Loukoumades: the original Greek doughnut hole
Growing up there were a few things that we enjoyed watching our parents make almost as much as we enjoyed eating them. The production of their homemade loukaniko (sausage) for example, was fascinating to watch. We were captivated by the ways they found to stuff the sausage filling into the casings, manually and without any fancy kitchen gadgets. Then for days afterwards we would walk into the kitchen to find loukaniko hanging on homemade racks, and we would see them dry as time passed. Watching them make avgolemono soup was another treat; listening for that famous air smooch at the end always had us giggle with delight. Making diples was another fun recipe to watch come alive; it was usually a production which involved several people and of course ended with one of our favourite desserts. But perhaps one of the things we loved to watch most was the making of loukoumades.
As kids, when we heard that our parents were making loukoumades we would rush to the kitchen. To our young minds it was hilarious to see our usually impeccable parents getting their hands full of dough as they scooped up the batter and used a spoon to shape perfect-ish little balls. We were then told to stand back as these balls were dropped into a pot of hot oil. What emerged were perfectly browned, crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside, loukoumades. We knew that these were meant to be coated with warm honey, sprinkled with a dusting of cinnamon and topped with chopped walnuts, but we could hardly wait. Our parents hands were full of dough remember, and they couldn’t stop us as we popped quite a few of these cooling loukoumades into our mouths. Plain, but still simply delicious.
Making loukoumades can be a tricky venture, as frying often is. In order to stay safe, be sure not to wear anything with flouncy sleeves, and to use the back burner of your stovetop. As well, it is a good idea to use a large pot to cook your loukoumades; this minimizes the splattering that can occur by keeping it contained within the pot (as opposed to using a shallow frying pan).
The dough for these loukoumades should not be very stiff. Remember, you are not making bread. At the same time, it needs to hold together enough after rising so that you can shape them into balls. We have included the option for you to add an additional 1/2 cup of flour to your dough, if required, to reach the proper consistency.
There are many techniques for shaping loukoumades. We have seen people use two spoons, special loukoumades-making gadgets, and even piping bags. These may all work well, but we can’t say for sure how effective they are. We have always made loukoumades the way that our parents make them and the way that we describe in the recipe. It’s a bit of a messy job, but that is part of the delight in making loukoumades.
In shaping loukoumades we have been taught to dip our spoon in olive oil when scraping the dough off of our hand. This works wonderfully. We have seen other recipes which mention that you should dip your spoon in water. Now, we generally never say that our recipe, or our technique is superior to someone else’s…but here we will. Dipping your spoon in water means that you will potentially be introducing water (even a small amount) into your hot oil. This is a bad idea…and entirely unnecessary. Dip your spoon in oil people. It’s the safer thing to do.
- 8 grams instant dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (with potentially another 1/2 cup flour)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Olive oil for dipping your spoon into when shaping your loukoumades (see directions)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup of honey
- 2 tablespoons of water
- ground cinnamon, to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- In a large bowl combine the water, sugar and instant yeast. Allow to sit for approximately 5 minutes. You should see some bubbling of the yeast (if you do not, then check the expiry date of your yeast).
- In a smaller bowl whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon. Add this to the bowl with the water, yeast and sugar. Add the milk and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Mix well to combine, either using the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer or your hands. The dough should not be very stiff.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to sit in a warm draft-free place for at least one hour and up to two hours.
- When you are ready to start frying your loukoumades, heat 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil in a large pot and set over medium high heat. You want the oil to reach a temperature of 350F.
- Pour enough olive oil into a glass or other container so that you can easily dip a soup spoon into it and coat your spoon with the oil.
- Using your left hand (if you are right-handed), grab hold of some dough. Close your fist (which is where the dough will be) and gently squeeze so that the dough comes through the natural space which will be created between your thumb and forefinger. Using your olive oil coated spoon, scrape the ball of dough off of your hand and place it directly into the hot oil. Repeat until you have enough loukoumades in your pot, but being careful not to overcrowd it.
- Cook your loukoumades until they are golden brown. You will have to turn them on occasion to ensure even cooking throughout. This will take 3 – 5 minutes per batch. Remove the loukoumades from the hot oil using a slotted spoon and let them drain on a paper towel lined dish or cooling rack. Repeat until all your dough is used up. You may find yourself needing to add more vegetable oil to the pan in order to maintain a certain level of oil for frying.
- When your loukoumades are done, heat the honey and water in a small sauce pot until it is just heated through and has a more liquid consistency. Place your loukoumades on a serving platter or dish and pour the hot honey over them. Sprinkle with cinnamon and crushed walnuts.
- Loukoumades are best enjoyed soon after they are made. Enjoy!