Sometimes I question the worth of my food-blogging past-time. It takes up a lot of what little free time I have between writing, recipe testing and photographing, not to mention broadcasting what I’ve been up to on social media, which, I must admit, is not my favourite thing in the world. Lately, I’ve been trying to ensure that any of the four tasks above don’t encroach on my time with TT and TP. Despite my efforts, I still find there is something I have to attend to. At the very least, I have drawn the line at serving them a cold plate of pasta at Sunday lunch. Eating mindfully, in good company, are two things I treasure, and no flat lay shot which captures an artificially simulated dining scene should ever be a substitute for that. There’ll always be another more appropriate time for mises-en-scène and photo shoots.
Funnily enough, it only occurred to me a few days ago that our Carnival Cucina Conversations posts were due on 13th February. This date ten years ago just happens to be when TP and I met for the first time. Initially, I had intended to write about my mother-in-law’s battered apple fritters or frittelle di mele for this subject. However, when TP hinted that he’d really appreciate it if I made those sweet pastry fritters which here in Turin go by the curious name of bugie (meaning ‘lies’) with an apricot jam filling, I couldn’t say no given the added significance of this date. Also, apple fritters tend to lose their appeal rather quickly after being fried. I would have to be very quick with my camera so everyone could enjoy them at their prime. Bugie at least can be eaten cold.
What I thought would be a fairly straightforward recipe to test ended up being rather complicated. Yet another blogging-induced headache, or rather injury occurred. While making my first batch, I suspected that dough rolled out to a fine translucency (1-2 mm is ideal for making your standard unfilled bugie that are flaky and shatter in your mouth) wouldn’t support the weight of my teaspoons of jam for very long. Sure enough, when I lowered my agnolotti-shaped parcels into the hot oil, a couple of their bellies split and leaked jam, resulting in a very nasty burn on my thumb. As TP rubbed some ointment on my blistered thumb, he mentioned that many of the bugie ripiene he had eaten in the past have a thicker dough. He suggested we open our kitchen window, get some much needed fresh air after all that frying and go to our local patisserie, Alicino, and the supermarket to observe their bugie ripiene a little more closely.
As it turned out, Alicino made theirs with a finer, flaky dough. Peering through their immaculately decorated vetrina or window display, complete with Carnival masks, we noticed tell-tale signs, however, that the jam had been put in after frying – a large hole at their centres and some jam visibly peaking through. Our local supermarket, Simply, on the other hand, sold two varieties of packaged jam and Nutella-filled bugie. There were the ones that were clearly made in the same fashion as those from Alicino. And, as TP had pointed out earlier, there were ones made with a thicker dough.
The next day, while TT napped, I made another batch, with a slightly thicker dough, about 3-4mm. I’m proud to say that no leakages or nasty kitchen accidents occurred. The off-cuts were rolled out more finely, to make simple unfilled strips of fried pastry. Forgive me for not indicating an exact yield this time round, but, as you can see from my photos, TP and TT got to them before I could count how many I made!
THE RECIPE: To make apricot jam-filled bugie, prepare a dough according to my go-to-recipe by Pellegrino Artusi. On a clean, lightly-dusted work surface, knead until smooth and elastic. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill for at least a half an hour (or better yet, overnight) in the fridge. Remove dough from fridge and divide into two equal parts. Roll out one ball but not as fine and translucently as you would for your standard, flaky, shatter-in-the-mouth bugie until obtaining a square-like shape. Using a serrated pastry-wheel, cut along each side of your square so you have straight edges and a perimeter of about 20cm x 20cm. Working lengthways, place balls of one and a half teaspoons of jam onto your sheet of dough about 2 cm from the edge and about 3.5 cm apart. Using a wet pastry brush, moisten the areas in between your dollops of jam. Fold the sheet of dough lengthways to cover up the jam fillings and line up the edges. Press the sheet of dough down carefully around each dollop of jam, ensuring that not too much air is trapped inside and that edges are sealed properly. Use your serrated pastry-wheel to trim bugie into agnolotti-like parcels measuring about 4.5 cm x 4.5 cm. Repeat procedure until all your dough has finished. Alternately, bring any offcuts together into a smooth and elastic ball, roll until fine and translucent and cut into strips measuring about 2.5cm wide and 10 cm long to make your classic bugie.
Heat enough vegetable oil for deep frying in your pan to 170°C. Carefully lower a few jam-filled parcels into the oil at a time. Don’t overcrowd your pan with too many bugie, as this lowers the temperature. Any unfilled bugie, should be twisted or knotted before lowering into the oil. Fry for on each side until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish lined with paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar while still hot. Serve still warm, or at room temperature, as an afternoon snack for a sweet tooth toddler, or, for the adults, with a glass of a sparkling dessert wine, like Moscato d’Asti or my personal favourite, the ruby-tinted Bracchetto d’Acqui.
Looking for more Italian Carnival inspired recipes? Then, look no further than what my fellow bloggers have prepared for this occasion:
- Carmen has prepared one something befitting a special occasion in summer, parmigiana di zucchine, as she lives in the southern hemisphere where I hail from.
- Daniela is sharing a recipe straight from the streets of Viareggio, the site of one of Italy’s most famous Carnival celebrations with this sublime risotto with cuttlefish and chard.
- Francesca has made saffron and orange-infused zippulas, a Sardinian Carnival specialty. Mmm, I can smell these delights from several hundred kilometres away…
- Flavia is making crostoli, which is one of the many other names which bugie go by in Italy.
- Lisa has prepared strauben, Carnival fritters from Alto Adige for us.
- Last by not least, Marialuisa has also gone down the orange-scented route with her ciambelle or ring doughnuts.