Last night, I made pizza (scroll down) for the three of us, and while making the dough, I suddenly remembered these little balls of fried pizza dough dusted with cinnamon and sugar, served with vanilla ice cream that I used to get at a little Italian place in San Diego. I had thought they were called zeppole (pronounced zeppoli), but when I Googled 'zeppole' what I found wasn't quite the same.
Whatever those tasty little bites were called, I decided to make them for the guys as a little treat. The result was rather like a doughnut, but a little more substantial and with a slightly crunchy outer and soft, chewy inside. Sprinkled liberally with cinnamon and sugar and served on their own, they were quite lovely.
What surprised me was how quick they were to make, since I had already made the dough. If I was going to make the dough specifically for this purpose, then I would replace the olive oil with melted butter.
I used one quarter of the dough I'd made, which meant about 100g per person. That doesn't look like much when you've got it in your hand, but the little balls really puff up in the hot oil.
To serve 4, takes about ten minutes if you've already got the dough
400g proofed pizza dough (If you haven't got your own, store-bought refrigerated would be fine)
500ml (16oz) vegetable oil
2 tbsp fine caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon mixed with the sugar
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan until it reaches 170 degrees (340F) or so that a tiny piece of dough sizzles well when dropped in.
Take a 100g (4oz) piece of dough and form into a rough sausage shape and hold in one hand,
pinching off pieces of the dough and drop them into the oil in quick succession. Don't worry about making them round, they'll kinda round themselves when they puff up in the oil. Any little bits that stick out become a little crisper and are really lovely.
Fry for about a minute, until golden brown on the underside, then flip them over in the oil and finish the other side. Remove with a slotted spoon to some paper towel and allow them to drain for a few secs then pop your next batch of dough in to fry before moving them to a plate and shaking plenty of the cinnamon sugar over the top.
Next time, I'm going to plan ahead and make a little vanilla or pistachio ice cream to serve along side.