It’s the season on Crete for commemorative Saint Days and traditional Loukoumades, little puffs of sweet joy the island’s big and little children love. These little deep-fried honey puffs adorn every table and grace just about every bakery store display case during the celebration of Greek Orthodox tradition commemorating Agios Andreas, Agia Aikaterini, Agios Stylianos, Agia Varvara, and others.
For those unfamiliar with the pastries, Loukoumades are little bite-sized honey puffs, which are deep-fried to golden and crispy perfection. Here on Crete, and elsewhere in Greece, they are usually served soaked in hot honey syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon. The lent friendly sweets are offered to guests whenever they enter someone’s home. The video below from Eva Parakentaki (Mama Mia) is in Greek, so you can pick up some of the language and see Loukoumades being made at the same time.
To experience a little bit of a Cretan Christmas, here’s a recipe for creating your own festive Greek pastry bliss. This is another recipe that is slightly different than the Mama Mia one. There are many with slight deviations, as you can imagine.
- ½ kg flour
- 1 tbs salt
- 1 level tbs honey
- 2 ½ cups of water
- ½ envelope yeast
- Oil for frying
Put yeast into 1 cup of the warm water and stir until dissolved. Next, pour flour, salt, yeast, honey, and what remains of the water into a mixing bowl. Mix well with a spoon until it’s a consistent batter.
Cover the mixture and leave in a warm place to rise. When the mixture has almost doubled and there are bubbles on the surface, you are ready for the next steps.
Pour a decent amount of olive oil into a pan and bring it to a very high temperature. With your hand, take a small amount of the mixture, clench your fist and with a spoon remove the mixture that oozes out. Toss the ball or blob you have created in your hand into the oil and repeat until the pan is full.
Allow the Loukoumades to brown, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them to drain on absorbent paper.
Serve hot, with honey and sesame. Expect big smiles all around.