved.  Let the yeast sit and bloom for 5 minutes.
  • Step 4 Gradually add the flour mixture to the yeast water.  Mix until combined.  Allow to sit for up to 15 minutes.
  • Step 5 Place confectioners sugar in a separate bowl for rolling the donuts in once they are cooled.  Cinnamon sugar could also be used.
  • Step 6 Frying the donuts:  Heat the shortening/oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit in a skillet with high sides.  A deep fryer may also be used.  Stir the batter before frying.  Carefully drop approximately 5-6 balls at one time in the hot oil.  Fry for about 2-3 minutes until golden brown, turning them so they brown on both sides.  Drain on paper towels.
  • Step 7 Allow to cool and roll in the confectioners sugar or cinnamon sugar.
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