Yes, this is a double whammy because you are getting another donut post. After Tom laid praises on the Sweet Potato Donuts, I made the mistake of telling him, that the Bombolini would have been ten times better and he totally dared me to prove it.
He knows I cannot resist dates. And I totally fell for it too.
I still stand behind my statement before that donuts are not one of my favorite sweets. But the Bombolini holds a special place in my taste memory.
See, I have been eating these pillows of fried dough, filled with cream, since I can remember. In Venezuela, my mother would buy a big bag of them as a special treat from our local bakery as I was growing up. My sister and I would gobble them up in seconds, licking our sugar-coated fingers and then wait patiently for the next special occasion to have them.
When I moved to Italy I realized that the Bombolini that I grew up with were nothing compared to the original. I tasted my first “Italian” Bombolini on a trip to Sienna. We were there to see the Palio and one of my Italian friends dragged me to a local pasticcieri (bakery) called Peccati di gola, which translated means “Sins of Gluttony” (fitting don’t you think?). I don’t know if my friend planned it, but it happened that we got lucky - they had just been made, which meant they were still a bit warm from the hot oil and filled with the cool pastry cream. Upon my first bite, I was hooked. During my stay in the city, I found excuse after excuse to stop at every pasticcieri in town to have them as a treat for any time of the day (I called it research). They say that taste can bring back a memory and they are not wrong. I can close my eyes now and my mouth still waters as the memory of how light and sweet they were when I took a bite and how I still lick my sugar-coated fingers at the end.
So when donuts came up in our Gutsy Cook Club as an option, I did my research and of course came up with different recipes to try. At the end I went with La Mia Vita Dolce recipe. Grace took the time to explain each step of the way and her pictures were very informative as well. A win-win, when you are going into unknown territory.
The biggest tip I can give you with these? Make them early in the day, because the recipe has them “rise” twice and each over 2 hours. Which means, that four hours are going to be “dead” hours during this recipe. For someone like me, that hates waiting for things to get done, is very difficult to do. Another tip is to make them by hand, like Grace mentions on her own post, they came out so much better. The bad thing? These can be very, very sticky at the beginning, so coat your hands with flour as you work the dough and like magic, it will come together - trust the process. Another trick is during the frying of the bombolini, make sure you spoon hot oil over the disk once they are submerged in the oil. This will make them puff up.
By the time I made the first batch I was tired of the whole thing and left them plain - no filling, just a good dusting of sugar on the outside. They were so good, but they were missing the filling. So, I crumbled and whipped up some of the vanilla cream and made another batch, which I promptly filled up to the gazzu with cream.
Plain were good. Filled were much, much better.
While I enjoyed making these, I still could not get over the four hours lost due to waiting on the dough to “rise”. I’m thinking next time (and there will be a next time) I’m going to try Paula’s, from Bell’Alimento, recipe, which seems much faster and it has the added goodness of having the filling be Nutella. One less step, since you don’t have to do the pastry cream.
I won the dare. Once Tom took a bite of one and he declared them the winner. “The sweet potato ones are almost like fritters, these are donuts!” I for one loved them. Were they just as good as the “originals?” No they were not. But they sure came close. They were light, warm and the vanilla cream was sweet and smooth and my fingers were sugar coated. My food memory came back all at once and much sweeter this time too.