The ‘pizzelle fritte’, also known as ‘pizza fritta’, are small fritters made of pizza dough and topped with fresh tomato sauce. They’re a delicacy from Campania, in Southern Italy, and believe us: there’s nothing better than strolling down the streets of Naples on a hot summer day and snatching a bite off of your freshly fried pizzelle! After all, Naples is indeed the homeland of pizza…
Like many of the best recipes on this blog, the pizzelle have humble origins. They used to be prepared by the poorest families in Naples, those who lived in the ‘bassi’: small one-room apartments with direct access to the street, where the door was the only opening towards the outside and whole families often had to share a double-bed. When we prepare this recipe, we always take a moment to think of how lucky we are to be cooking in a proper kitchen!
It takes a while for the dough to rise, but these pizzelle are otherwise very easy to prepare and will become your guests’ favourite starter as soon as you bring them to the table.
Makes: 14-15 pizzelle | Preparation time: 20 mins + 3h to rise | Cooking time: 1 h
- ‘0’ or ’00’ flour or strong white bread flour: 520 g
- Tomato sauce or ripe cherry tomatoes or whole plum peeled tomatoes, San Marzano variety: 400 g
- Salt: 15 g
- Brewer’s yeast: 6 g
- Water: 300 ml
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): 3 tbsp
- Basil: as needed
- Parmesan, grated: to taste
- A pinch of sugar
- Seed oil (for deep-frying)
Sift the flour and place it in a bowl along with the sugar and the salt. Dissolve the yeast in about half of the water and then add it to the flour.
Tip: Make sure to use only lukewarm water to kickstart the yeast! If the water is too hot or too cold, the yeast will die and your dough will stay flat.
Start kneading the dough and pour in the rest of the water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, little by little. Work the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it has an even texture, then place it back in the bowl and cover it with clingfilm or a clean kitchen cloth. Leave the dough to rise for about 3 hours or until it has doubled in volume.
Tip: Put the bowl in a warm and dry place, away from drafts: a switched-off oven with only the light on is a good place for the yeast to work undisturbed.
Whilst the dough is rising, you can start preparing the tomato sauce: peel the garlic and brown it in a pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Salt to taste and remove the garlic.
Once the dough has risen, break it into smaller pieces (50-60 g each) and flatten them with your hands. The flattened dough discs should have a diameter of more or less 10 cm, and the pizzelle will look nicer on the serving plate if they’re irregular and of slighlty different shapes.
Heat up the seed oil and deep-fry only 2 or 3 pizzelle at a time to make sure the oil’s temperature remains constant.
Tip: It’s important to make sure that the oil has heated up to the right temperature before deep-frying the pizzelle. If you have a kitchen thermometer at hand, simply start when the oil reaches 180°C – otherwise, take a bite-sized chunk of dough and dip it in the oil: the oil is ready when small bubbles forms around the surface of the dough.
Use a skimmer to remove the pizzelle from the oil and place them on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Top each pizzelle with a spoonful of tomato sauce, some grated Parmesan and a few fresh basil leaves.
Serve the pizzelle straight away, when they’re still warm.
Tip: Bored of Parmesan? Try some aged ricotta or cheddar instead!
Looking for a vegan – dairy free version? Look here: https://www.buteisland.com/products/grated-sheese/grated-hard-italian-style/