What Italian Carnival treats do you prefer: Frittelle or Galani?
Italian Carnival Cakes: Frittelle and Galani
Carnival is in full swing in Venice and the Veneto Region right now. Everywhere you go, you can see and smell the wonderful treats which are typically prepared during this period.
Mounds of inviting Frittelle filled with cream, or zabaion, or ricotta or Nutella fill the window shelves of all Venetian bakeries and patisseries along side trays packed to the brim with delicious Galani. You cannot just walk in Venice and ignore them!
Frittella: The Queen of the Carnival
The Frittella has a very important place in the history of Venice: the oldest written recipe is given by Bartolemeo Scappi, chef of Pius V. The Venetian historic Giovanni Marangoni writes that in the ‘700 it became the “National cake of the Venetian State”.
So the “fritole or fritoe” (this is how they are called in the local dialect) were considered the national dessert since the days of the Serenissima Republic and you could taste them not only in Venice, but throughout the Veneto and the region of Friuli, up to almost the outskirts of Milan.
The fritole, which held the sceptre of the art of confectionery of the people, were produced in various streets of the city in wooden huts by the “fritoleri”. The fritoleri, as if to emphasize their exclusivity to produce them, in the ‘600 formed an association, composed of seventy of them, each with its own area where they could exercise the exclusive business and pass it on exclusively to their children. The corporation remained active until the fall of the Republic, though the art of “fritoleri” definitively disappeared from the streets of Venice only in the late nineteenth century.
Hanno sempre in sul davanti un pannolino che s’assomiglia al grembial delle donne, che sembra essere venuto allora fuor dal bucato. Tengono in mano un vasetto bucherellato con cui gettano del continuo zucchero sulla mercie, ma con tal atteggiamento che pare vogliano dire: e chi sente l’odore e il sapore di questa che noi inzuccheriamo?
They always have a diaper in the front which resembles a woman’s apron, which appears to have just come out from the laundry. They hold a jar with holes in it with which they throw sugar on the goods, but with this attitude they seem to mean: and who can smell and taste what we are sugaring? “.
This is the way the Venetian nobleman and noted economist Pietro Gasparo Moro Lin descrived these particular artisans of the kitchen.
Giovanni Marangoni wrote:
“cookers and sellers at the same time, kneading the flour on a large table and then frying them with oil, lard or butter, supported by large pans on tripods. Once cooked the cakes were displayed on various and richly decorated plates, of tin or pewter. On other plates, demonstrating the goodness of the product, the ingredients used were exposed: pine nuts, raisins, mixed dried peel.
During the Carnival period, pretty much every family and household in Venice and Veneto, and probably Italy, will prepare at least once few batches of the deliciously puffed fried balls. Go to the end of this article for our recipe of Frittelle alla Nutella – click here for our Frittelle alla Crema and Frittelle alla Veneziana.
But the throne of the best cake for Carnival is often challenged by another tasty treat: the Galani.
Galani: the Kings of the Carnival
With origins much older than Frittelle, the Venetians have no doubt in recognizing the Republic of Venice as the birthplace of these sweets! But the Tuscans swear that it is their invention and call them “cenci” (rags) or “chiacchiere” (chatter). And so, every region, christen them with their own name claiming in this way the paternity: from the “lattughe” (lettuce) in Brescia, to the “bugie” (lies) in Piedmont and Liguria, from the “frappe” or “flappe” in Umbria to the “sfrappole” in Romagna. All these names for one very sweet thin ribbon-shaped dessert with very ancient origins.
In fact it is thought that, to trace the origin of these sweets, we should look back to the times of the Romans, who, during the Spring Festival, used to prepare them with the same mixture with which they made lasagne. Some cakes very similar to the modern galani, fried in pork fat and then covered with honey, known as crostoli. Go to the end of this article for our recipe of Galani.
The best part of preparing either the Frittelle or Galani, is, that many times, you get to prepare them with your family. mother and daughters, grandmas and grandchildren or even the all family members (where usually the women prepare them, and the men eat them, the Italian way!).
So, what is it going to be: Frittelle or Galani?
Feel free to leave a comment and tell us if you used one of our recipes how it turned out!
And don’t forget that all our recipe can be taught during our cooking classes in Venice: Book Now the chance to learn to cook with authentic Venice mamas!
Frittelle alla Nutella
Ingredients for about 15 large frittelle:
150 gr plain flour
250 ml of water
60 gr of butter
50 gr of granulated sugar
oil for frying
Ingredients for Nutella filling:
4 large spoons of Nutella or chocolate spread
200 gr. single cream
- First prepare the dough for the frittelle.
- Place the water, the sugar, the salt and the butter in a saucepan and bring to boil. As soon as it boils and the butter has melted, add the flour in one go and mix fast very well keeping the pan on high heat – be careful not to burn the mixture. As soon as the mixture pulls away from the pan remove from the heat. Leave it to stand while it cools down.
- Prepare the filling: place 4 the Nutella in a large bowl and add the single cream. Mix well.
- Now take the frittelle mixture, add one egg at time mixing extremely well before adding the next one.
- Heat up the oil – to check when it is ready, take a wooden spoon and insert it in the pan. If bubbles appears around the spoon, then the oil is ready.
- Helping yourself with two tablespoons add large balls of mixture to the oil (not too many at time). The balls will start to blow and increase in size. Remove as soon as they are nice and golden.
- Once you have cooked all the frittelle, leave to cool down completely.
- Fill a sac a poche with the Nutella.
- Fill each frittella with a shot of filling
- Dust the frittelle with icing sugar and serve.
Galani by Cook In Venice
Ingredients for 3 large trays of Galani:
400 gr. plain flour,
60 gr. sugar,
50 gr. butter (must be left at room temperature for at least 20 minutes),
1 glass of white dry wine,
1 pinch of salt.
- Take the flour and the salt and sieve them directly on the working area, making a well in the centre.
- Add the sugar, then the butter reduced in small bits.
- Rub the butter into the sugar and flour.
- Now add the 2 eggs and at first beat them into the four and butter, then slowly start pushing the flour into the eggs, mixing everything well.
- Now start adding a bit of wine at the time , making sure each time it is well absorbed by the pastry.
- Keep working the pastry with your hands for at least 10 minutes, banging it on the working area as you would with the bread dough. This helps the pastry rising. Carry on working until the pastry is smooth and elastic (as shown on the picture).
- Leave to rest covered with a kitchen towel for at least 1 hour.
- Once the hour has passed, start heating up your oil.
- In the meantime take a small piece of the dough (the size of a walnut) and roll ou the pastry very very thinly, less then 1mm, just like a sheet of paper.
- Using a pizza cutter (we use Cuterina by U-Cook Italia), cut out some rectangular shapes ( 1 cm x 4 cm circa or smaller) and make a little cut inside each of them (this will stop the strips from exploding in the hot oil).
- As soon as the oil is boiling (check this by placing the handle of a wood spoon in it – if bubbles appear around it the oil is ready) take 2 or 3 strips (not more otherwise they will burn) and put them in the oil.
- Cook on each side for about 5-10 seconds (they will bubble up) and remove (they must be a nice pink colour, not brown).
- Place on some kitchen paper and let to rest. Keep rolling and frying until the dough is finished.
- When all Galani are completed place into a nice tray and cover with icing sugar.