Obviously, that last post was quite a bit more than ‘tongue in cheek’ … as you can probably guess, I’m really looking forward to eating something someone else has cooked as soon as possible.
As (despite requests) Kouzina Karantina won’t be offering a ‘take out’ service anytime soon, I reckoned I owed a recipe, and this is a cracker.
I’m not known for making puddings. Generally speaking, by the time I’ve done a full selection of mezedakia (little sharing plates) for starters and a main course, I’ve lost interest in making something sweet. to finish it all off. But loukoumades – a sort of doughnut- is one Greek dessert that is so supremely delightful, that I absolutely love making it.
To call loukoumades a dessert does feel a bit poncy, to be honest. In the past, there were shops where loukoumades were the only thing on sale, one of the most famous being ‘Aigaion’, on Panepistimiou Street, in Athens. With something like the vibe of a British Chippy, this was a place you popped into because you wanted to eat the best loukoumades in town, not because you wanted to sit and have an elegant pastry. It was functional, unpretentious, and constantly served these exquisite golden balls of freshly fried dough. They were crisp and drenched in honey and absolutely perfect.
These days, the loukoumades tradition carries on – sometimes in a more refined incarnation, as a dessert at a trendy restaurant or patisserie – and I don’t knock them at all. Honeyed loukoumades with a side serving of mastiha ice cream is a combination most likely devised by the gods.
At the forefront of keeping the loukoumades tradition on course is ‘Lukumades’. At their main shop just of Irini Square in Athens, they get the style absolutely right. This is a street food version where you can have your balls in the traditional manner, with honey, cinnamon and maybe a sprinkle of crushed walnuts; or stuffed with any variety of (totally Greek) fillings- lemon, mastiha or ‘bougatsa‘ (aka vanilla) flavour. https://www.lukumades.com/
Anyway, enough of all that. Here’s the recipe. You will never make another pudding.
25gm caster sugar
3 tsp dried active yeast (NOT FAST ACTING)
350 gm plain flour
A pinch of salt
30 ml olive oil
Sunflower oil for frying,
Honey and ground cinnamon to finish.
Preparing the dough
Warm the milk and water – it needs to be just tepid, not hot.
Mix in the sugar and yeast, and leave it for a few minutes until it gets frothy.
Take a large mixing bowl, and put in the flour and salt, and then the olive oil and the milk/yeast mixture.
Mix it all very well until the mixture is smooth. Cover the bowl with some cling film (or a plate) and leave it in a warm place to rise.
After about 30 minutes, uncover and mix it all again and then replace the cover.
Now it needs to rest for at least an hour in the fridge.
Loukoumades are deep-fried, so take a large deep pan and put in plenty of sunflower oil. If you have a deep-fryer, that is a much better option.
I have a sugar thermometer, so I put that in the oil and heat it to 200 degrees. If you don’t, drop a little cube of bread into the hot oil to test that it is hot enough to turn the bread into a crouton really quickly.
To drop the blobs of dough into the oil you need to be very careful – it’s all very hot!
I use an ice cream scoop and a dessert spoon to take small amounts of dough – 2 spoons work well too.
Carefully drop the blobs of dough into the oil and fry until golden. They puff up a lot during cooking so don’t overload the pan.
Drain the cooked loukoumades on kitchen paper and then transfer to a plate and drizzle with honey and cinnamon.
Once you get the hang of these, you can experiment with other toppings and accompaniments. They’re great with a chocolate sauce and ice cream. Feel free to experiment!