Croatia: Fanjki (Kroštule)

Croatia's cuisine, like the country itself, is an anthology of dishes that reflect widely diverse cultural and geographic influences. Some culinary traditions are a result of Croatia's proximity to the sea and its wealth of fertile farmland, and some are the result of foreign occupiers who exported their tastes and cultures.

Croatians are very proud of their gastronomic traditions, and while there are regional differences, you'll find that freshness, grilling, and daily baking are consistent across the country. You will find a distinct Italian trend in cuisine on the coast, thanks to centuries of occupation by Rome and Venice; and a bent toward dishes heavy in meat and sauces in continental Croatia, thanks to years of Austrian, Hungarian, and Turkish domination.

Wherever you go, you'll find that the result is a wonderfully diverse Croatian cuisine that is rooted in family and friends, the seasons, and the bounty of Croatia's soil and sea.

These popular sweets are found under many names. In English, they are called sweet fritters, sweet knots or sweet bows. Depending on the region in Italy, they are known as crostoli, cenci (sweet knots) and cenci per il Berlingaccio (Shrove Tuesday Sweet Knots), frappe', frappole, nastri, chiacchere delle monache, etc. In Dalmatia and Croatia, they are known as fanjki (kroštule), hrvoštule, and škrustule. In Poland, they are kruschik (spelling?).
This sweet is traditionally served at Christmas and Easter dinners. In Tuscany, they are served on Shrove Tuesday or as it is called locally, the Feast of the Berlingaccio.

Krostule (KRO-shtyoo-leh)

4 eggs
4 tbs sugar
3/4 tbs butter, melted
2-3/4 cups flour (approximately)
2 tsp anise extract
2 tsp water
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying

Beat whole eggs in electric mixer until thick and lemon colored (about 5 minutes). Gradually add sugar and salt and beat until dissolved. Stir in melted butter.

Add half of the flour and blend well. Mix anise extract with the water and add to the mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a rather stiff dough, somewhat like a noodle dough.

Add the remaining flour and knead with your hands until the dough i elastic and not too sticky to touch. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Roll the dough out into small portions on a well-floured board. Dough should be very thin and almost transparent. Cut with a pastry wheel into 1" x 4" strips. If desired, tie the strips into loose knots.

Using a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pan, fry strips in hot oil until very light golden color, turning once. Use two forks to handle so as not to break the strips. Be careful not to overcook.

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with confectioners sugar from a sifter. Store in air-tight containers.

Recipe from Mary Scurich Farris as printed in a very old newsletter of one of the Croatian groups of Watsonville, California. Both sides of Mary's family (Skuric' and Fiorovic') were from Konavle.

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