Galani - Fried Carnival Pastries from Veneto
(Makes about 50)
Fried pastries are a traditional Italian dessert served during Carnival, which is the two week period of festivities before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, the 40 days before Easter. Every region of Italy has its own version and name for these sweet fried pastries; chiacchiere, frappe, cenci, bugie, and galani are just a few of the names. The galani of Verona and Venice are particularly associated with carnival time, when they are stacked up in the windows of pastry shops in beautiful displays. What distinguishes the Veneto’s galani from those of other regions is their shape - large rectangles with a slit in the middle. Soave, a dry white wine from the area is used in many versions while other areas add locally produced grappa in the dough. The dough should always include wine or some kind of liquor, as it causes the pastry to become very light and crisp when fried. It is also important to roll out the dough as thin as possible. The best pastries are so delicately thin that they are vaporoso, or like vapor. Galani are quite addictive, so if you try one you probably won’t be able to stop eating them.
1-1/2 cups flour, divided
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Canola oil for frying
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
To make the dough in a food processor:
Put one cup of flour and the butter in a food processor. Pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flour. Add the egg, yolk, sugar, salt, and wine; pulse to combine the ingredients. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, until a smooth dough forms. The dough should come together into a ball and be only slightly sticky. You may not need to add all of the remaining flour.
To make the dough by hand:
Put one cup of flour into a bowl. Use a pastry blender to incorporate the butter into the flour. Add the egg, yolk, sugar, salt, and wine. Use a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, until a smooth dough forms. Work the dough with your hands to form a smooth, pliable dough.
Transfer the dough to a floured pastry board. Roll the dough out as thin as you can - the thinner, the better. Use a fluted pastry wheel or a knife to cut the dough into 2 x 3-inch rectangles. Make a small slit in the center of each rectangle; this helps them fry evenly.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 350 - 375 degrees F. Add the dough rectangles to the hot oil, a few at a time; don’t crowd them. Fry, turning them over a few times, until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes. Use a wire skimmer to transfer the fried pastries to paper towels to drain. You can stack them, putting paper towels between the layers.
Cool the pastries completely before dusting them with confectioners’ sugar.
Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
HANDMADE VENETIAN CARNIVAL MASK