Bomboloni Donuts! Even in Italy, we have a version of the American Donuts. In Tuscany, we call them Bomboloni. Honestly, I only knew them with the Tuscan name before Homer Simpson made donuts so popular in Italy.
When I think about Bomboloni and donuts my mind goes back immediately to the summers of the ’80s and ’90s when I was a kid. I used to spend the whole summer at the beach of Versilia and Apuan Coast with my mother and my two sisters. Sometimes, if we were strangely good, or if our mamma just forgot our Merenda snacks, we could get a Bombolone.
Bomboloni in our childhood
At that time, as today, the owners of the bath establishments used to prepare warm Bomboloni sprinkled with sugar in the afternoon. You could hear the announcement via the microphone informing guests that Bomboloni donuts were ready at the bar. “Sono pronti i bomboloni!” they said.
Also, you could find peddlers selling Bomboloni on the beaches. They shouted “Bomboloni! Bomboloni caldi!” (Bomboloni! Hot Bomboloni!). In both cases, all kids, like in the fairytale Pied Piper of Hamelin, were running to buy at least one. Coming back to their mothers with their faces and hands full of sugar icing.
Other places where it is common seeing bomboloni douts are local fairs or funfairs. You can buy one from the food trucks but for me, they taste too much different. I miss something… the scent of sea salt on them. Even if the time pass, my memories go to my childhood, and the connection between Bomboloni and the beach, is still really strong.
What are Bomboloni, the Tuscan donuts?
If the United States has donuts and Austria has Krapfen, Tuscany has Bomboloni.
It seems the recipe arrived in Tuscany from Austria during the XVIII century when the House of Habsburg-Lorraine guided the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Then the delicious Bomboloni became popular even in other regions of Italy like Emilia Romagna.
The bombolone is a fluffy fried dough, round in shape covered with sugar.
We usually eat it, warm or cold, for breakfast or in the afternoon as a snack. Never as dessert after lunch or dinner.
What makes the difference between Bomboloni of the Tuscan traditions and the ones from other regions of Italy is the process of making.
The dough is softer and has a thin texture. While the krapfen, the American donut, or the Bomba from Lazio have a thicker texture. We use less butter and fry in oil at a lower temperature. It makes them less heavy to eat. The original recipe does not have eggs but today we give you a version of an Italian Nonna that includes one egg in the dough.
The original Tuscan bombolone is empty. However, there is also a version with cream inside, popular especially in the south of the region, where they fill it with a cream.
Bombolone has also a version with a hole in the middle. In this case, they better look like the classic American donuts.
If you go south in the Livorno area, they call Bomboloni only the version stuffed with custard or Nutella. The version with the hole in the middle is known as Frate, literally a friar. What a funny name! And how strange is giving different names to the same things in places that are less than 100 km away from each other!
Bomboloni Donuts, (D’oh!) … in the Italian culture
Gianna Nannini is an Italian singer that was really popular from the end of the ’70s until the ’90s all over Europe. In 1996 she composed and performed a song called Bomboloni. A distorted sound of guitars and a raspy voice for a non-sense text where she mentions donuts, hammers, and real bombs to explode and build a new warm world. Should I mention that she is from Siena as well? Below find the video and the lyrics, both in Italian and English, for those who are interested in understanding what she sings about.
Regalami una bomba che ti faccio vedere io la gara di chi mangia troppo oggi vinco io regalami una bombola del gas per domani che devo cucinarti un mondo nuovo e senza problemi dai regalami una bomba bombolo che ci voglio fare un capitombolo bomboloni regalami un martello che stanotte ti pianto io un chiodo fisso nel cervello oggi offro io regalami una bomba che ti faccio scoppiare io un mondo nuovo caldo caldo come dico io dai regalami una bomba bombolo che ci voglio fare un capitombolo tieni strette le mie mani bomboloni bomboloni dai regalami una bomba bombolo che ti faccio fare un capitombolo stringi forte le mie mani bomboloni bomboloni bomboloni caldi bomboloni caldi
Here is the English version:
Give me a bomb that I will show you The race of those who eat too much Today I win Give me a gas bottle for tomorrow That I must cook A new world with no problems Give me a bomb bombolo That I want to make a tumble bomboloni Give me a hammer that tonight I plant to you A fixed nail in the brain Today i offer Give me a bomb That I'm gonna burst you A hot new hot world As I say Give me a bomb bombolo That I want to make a tumble Hold my hands tight Bomboloni, bomboloni Give me a bomb bombolo That I make you a tumble Hold my hands tight Hot Bomboloni Hot Bomboloni
To get this recipe, I asked my grandmother her bomboloni donuts version. She gave me the one she inherited from her dear friend and colleague Bice. During the summer season, Ms. Bice used to prepare and sell their handmade Bomboloni. My grandma desired to honor her memory making me promise to mention her in this recipe. So I did.
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Bomboloni, the Donuts of Tuscany
- ½ oz brewer’s yeast
- ¾ oz all purpose flour
- 2 tsp Warm water
- 4½ oz all purpose flour
- 4½ oz Manitoba flour
- 1 egg
- 2 oz butter
- 1½ oz white caster sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 grated lemon rind
- good oil for frying
- white caster sugar
- Pour flour, water, and brewers’ yeast in a bowl and mix.
- Make a homogeneous pat, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rest for 1 hour in a turned-off oven.
- Pour in a bowl flours, with an egg in the middle, butter, sugar and lemon zest.
- Mix with your hands, and pour milk little by little.
- Add the first dough.
- Mix with your hands for 20 minutes to get a homogenous and solid dough. If you use the pasta maker machine, work it until it will be strung to the hook.
- Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap, and let it rise in a turned-off oven for 2 hours.
- Roll the dough to obtain a puff pastry of 2 cm / 0'78" inch of height.
- Use a circular pasta cutter with 8 cm / 3'14 inch of diameter to make some disks. With a plastic bottle cap press in the center of the pasta disk to get the donuts. Put them on a baking tray covered with bakery paper, with some scattered flour.
- Cover with plastic wrap for one hour.
- When the dough is ready, pour some seeds oil in a frying pan. When the oil will be hot enough, fry one at the time the bomboloni, turning them upside down a couple of times.
- When the bomboloni will be gilded, drip the oil with a slotted spoon. Put them upon bakery paper scattered with sugar for the icing, until the entire surface is covered.
- Serve while still warm! Enjoy