Ricotta Fritters

(“Frittelle con Ricotta” – “Sfingi”)


 

The Sfingi or Frittedde are a treat that in my home was served as a snack in the afternoon for merenda. (Being merenda a vague imitation of the English Tea Time at 4.00 PM, or is the tea time a refined version of merenda which goes very much back in time!...).
The first time that the frittelle or Sfingi were cooked in my paternal home, it was in the early 40's, when we moved to Monreale to escape the war. 
Monreale is a little town near Palermo famous for the Cathedral built in the 12th century in Romanesque architecture and displaying a blend of Arab, Byzantine, Norman and Sicilian artistry.
The recipe for the ricotta fritters, "Sfingi' (unrelated to Saint Joseph Sfingi) is easy to make, originally it is made with flour, sugar, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and to activate it as a leavening agent, a little sour milk.
In Monreale, the lady that taught my aunt Bettina (she was in charge of cooking) to make the frittelle, prepared the mixture in no time and without weighting or measuring any of the ingredients.  
The "frittelle" are made all over Sicily, and everybody claims its originality, but being that the ingredients are so common, it explains the popularity of this snack.
Mr. Frank Curcurato, whose paternal ancestors were from Villasmundo, in the province of Syracuse has a recipe for Sfingi (we call frittedde), that if it is not equal, it is very similar to the following.

 

                           Frittelle

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb.  Flour
  • 3 oz.  Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 Lb. Ricotta
  • 6 Large Eggs
  • lemon or orange zest.
  • Vanilla (very small amount) and you can add cinnamon, and or candied fruits.
  • Olive Oil, Canola or Corn Oil for deep frying

 

Preparation
Mix all dry ingredients, add remaining ingredients and blend well with a wooden spoon. Dough should be smooth and the consistency of the pastella.
Cover and rest dough for 20/30 minutes.
Deep fry at 375 degrees, dropping the mixture a few spoons at the time, without crowding the fryer.  To deposit the Sfingi in the oil use the help of another spoon. Deep fry the Sfingi until golden.  Transfer to drain in a dish covered with paper towels.
Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Serve hot or cold.