Every country has desserts based on fried dough. Italians have crostolis, Greeks have diples, the French have beignets, and Spaniards, particularly from the South, have pestiños. Well, in truth Spain has a lot more than pestiños. Churros are our most commonly known variety of fried dough sweets, and we also have buñuelos, porras and rosquillas, but pestiños have a history of their own. They are most common in Andalucía, where they can be purchased year round, although they are usually reserved for Christmas and Holy Week. As we all know, anything fried is almost always delicious. What I love about pestiños in particular is that they have a hint of anisette, which I believe really elevates their taste. It is common practice to prepare the oil for the dough by first cooking matalahúva, or anise seeds in the oil, and then removing them prior to adding the oil to the flour. However, in this recipe we are simply going to add anisette into the dough to flavor it. Some pestiño recipes also call for anjojolí, or sesame seeds, but I have opted to make this one without it. I hope you like them!
- 1/2 cup of olive oil (to make the pestiño dough)
- 1 cup of olive oil (to fry the pestiño dough)
- 1 lemon or orange rind
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 oz of white wine
- 2 oz of anisette
- 1 cup of honey
- Oil for the dough: Begin by heating the 1/2 cup of olive oil over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, lower the heat and add the lemon rind. Remove the rind when it begins to turn light brown.
- Preparing the dough: Combine flour with oil in which you cooked the lemon rind, white wine and anisette. Mix; knead it until it becomes a round dough ball. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour. Let the dough ball rest in bowl for 1/2 hour.
- When the dough has rested, roll it out on a flat, floured surface. The width of the dough should be 1/4 inch. Cut the dough into long rectangular strips. You can roll the strips, fold each end in toward the middle or fry them flat. For this recipe I rolled them up.
- Begin heating the frying oil in large frying pan. When oil starts to boil, lower the flame to avoid burning the pestiños. Start adding the pestiños one at a time, carefully, making sure not to crowd the frying pan. Take them out, one at a time, when pestiños become golden brown. Place on a plate with paper towels to remove any excess oil.
- Drizzle the pestiños with the honey, and let them sit about 30 minutes before serving them.
- You can use other oils to make the pestiños, but what´s the point? Remember, they come from the land of olive trees!
- You can substitute the honey with simple syrup, if you like. You make the simple syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water. To give it a little extra flavor, add a teaspoon of anisette or aguardiente.
- Pestiños can also be sprinkled with powdered sugar or cinnamon.
- You can have pestiños with coffee, but try them with anisette or jerez (sherry). Try to find a good Spanish anís? It´s worth the effort!