Jan 7, 2011

Crema Fritta ~ Fried Pastry Custard

I thought Rome held the record of most varied deep-fried foods. Then I learned about American state fairs.

I found out that in Indiana they like to fry Twinkies, cookie dough, brownies and butter. That in Texas, besides deep frying Coca Cola, it's common to slather fried bacon with chocolate, and eat it on a stick. But the worst was discovering about the Luther Burger: an artery-clogging horror which features a fried black Angus all-beef patty, melted cheese, and two strips of fried bacon, all tucked inside a sliced glazed doughnut. To enhance the sweet-and-savory effect, in some states, the sandwich is served with a side of honey sauce.

For my liver's honor, I felt compelled to retaliate with something more elegant, and still typical of Italy's deep-fry culture.


Fried pastry custard is a Veneto specialty, and standard Carnevale street food. But many other Italian regions fry custard and serve the quirky non-sweet pastry as dessert, or not. Folks in Bologna in fact include it alongside deep fried artichokes, breaded potato croquettes, diced mozzarella, battered cauliflower, julienned zucchini, onion and apple rings, tiny lamb chops, Mortadella cubes, sweetbreads, chicken croquettes, and other selected fried foods in their Fritto Misto (savory mega-variety fried platter particular to many Italian regions).


Here is the recipe for Crema Fritta, the way they make it in Verona:

200 g (1 cup) sugar
1 liter (1 quart) whole milk
8 egg yolks
200 g (1 cup) flour, sifted
50 g (1/4 cup) cornflour
Zest from 1 organic lemon
1 packet vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Vegetable oil for frying

For dredging:
4 egg whites
150 g (3/4 cup) breadcrumbs


Put the milk, lemon zest and vanilla in a heavy bottomed pot, and bring to a boil.

In a bowl, whisk together 5 egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornflour. Stir in the seasoned milk in one constant thin stream, stirring with a wire whisk. Move the cream back to the stove and add a pinch of salt; keep the mixture simmering as you gently stir, until it thickens.

Pour the custard in an oven pan lined with plastic wrap, and let it cool completely; during this time it will solidify.
Cut the now rubbery custard in 1-inch diamonds; dip them in the egg whites and dredge with breadcrumbs.

Fry the custard rhombi in piping hot oil a few at a time, turning them , until evenly golden and crispy on both sides. Blot briefly on absorbant paper and serve warm.


Crunch.

13 comments:

  1. Sounds like the perfect fried nibble!

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  2. sounds amazing! yep we have a restaurant here in portland, or, that has a voodoo doughnut burger like you describe. ew.

    only thing? i'm betting those things need a warning as biting into deep fried custard sounds both heavenly And that i might burn my tongue off!

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  3. mmm, sounds yummy - now, when are you going to make me some? ;-) xx

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  4. You Win! One bite and You win, E. These look delicious.

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  5. Janie~
    It is, it is!! ANd whe paired to savory fried things it's heavenly too.

    ~~~

    EcoGrrl~
    They are best eaten warm, not piping hot, in fact. Glad you enjoyed this.

    ~~~

    Nicky~
    Whenever you want! As long as I can bring them myself!

    ~~~

    Rosaria~
    These could pair well with Zeppole, remember? ;)

    Ciao

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  6. Eleonora !

    Every time I need a mop afterwards, because my mouth is watering so much...

    :-)

    And I think you hit it right on the money, the difference between you and the other side of the ocean is summed up in one word :

    elegance...

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  7. Since I have lived in Indiana most of my life, I thought you might want to know that you missed one of the craziest Indiana County Fair foods. Deep fried candy bars, snickers to butterfingers. Unfortunately, I have never met a deep fried anything I have not loved!

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  8. Owen~
    Merci, my friend. Same applies to you...

    ~~~

    Calamity Kate~
    Oh gosh, yes I totally forgot about fried candy!! My cousins (lived in Indiana too) told me about fried Mars bars... UNBELIEVABLE

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  9. Eleonora, I have learned something from visiting your blog. I eat first so I am not hungry. Oh my goodness! I have goosebumps just reading about you talk about food! Your photographs are awesome. May the new year bring you a lot of blessings.

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  10. Ces~
    Aw, thank you so much! You are too kind. Please come visit often on an empty stomach, or not–you're always welcome here. Ciao!

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  11. i love the MN state Fair - but I don't need my cheese fried or my pickles or my meats and they do it all. However this custard takes the cake. Now, THAT I would like fried. Kudos!

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  12. Claudia~
    GRAZIE!! Try making some soon and let me know. Hugs

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  13. Oh. My. I stumbled across a great homemade pudding/custard recipe and have been making it almost nonstop as a much lower fat option for desserts and experimenting with different flavors - Now I have something else to do with it....Yum!!

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