Bomboloni Donuts. You should know that even in Tuscany 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 immediately back to the summer of the ’80s and ’90s when I was a kid. I used to spend the whole summer at the beach of the Versilia and Apuan Coast with my mother and my two sisters. Sometimes, if we were “unusually” 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 (that makes them less heavy). The original recipe does not have eggs but today we give you a version of a grandmother that has 1 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 friar.
What a funny name! And how strange is giving different names to the same things in towns that are less of 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 dedicated both to that snack and to real bombs. 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.