Fried Dough That Doesn’t Need a Deep Fryer

photo credit: Jess Scranton

“I’m just going to fry some dough and put lots of sugar on it and eat it and hope.”

Best Facebook status update I’ve read in a long time, courtesy of a dear friend in the midst of grading Art History 101 term papers at the community college where she is a professor. Despair has set in.

It got me thinking about street fair funnel cakes, San Gennaro zeppole, and even the Ye Olde Fried Dough stand at Fort Tryon Park’s Medieval Festival. There’s something so giddily exciting about the greasy goodness of fried dough, perhaps because it’s so fleeting. As soon as it cools, you’re left wondering what you were thinking.

Much like the empanada-dumpling-pierogi-ravioli-samosa instinct to pack good food into pastry, fried dough is found in nearly every cuisine, almost always as some form of comfort food.

First, there’s the doughnut, which, when made traditionally, is nothing more than a circle of fried dough. Take it down to New Orleans, dust it with powdered sugar, and you’ve got a beignet.

In Sicily, vendors on the streets of Palermo will fry a ball of dough, slice it in half, and then stuff gelato in it. Or wait for the Feast of Saint Joseph and eat zeppole stuffed with ricotta custard. Christmas in Naples wouldn’t be the same without strufoli: fried balls of dough the size of your thumb and then drizzled in honey.

Churros are basically just fried dough, squeezed through a pastry tube and then dusted in cinnamon after emerging from their deep-fried bath. Now that it’s summer, there will surely be that woman and her kids selling churros out of a grocery cart on the 42nd Street subway platform!

Poori makes a dramatic entrance when it’s brought to your table to accompany your chana masala just before it’s pierced with a fork, deflated, and then ripped into by everyone in grabbing distance.

It’s also savory in Turkey where you would crumble feta cheese into it before frying, and a proper English breakfast would be incomplete without a piece of bread fried in bacon drippings.

But all these musings aside, I’m still left with the craving for that simple mound of fried dough found at street fairs, minus the overused vat of peanut oil. With the following recipe from the good people at King Arthur Flour, there’s no reason that I, or my haggard professor friend, can’t make it at home with nothing more than a pan on the stovetop.

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  1. says

    Stop it! Now I want a funnel cake. I haven’t even THOUGHT about a funnel cake in a gazillion years and now I want one. You are obviously from the Dark Side of the Force.

  2. says

    I love fried dough as well. And I love funnel cakes. I will get one at a fair we attend once a year, eat about 5 bites and have to (sadly) throw the rest away.

  3. Jane Boursaw says

    Whoever invented fried dough should have a national statue somewhere. I fondly remember making donuts as a kid, but haven’t fried anything in years. Everything in moderation, right? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  4. says

    Hey! This is the recipe for Fry Bread–Navajo staple (and made by other tribes as well. Top with honey or powdered sugar or make a Navajo taco by piling it with all the taco fixin’s.
    Honestly, when there’s a fair or pow-wow or ANYTHING going on in the Southwest, the most popular booth is the Fry Bread booth.
    Only problem is my family eats ’em faster than I can make ’em.

    • Casey BarberCasey Barber says

      Ohhhh, fry bread. You know the way to my heart. The world is small and recipes make it smaller, eh?

  5. Karen O says

    I made this last night, and it was uh-MAY-zing. I modified it slightly; rather than have straight fried dough, I had some leftover ravioli in the fridge that I stuffed it with, so we had fried dough pasta pockets for dinner. The dough was quick to put together, and didn’t taste greasy at all (although I fried it in as little oil as I could). I use canola oil and fried them for 2 minutes a side. Some leftover pasta sauce or tomato soup makes the best for dipping. Talk about gourmet leftovers!! Thanks for sharing this recipe; it is most def a keeper.

  6. Danielle Gorde says

    My family calls fried bread, dough gods! We put syrup or powdered sugar on them! I grew up on them! They are the best!

  7. julie says

    My grandma was Russian/ German. She made dough gods as she called them. She made regular bread and then she would make dough gods . She added more sugar to her bread mix. Let it raise a short time and then made paddys and fried them . We put butter, butter and salt, sugar, surp, peanutbutter or jelly. You can put any topping on them. She made them to go with bean or stews or for snacks. I made them for my son growing up and now j make the foe the great nephew and niece.