Being that I’m a full continent’s worth of travel from my family there was no Easter/Passover celebration in Seattle as such. We had a nice day out, relaxed about, and I decided I’d make an obscure, unpronounceable, fried Italian cookie for dessert. Typically they come in a neat crown/ring/pretzel sort of shape. That’s unless you’re lazy. If you’re lazy then they can be any shape you like.
Cuddrireddra is the Sicilian word biscuit, and is a tasty and crispy small donut shaped cookie from the town of Delia, in the middle-ish part of Sicily. Local legends say that the cookie, which has the form of a little crown, is a tribute to the noble women of Delia who lived in the medieval fortress that still dominates the town during the war of the “Vespri Siciliani” (1282-1302).
Fairly apt then, that we’re making these on Easter. On Easter 1282, Sicilians under the rule of the Capetian French rebelled. The exact details are contested a bit, what’s generally accepted is that at least one Frenchman harassed a Sicilian woman coming from church. What was said or what was done varies but it seems to have been unpleasant, to say the least. This one act (the French were fairly horrible to the Sicilians on the best of days) led to a rebellion and the death of 3000 French in a six week period, the French losing control of the island in the process.
This dough uses durum flour. A few sources I read when figuring out a this recipe said that this wasn’t Semolina. Which is true. But it’s sort of is Semolina flour. Semolina is a grind of corn meal that’s used to make polenta. It’s also the generic term for the type of flour. So there’s some confusion. My bag of durum flour said semolina right on it. So who knows. Just make sure it says durum flour on it. You should be fine.
You can use dried orange peel if you can get it. I’d go with 2 to 3 teaspoons if you want. If you’re using freshly grated orange zest you could certainly use more. I went with fresh and I zested one whole organic orange. I probably could have used a bit more. Avoid as much of the white layer of the skin as possible when zesting, it’s bitter and won’t make a good cookie.
I tossed every ingredient into the KitchenAid (bar the frying oil obviously) and just let the damn mixer do the work. The flour says four cups. I honestly used probably closer to four and a half. It was too moist without and the original recipe is a scaled down version of a translation of….well you get the picture. I did the last bit of mixing and final adjustments by hand.
Dough made, I went on to try to roll the dough out and make little crowns. Not happening. I like to be authentic and I’d love to honor the folks who seven centuries ago decided to rebel. I don’t have the patience or the skill. Here’s what I can tell you. If you roll them into little balls, they’re small, tasty, and cook quickly. If you make little flat stone looking cookies they’re puff up a little bit more. You can make shapes, designs, try to roll out and make crowns. Go nuts. I predict you’ll end up with a boring but still just as tasty shape.
I used a light vegetable oil (I think canola oil) and a little bit of shortening, just a tiny bit. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F and drop your cookies in. Depending the shape they can take anywhere from two to four minutes to cook. Don’t crowd the pan and try to fry too many at once. The oil will get cold and they’re be soggy. I let mine cool on a wire rack and put a cookie sheet underneath to catch any oil.
For about 2 dozen cookies (that really depends on the size) you’ll need:
- Somewhere Between 3 And 1/2 To 4 And 1/2 Cups Durum Wheat Flour
- 1 And 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 4 Teaspoons Orange Zest (At Least One Decent Sized Orange)
- 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
- 3 Eggs
- 1/4 Cup Red Table Wine
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
- Enough Vegetable Oil to Fry With