Although I suspect very few people actually do any fasting in the forty days of Lent any more, most of us still follow the tradition on Shrove Tuesday (Martedi Grasso) of using up our 'rich' foods such as eggs, sugar and milk and pancakes are certainly not the only way to do this. In many European countries, various types of doughnuts are a more common way of celebrating: in Madeira they are known as malasada, in Lithuania, spurgos and in Poland they come in the form of jam-filled pączki where a small amount of alcohol is added to the egg-rich dough, preventing the absorption of too much oil when they are fried.
In Italy, in the weeks leading up to Lent, the eggs/sugar/milk combination takes different forms, from chiacchiere (thin ribbons of deep fried pastry) to castagnole (soft, vanilla-scented mini doughnuts), not forgetting the many different types of fritter. Although I'm not wild about fritters in general, these ricotta-based ones are wonderful - light, luscious, bite-sized clouds.
As these pillowy, fragrant frittelle make a perfect end to a meal, I'm sending them over to Kate at the marvellous What Kate Baked as my Tea Time Treats entry. This is the monthly challenge she hosts along with Karen from Lavender and Lovage and this month's theme is Puddings.
100g plain flour
2 large eggs
80g caster sugar
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
vegetable oil for frying
Put the ricotta in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy. Add all the other ingredients, finishing with the flour. Mix until you have a smooth batter. Leave it for an hour or two.
When you're ready to make the fritters, fill a wide, shallow pan with about 2 cm of oil and heat until a drop of batter sizzles when dropped in.
Fry rounded teaspoons of batter, making sure you don't overcrowd the pan, about 5 at a time is ideal. Quickly flip them over when they are golden brown and leave them to cook for a minute on the other side.
Take them out carefully with a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen towel to absorb some of the grease. Serve straightaway, with icing sugar sprinkled liberally over.