Loukoumades is a typical Greek street food dessert, very popular both in and outside Greece. Its history comes from the age of the Ancient Greece: the legend tells that this recipe had been offered as a winner’s reward during the first Olympic Games! These simple pastry balls are deep-fried, then garnished with honey, sesame seeds, and dried fruit. Here the history and the recipe!
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ORIGIN OF LOUKOUMADES
The origin of Loukoumades is incredibly ancient: some legends tell about deep fried honey donuts offered to the winners of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. The first written news of a sweet similar to Loukoumades comes with the Greek-Sicilian Poet Archestratus lived in VI Century BC, and describe deep fried donuts soaked into the honey syrup called at that time Enkrides.
SIMILAR RECIPES INTO OTHER COUNTRIES
Several variations of deep fried pastry balls seasoned with honey and spices are popular in the Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.
In Turkey, the Lokma recipe is very similar to Loukoumades and known since the XIX Century AC. The Lokma are also prepared without any syrup and called Boortsog, typical of the Mongolian cuisine as well.
Another recipe that seems to derive to Lokma and Loukoumades is the Gulab Jamun. This dessert has been probably introduced in India by the Turik during the invasions in the XII Century AC. The Gulam Jamun, made with thickened milk and soaked into the rose water, has been spread quickly into the Indian Subcontinent, and thanks the migrations reached Southern and Eastern Africa and the Caribbean area.
In Italy the most similar recipes to Loukoumades are the Neapolitan Struffoli, little deep-fried balls garnished with honey syrup and candies, typical of the Carnival and Christmas festivities.
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
To prepare the Loukoumades to perfection, you need to follow some steps accurately. Here some useful tips:
FRYING OIL – It is possible to use any kind of vegetable oil you prefer. Personally I think that the sesame oil is the best choice. You want to maintain the temperature of the oil between 340 and 350° F (170 to 177° C). If it is your first time, prepare a little more Lokumades mixture, and test different frying times and temperatures to understand how much to cook the puffs.
HONEY – The most traditional honey to make Loukoumades is Thyme honey. I prefer to soak the donuts into a syrup made with half honey and half water, but some chefs go directly with the garnishing with pure honey.
GARNISH – Besides the honey, it is common garnish Loukoumades with toasted sesame seeds, or chopped walnuts: I love to use both of them!
- • ½ Lb (230 g) bread flour
- • ½ cup (120 ml) milk (optional)
- • 1 (7g) dry active yeast
- • 1 Qt (1lt) Sesame oil
- • 1 cup (340 g) honey
- • 1 tbsp sugar
- • 1 tsp salt
- • 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
- • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts (optional)
- LOUKOUMADES MIXTURE
The liquid part of the Loukoumades mixture can be composed of a half cup of milk and a half cup of water or by just 1 cup of water. To obtain a perfect result, you want the liquid lukewarm.
First of all, pour 1 cup of liquid in a bowl, then add the yeast along with 1 tbsp of sugar, and melt stirring with your hands. Now, sift the flour and pour it a little at a time, stirring and adding 1 tsp of salt on the halfway.
Finally, wrap the bowl and store into the oven at room temperature until the mass doubles its size.
- HONEY SYRUP
When the Loukoumades mixture is well raised and ready to be fried, prepare the honey syrup. Combine a half cup of honey and a half cup of water in a small pot, then stir over medium heat until melted, then turn off the flame and cover with a lid.
- FRYING LOUKOUMADES
Now, pour the oil into a deep pot a bring to 350° F (177° C). To cook the honey puffs to perfection, it is critical maintain the oil temperature between 340 and 350° F (170 to 177° C).
At this point, wet a teaspoon and model a ball of the mixture, then drop the ball into the oil (please be careful of oils slashings!). Fry the ball a little at a time, until nicely golden outside and well cooked inside.
Finally, dry the Loukoumades over paper towels then soak them a couple of minutes into the honey syrup, still hot.
- SERVING LOUKOUMADES
Place the honey puffs on a plate, then garnish with the rest of the honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon powder.
Depending on the preferences, complete with sesame seeds and/or chopped walnuts. Serve immediately.
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