Loukoumades first came to my attention in my youth. Every year, Brisbane's Greek community would (and continue to do so) hold an annual paniyiri ("festival") and welcome the public - Greek or not - to come along and dance and feast. The thing I looked forward to most about the paniyiri were the cardboard cones filled with hot, crispy, gooey loukoumades.
Years later I would be living in Vancouver and one day chance upon Greek Day festivities on West Broadway. It would be the memory of loukoumades that will me to miss yoga and stick around to drift from food stall to food stall in search of them.
And when recently on summer vacation on the Greek island of Corfu, I learned that there was a paniyiri taking place in a nearby hilltop village. Despite knowing that we would face an hour long walk down a pitch-black hillside to get back to our hotel, Rémi and I fought end-of-holiday fatigue and made the effort to go. All in the name of those golden, honey coated puffs that I love.
It's fitting, then, that I decided to learn how to make them. They're pretty much made just like you'd make a standard donut (because when you think about it, that's what loukoumades are). I like to top mine with honey lemon syrup and toasted sesame seeds because not only does it taste uber good, it makes me pleasantly nostalgic for autumn weekends of Greek festivities in West End's Musgrave Park. If you prefer, you can always swap the sesame seeds for crushed walnuts or pistachios, or swap the syrup for nutella.
Active time: 25 minutes
Non-active time: 1 hour+
Serves: 4 people
Ingredients for the lemon honey syrup
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 slice lemon
- 3 tbsp honey
Ingredients for the donuts
- 1 pack (7g) yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1.5 cups plain flour
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp grated or powdered nutmeg
- canola oil or other neutral oil for deep-frying
- toasted sesame seeds
- cinnamon powder
- metal slotted spoon
- paper towels
- bowls, plates, spoons
Method for the syrup
Start by making the syrup so that it has plenty of time to cool.
- Throw all the ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce immediately.
- Remove from heat and transfer to a separate container so that the syrup cools down faster.
Method for the donuts
Preparing the batter:
- Put the warm water in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow for the yeast to dissolve.
- Add all the other ingredients except for the sesame seeds, cinnamon powder and canola oil and mix until you have a smooth batter.
- Cover the batter with a tea towel and set aside somewhere warm for an hour. At the end of this period your batter should be noticeably bubbly, airier.
Cooking the batter:
- Set a bowl of water, two teaspoons and a plate dressed with paper towels close to where you will be frying the loukoumades.
- Fill a saucepan with the canola oil to a depth of at least 5 cm. Heat oil to about 180 degrees celsius, or until the oil fiercely sizzles when you place a tiny drop of batter in the oil.
- Once you're certain that the oil is hot enough, take both teaspoons, dip them in the bowl of water, then scoop up some batter in one spoon and use the other spoon to help you gently shape the batter before scraping it into the oil.
- Cook each batch for 2-3 minutes or until you have a deep, golden colour and a very crunchy shell.
- Use a slotted metal spoon to scoop the loukoumades out of the oil and place them on the paper towels to soak up excess oil.
- Drizzle with syrup, sesames and cinnamon powder and serve while they're still hot and crispy.
- As mentioned earlier: you can swap the lemon syrup and sesame seeds for things like walnuts, pistachios and nutella.
- Your batter needs to set in a warm space in order to be ready in an hour. If you're making this on a cold day you can let the batter rest for a couple of hours longer, or to keep things speedy, you can heat your oven to 40 degrees celsius and let your batter do its work in there. Make sure that your container is oven proof, of course.
- Don't overcrowd when frying, otherwise the balls will stick to one another.
- I've seen recipes that suggest frying these twice... I think frying them once is delectable enough, but, as you wish. :-)