Thursday, 28 January 2010

Carnival memories

I think this is the first sweet I ever made.

basin: ready to eat

It's a traditional Carnival deep fried sweet, called "castagnole"; with half of Northern and Central Italy regions claiming the paternity of them, it's impossible to say where castagnole were born.
Not that I care that much, considering that I never call them castagnole, but "basin". That's the way my granny used to call them. She was born in Adria, in the north-eastern province of Rovigo, but the family moved to Piedmont when she was few months old. She grew up speaking Piedmontese, but she would still call the castagnole the way her mum used to call them: "basin" means "small kisses". She had no idea where they got the name from, so I have no explanation to offer you as well.
I remember prepairing them with granny: kneeled on a chair, at the small working table in the kitchen that overlooked the big snow-covered garden, I would prepare the dough with her and, if I had behaved in the previous days, I could even use the knife to cut them. At 4 I felt a sense of self importance in handling the knife: knowing my clumsiness, it proved my granny had a lot trust in me, enough for the both of us. She would tell me how big to cut the dough, collect the small pieces and thn fry them; after I would dust the sugar all over them. Perhaps because of the memories attached to it, it's the only deep fried sweet I truly enjoy eating (not that this will stop me from eating the other ones, anyhow...).

 mamma prepara i basin

Yesterday afternoon my mum made them, out of th blue, just because she felt like it. Perhaps it was all my talkings the day before about all the carnival sweets we've been making in the shop that made her want to have some basin, but the moment she set to work felt long overdue to me. Why haven't we prepared them before!?!

basin: ready to fry

The fragrance of the anisette filled the room over the smell of fried, just as it used to do many years ago and, once again, I sprinkled the sugar over them, happy as only a kid can be.
The recipe is the one I copied from my granny notebook, so it's not very accurate with the measurings, as she would weighs ingredients using the eyes.

2 eggs
6-7 tbsp sugar
6-7 tbsp anisette liquor
1/2 sachet baking powder (around 2 tsp of the powder in the big box you find in English supermarket)
1 sachet "vanillina" or some drops of vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
flour as needed
oil to fry
sugar to dust

Beat the eggs with the sugar, then add all the other ingredients. Knead into a smooth dough.
Cut a piece of dough, roll it and form a long, not very thich "snake". Cut it in small pieces and repeat until the dough is over.
Heat the oil and fry few basin at a time until they're golden coloured.
Drain them on kitchen paper. Let them cool just a little and dust them with the sugar.
I like them best when they're not completely gone cold, but also when they're one day old. If any of them survive a day, of course.

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