Sweet Ricotta Panzerotti

I don’t make panzerotti very often and if I still lived in Sydney I never would have even tried. You could buy them in a little Italian cake shop in a place called Haberfield – and I was always glad for an excuse to go into this Italian suburb to max out on freshly made Italian cheeses, bread and cakes. But you cannot find anything even similar here in the UK, and when I do make these fried pockets of goodness, I always remember the time my mum bought one into the hospital for me the morning after I’d given birth to my first son.

It’s not easy to find information about these online, so I don’t really know how other people make them. I just know how the ones back home used to taste and I’m pretty happy with the results of this recipe. Using my sour cream donut recipe, you simply cut out large circles of dough and fill with the ricotta mix before you prove once more and then fry till golden brown. The knack comes in knowing how much filling to use, because as with any pasty or dumpling-shaped snack, there is an ideal amount.

Buy imported ricotta if you can for this recipe; it’s always good to strive for authenticity, and most supermarkets do stock an Italian brand. These will keep for a couple of days and are just as delicious the next day, heated up a little bit in the microwave to soften everything. These panzerotti also make a terribly wonderful breakfast.

Sour Cream Dough Recipe

1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup water (warm)
85g softened butter
1/4 sugar
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
1 pkt fast-action yeast (I prefer the Hovis brand over generic brands)
1 tsp salt

Put the butter, egg, salt and sugar into your mixing bowl and mix to combine, using the paddle.
Swap to the dough hook, and then add flour, yeast and warm water.
Work the mixture until it forms a wet, sticky dough. It’s ok to add more flour or water if you think it needs it.
It takes about 5 minutes until the dough starts to finally pull away from the edges of the bowl. That’s how you know it’s ready to go. I don’t know the ramifications of over-kneading, but I’m sure it won’t be too detrimental. It’s my experience that the strengthening proteins (the way the dough will spring back and hold together) is the pathway to lighter dough.
Let the dough prove for 2 hrs. It should double in size.
Roll the dough out on to a floured surface to about 1cm thick. Use cookie cutters to cut large circles.
Place a tablespoon of ricotta filling into the middle of the disc and dab a little of the ricotta mix around the edges of the circle to act as a adherant.
Press the edges together to seal in the ricotta.
Place on a tray lined with baking paper and dusted with flour and leave to prove for another hour.
Heat oil to 180C and fry the donuts, about 2-3 at a time is fine.
You can either sprinkle with caster or vanilla sugar while hot, or dust with icing sugar once they’ve cooled a bit.

Ricotta Filling

Mix together a tub of ricotta cheese, a pinch of salt, 2 tsp of honey and the rind of 1 lemon. Let sit for as long as possible, from 1hr – 1 day for better flavour.