Xerotigana: Ikaria's Honeyed Fried Dough Strips
Elsewhere in Greece, these delicate fried pastry strips are called diples (THEE-pless). We call them xerotigana on Ikaria and I have the most vivid memories of my dad, a chef, making these every Christmas. We used to have mounds of them layered precariously on platters and they’d disappear in the course of just a day or two. To find the Greek honey that gives these crunchy pastries their ultimate flavor, visit my online store here.
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup icing confectioner’s sugar
- 1 shot glass brandy or cognac
- Zest of a small orange
- ½ tsp vanilla powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 ½ – 2 cups all purpose flour
- Olive oil to fry
- Honey to serve
- Coarsely ground walnuts
- Ground cinnamon sesame or icing sugar (optional)
1. Beat the egg yolks and egg white in an electric mixer until frothy. Gradually add the butter, sugar, brandy, zest and vanilla powder, beating constantly.
2. Sieve the baking powder and soda with 1 cup flour and slowly add them to the mixture, beating with the mixer on low speed.
3. With a rubber spatula, slowly mix in by hand enough flour to get a smooth and elastic dough. Divide the dough into three equal balls. Sprinkle a working surface with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out each ball to a thin sheet, about as thick as a quarter or one-euro coin. Cut each sheet into strips about 7 cm / 2 1/2 in. wide. Keep covered with a towel so they don’t dry out.
4. In a deep, heavy pan, heat 10-12cm/4 – 6 in. olive or other oil. When it reaches 180°C (356°F), gradually add the strips. Fry for a few seconds only and remove with a slotted spoon or tongs. Strain on kitchen paper and let cool. Serve with hot honey and sprinkle with walnuts and cinnamon.