(Fried wheat dough pies)
The recipe is quite simple, but it awakens the soul, mine at least, through tastes and warm odors, which bring back memories of the past, everlasting memories kept in our minds… I am describing this recipe to you, as I have learnt it watching for years my late grandmother prepare it every time she made bread and fried wheat dough pies. I remember I couldn’t wait for the daybreak when I knew from the previous evening that “grandma” had mixed some flour with yeast to prepare the first dough (prozymi) in order to make bread the next morning. I remember waking up very early in the morning to “help” her and get my generous reward, lots of fried wheat dough pies! I am afraid, however, that I was more of a nuisance to her than of any help at all, the way I used to be around her.
But this it all too wordy, let me get to the point and describe the recipe:
Once my grandmother had kneaded the dough into a firm mixture, she would cut the dough with a knife into pieces the size of a round bread loaf (karveli). I wonder, how many of you remember this sensation of the knife cutting through the dough. Then, she would place the pieces into the «pinakoti» (a wooden, rectangular tray with square partitions, where the hand kneaded dough pieces were placed, which was usually laid with a clean, cotton, checked tablecloth), cover it with blankets, put it in a warm place in order for the dough to become puffy, and then bake it in the oven.
She would then take the dough leftovers, before they became puffy, and fry them to make wheat dough pies. This is the authentic wheat dough pie, the one that is made of the hand-kneaded dough leftovers. Nowadays, various restaurants and tavernas serve as a gourmet course, wheat dough pies made of puffy dough, which are sometimes stuffed with feta cheese. This is not the authentic recipe, however, but a mere variation.
If you don’t make your own hand-kneaded bread at home, don’t worry you can always prepare some dough for your fried wheat dough pies.
For 10 fried wheat dough pies
1 kg of white, all-purpose flour (feel free to experiment, using a different type of flour, and share with us the results)
1 teaspoon of salt
Not more than 3 small teacups of extra virgin olive oil
Warm water, in a quantity proportionate to the flour, that is, 1 kg of flour – 0,5 or 1 litres of water
You will be able to tell whether the quantities are appropriate by kneading the mixture and feeling its density, the dough must be soft and thick at the same time. You mustn’t pour in hot water, because the dough will become crumbly.
Kneading the dough
Put the flour and the teaspoon of salt in a plastic basin, combine them, and form a crater-like hole in the middle. Keep aside a generous handful of flour, which you will use later, adding it little by little, during the kneading. On the other hand, if you used too much water initially, you will need the extra flour to absorb it. Keep combining the mixture with your fingers open, by gradually pouring the warm water into it. Don’t pour all the water into the mixture from the beginning. The flour must absorb the water gradually, as this will prevent your dough from becoming a pap. The idea is to have an easy to shape, thick mass. Remember, you are making wheat dough pies, not doughnuts.
Then, add the 2 small teacups of extra virgin olive oil, and start kneading your dough, with your feasts closed, for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you think it is needed, add the third teacup of olive oil. Your dough will be ready to fry when it does not stick to your fingers, and at the same time, it is so elastic that once you gently press it with your fingers, your fingerprint fades away and the dough regains its initial form.
As soon as kneading is over, take a large, shallow, round plate, and use your palms and fingers to stretch one handful of dough at a time, cut off from the whole mass. If the dough is too sticky, spray some olive oil on the surface of the plate. You need to have a pie that is as large as the size of the frying pan that you will use.
In the meantime, put some olive oil in the frying pan, and heat it. When the oil is quite hot, but not too hot as if burnt, place the wheat dough pie in the pan and fry it alternatively on each side until it turns “pale” but not golden! and a crust is formed. Repeat, and fry your wheat dough pie again for about 3 minutes on each side, until you see it becomes golden-browned. Then, remove it from the frying pan, and repeat the same procedure with the rest of the dough.
I would advise you to take your pan off the heat for about 1 minute before you start frying the next pie. This will reduce the temperature of the olive oil and will prevent your wheat dough pie from getting “burnt”.
Caution: it would be best if you put fresh olive oil in the pan, or refresh the previous quantity after having fried two pies, before you continue. This will keep your olive oil from going rancid or have a taste of something burnt. Also, use extra virgin olive oil exclusively, because with other kinds of oil you will miss the pleasure from this tasteful journey.
Once fried, you can enjoy your wheat dough pies with sugar or honey.
I would suggest that you add a handful of feta cheese and some traditionally prepared olives, and start your tasteful journey. Or, if you are willing to wait a little, fry a couple of eggs in fresh butter from sheep milk, and “dive” your bread in the egg’s yolk.
I will say no more, but remember this, it will be pure bliss for the palate, and you will never have enough of those homemade pies.
I will be looking forward to your comments, once you’ve tried the recipe.