Lalagides remind me of tradition, family and simplicity. Fried dough is universal, but it’s what we serve it with and the reason behind it, that make it regional and cultural.
I remember my yiayia and papou would come by my parents house, just before Christmas, with a bag full of lalagides for us to enjoy. I am pretty sure I was more excited to dig in to the bag of lalagides, than I was excited for Santa to drop off his bag of goodies. Santa can’t compete with yiayia and papou.
As a Greek family, we typically served it at Christmas time with a side of feta, olives and orange loukaniko (Greek sausage flavoured with orange). The combination of soft, savory, oily bread contrasted with the sharp saltiness of feta and olives, made it incredibly addicting. But its flavour is so simple, it could paired with just about anything from flavourful stews to a simple cup of broth, to having it as a mid-day (or midnight) snack.
Also expressing the inner chubby child in me, I find these infinitely better than doughnuts, when dipped in cinnamon sugar.
Lalagides, sweet or savoury. Yummmm .
The hard part about these is that you can’t eat just one, or even two. I eat several at once and
Yiayia certainly enjoys making these, but she has expressed a desire to not cook or bake as much, and so the passing on of the recipe and tradition of bringing these to the family is now being passed on to the younger generation. I will never pass up the opportunity to learn from her, and so with eagerness I sat with her on two occasions to watch and record the recipe.
If you have ever watched a yiayia in the kitchen, you will know that measuring cups and spoons DO NOT EXIST. One cup means a coffee cup, teacup OR a drinking glass and a teaspoon is a regular spoon you would eat your cereal with OR the small ones you stir sugar in to your coffee with. It’s quite literally whatever her hand falls on to first.
My yiayia even measures flour with a plate. Yes, she scoops flour with a plate and then goes “this much”. It seems to ALWAYS turn out perfectly for her.
The logical side of me panicked the first time we went through this recipe, because I couldn’t even quantify what a plate-full of flour was supposed to be in proper measurements/weight. However, the 2nd time I was prepared. My measurements are still reminiscent of yiayia’s , but that’s part of the fun with making traditional recipes. They aren’t precise, and they are meant to be followed with instinct and years of practice. Don’t worry though, I have cleaned up the recipe with appropriate measuring tools, so that anyone can make it. This recipe is forgiving, so give it a try!
- 6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp active dry yeast (not instant/rapid rise)
- 1/3 cup light olive oil (or other light tasting oil)
- 2-3 cups warm water
Preparing the dough
- In a small bowl, add in 2 cups of warm water, sugar and yeast.
- stir and let sit for 10 minutes, until the yeast activates and becomes frothy
- In a large bowl*, sift in flour and salt
- In the small bowl of liquid, stir in your oil
- Make a small hole in the middle of the flour and pour in your liquid.
- Slowly mix and knead dough. If it is dry and crumbly, add in another cup of water and continue kneading. You want the dough to be soft and supple
- If dough is sticky, add in an extra tbsp of oil and continue to knead
- Knead for about 10-15 minutes.
- Gently lifting the ball of dough you will have formed, oil the bowl you were kneading in, and put a rolling pin atop the bowl and cover with a towel. The rolling pin will keep the towel from getting stuck to the rising dough.
- Let rise for 1-2 hrs, until doubled in volume
** The large bowl will need to be big enough to hold double the volume of dough you are making **
** Ensure you have a large enough work surface to hand roll dough and set the portions out for a “rest” **
Deep frying the dough
** It is always helpful to have someone do this stage with you, but it is absolutely fine to do this yourself. **
- In a large deep pot (or deep fryer), heat oil on medium
- Taking small palm sized pieces of dough, gently begin to elongate the piece of dough in to a long thin rope, rolling between your palms. You may use a counter/table to roll these, starting from the middle and pulling outwards gently.
- You will want the pieces to be somewhat uniform, but not too thin or thick, about the width of your thumb is good.
- Set the dough-rope aside, to let the dough relax, as you repeat the process again with more pieces of dough
- Accumulate as many pieces as you have space and then begin the frying process
- Taking a piece of dough, slowly spiral in to the oil, allowing it to coil in to it’s own unique shape.
- Don’t crowd the pot, just enough until they can simmer for about 3 minutes, until a golden colour.
- Remove with a colander spoon and place the pieces of dough on a tray with paper towels.
- Let them cool for 10 minutes before enjoying.
That’s it! Enjoy with some feta cheese, a charcuterie board, nutella or even a dusting of cinnamon sugar.
You can keep these in the fridge or in a sealed container in a cool kitchen. If they go in to the fridge, they will harden up. However, this is not permanent. Throw them in to the toaster oven for a couple of minutes, or a few seconds in the microwave and they are back to being soft and yummy again.
*** This recipe makes between 30-50 pieces, depending on the lengths created ***