We all have a special food that instantly brings to mind the holidays. It could be pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, or your dad's stuffing. For me it's Loukoumades (loo-koo-MA-thess), or Greek Doughnuts. Whenever my mom makes them I know it's a special occasion. But since my mom spent the holidays in exotic ports (aka Sparta) this year I decided to give them a try myself. Although I've never made them before (actually, I've never even deep fried before), I was at least armed with my mom's recipe and a hefty dose of enthusiasm.
The batter before rising. It should be somewhere between the consistency of pancake batter and bread dough. Not too thick or thin, but a little sticky.
The batter after rising:
When you drop the batter into the oil it should immediately float to the surface. I learned fairly quickly that you really only need a small spoonful of batter for each doughnut; otherwise, you end up with over-sized, misshapen loukoumades (you want them to be more or less round, like the ones in the photo). But either way, they still taste good!
Drain on paper towels before transferring to a serving dish. Another reason they're only served on special occasions--they're not exactly health food ;)
The honey syrup bubbling away.
To serve, pour syrup over the loukoumades. Sprinkling with ground cinnamon is a must. Once the syrup's on them, they only keep a couple of hours (at most), so get eating! You can reheat them in the oven (350F for about 15 minutes); they're not as good as when fresh but still pretty good.
Instead of soaking the whole batch in syrup you can also pour a little syrup and cinnamon onto a plate and add a few plain loukoumades, stirring to coat. They're extra crispy this way and last a little longer as well.
(Pota is my mom)
These are lovely as a snack or for breakfast. Sorry for the lack of precise measurements but this is definitely old-school cooking!
2 highball glasses (tall drinking glasses) warm water
3 soup spoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 soup spoons vegetable oil (if you want to be completely authentic, use olive oil)
Add together, then mix in well:
2 to 3 highball glasses all-purpose flour
Let mixture sit until doubled in bulk. Stir. Pour cooking oil several inches deep in a saucepan. Heat over high heat, then reduce to medium. Test by dropping a small amount of batter into the oil: if it floats and bubbles form around it, the oil is hot enough. Drop batter by scant tablespoons into the oil--don't crowd the pan. Fry, turning, until golden and crispy. Remove to paper-towel lined dish.
2 cups honey (unpasteurized--use the good stuff)
3/4 to 1 cup water (depending on whether you like a thicker or thinner syrup)
Simmer together in small saucepan for 3-4 minutes. Keep warm.
To serve: Place loukoumades in serving bowl. Pour syrup over. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Eat while still warm. To help them keep longer, instead of drenching the whole batch in syrup you can pour syrup and cinnamon onto loukoumades as you eat them, leaving the rest plain until needed.
To reheat, warm in oven at 350F for about 15 minutes.
Serves 8 or more.
All photos by Domicile. Click to enlarge.
Wishing you all a happy New Year!