Sfinci are fried dumplings of ricotta that Sicilians eat for breakfast and they make delicious snacks for summer or outdoor eating. You can flavour them with vanilla as they did in Noto and shake sugary cinnamon over if that is your fancy. I like mine dipped in honey! They are tastier and fresher than doughnuts but just as naughty…
Tucking into cafe size Sfinci in Noto
Ingredients list: Makes about 8 to 10 Sfinci
- 6 eggs
- Sugar, 125 g
- Ricotta, 500g
- Flour, 250g
- Baking powder, 4 Tbsp
- Vanilla pod, to taste
- Honey, 60 ml or 60 g of sugar mixed with 1 tsp of cinnamon
Beat the eggs with the sugar until it turns pale yellow.
Add the ricotta, followed by spoonfuls of flour, baking soda and scrapes of the vanilla pod. Make sure it is all blended in.
Use a cast iron pan to heat the oil bring it to a low frying temperature.
Drop big dollops of batter into the oil and leave it to brown on both sides. Keep the fire low so it does not burn too fast! Do check that they are moist inside but not too runny. My children turned their noses up at a runny batch and I had to fry them all over again… The things we do for love…
Serve at rooms temperature with a dip of sugared cinnamon and a dip of honey, to choose from. These treats are deliciously indulgent and very very addictive.
Details of a Sicilian window
In Sicily, we ate cakes for breakfast! Sometime, our plate looked liked a poem in praise of gluttony: In such a poem all the synonymous of “cake” would have to be used! Eclairs, marbled cakes, profiteroles, biscuits, tart, millefeuille, brioche…
This recipe is for Judy who enjoys cake for breakfast – and anybody looking for an almond-free version of my Sicilian Lemon cake. Here, I have simply replaced the almond with ground coconut and the result is a much more textured cake, a bit similar to a carrot cake, but with the intensely citrussy flavour of the sicilian lemons…
I think it works even better than the almond version: Coconut and lemon being such a winning pairing… It almost makes you glad to be almond-intolerant!
A sicilian breakfast in NOTO
Delicious sandwiched with lemon cream
- Butter, 50g
- Sugar, 280g
- Eggs, 6
- Fine polenta, 150g
- Ground coconut, 200g
- Baking powder, 1 and 1/2 tsp
- Honey, 2 Tbsp
- Zest of 5 lemons and juice of one
- Ricotta, 300g
Pre-heat the oven to 160º.
Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy and add the eggs one at a time.
Zest each lemon carefully – better to choose organic and unwaxed lemons if you can. Juice one of them and keep the others for a Granita de limone.
Fold all the remaining ingredients and pour into a lined and buttered cake pan.
If you have some lemon extract, you can add a few drops for a more intense lemon taste. Bake for just over an hour at 160 °. It is ready when the middle is still ever so slightly wobbly. The result is a dense and intense cake with a chewy texture. Irresistibly lemony… You can do a sandwich cake if you bake it in two sandwich tins and spread some lemon curd whipped with mascarpone in the middle! Try this for a posh party version!
Serve cold with yogurt or on its own.