Chiacchiere, frappe, bugie, cenci and crostoli may be the better known of indulgent sweets for carnevale season (I can find all of these at once in the big supermarkets), but here is a treat that would make a mean contender in any cookie contest. Bakers, ready for a challenge? Allez cuisine!
La cuddrireddra is a specialty of Delia (Sicily), which, according to italian slowfood presidia, traces its origins to the greek kollura meaning twice-baked bread in the shape of a ring. A dough of semola di grano duro (durum wheat flour), sugar, eggs, cinnamon, orange zest, red wine and lard is kneaded until smooth. Long “ropes” are then rolled out and twisted into an intricate design resembling a crown. The story behind the cookies is that they were made in honor of the noblewomen living in Delia during the 13th-century War of the Sicilian Vespers.
I was inspired to attempt an adaptation of these after seeing a recipe on cookaround.com’s forum (link below). They use a unique tool called a pettine to give part of the cookie a ridged surface but other sites find this step unnecessary. Cuddrireddri is not for the meek or weak. You’ll feel like a cookie master if on the first try you get only one perfect example out of the bunch, but you’ll want to gobble it up like Cookie Monster! Please visit the links below to view more illustrated steps. Recipe makes 10-11 pieces.
2½ cups durum wheat flour
2/3rd cup granulated sugar
Grated zest of one orange, organic pesticide-free
2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons red wine
4 tablespoons olive oil (or lard if you want traditional)
Vegetable oil for frying (I use rice oil)
Tools: wooden dowel with a diameter of the handle of a wooden cooking spoon
NOTE: dried orange zest (it looks like a powder) is called for in the recipe at Cookaround but unless you can source it or make your own, finely mince the grated orange zest listed above.
In a large bowl mix together the durum wheat flour, sugar, cinnamon and zest. Add the eggs, wine and oil and stir until thoroughly combined. It will look dry and crumbly at first but don’t add more wine. Work the mixture with your hands until it starts to adhere, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and compact, about 8 minutes.
Break off a section of dough and roll into ropes approximately 3/8-inch thick. If you find that they stretch and break too easily, knead in a little more flour until firmer in texture.
About the wooden dowel…if you can’t find one you can also use the handle of a wooden spoon if it’s long enough. Rub flour on the spoon’s handle before shaping each cookie.
1.) Starting from the top end of the handle (the side without the spoon), loop a dough rope around it and gently press to seal.
2.) Rotate the dowel to obtain 7 or 8 rings, spacing them evenly apart.
3.) After you’ve formed 7 or 8 rings, bring the rope down one side…
4.) ..and around the end to the opposite side. Pinch off excess and gently press sides to seal.
1.) Carefully lift up the cuddrireddra and slide it off the dowel onto a lightly floured surface.
2.) These took me several attempts to come out looking like this! If you run out of dough rope you can also attach another piece as you go but I found that it works out better for the rings if you use a section of rope that is long enough. Repeat until all dough is used up, then bring a large pot of cooking oil to frying temperature.
3.) Connecting the ends must be done only when you are ready to drop them into the fryer. If the ends don’t stick, moisten one end with a tiny dab of water. Gently pinch to seal.
4.) To keep a perfect round shape, take care in slipping them into the hot oil. I ruined a few tossing them in haphazardly and got lop-sided results. Fry them to a deep golden brown. It won’t take long so keep a close watch on them. Remove and drain on paper towels. The scent of cinnamon and oranges will tempt you to take a bite as soon as they are cool enough but don’t worry if the texture has a tender crumb. When these are completely cool they’ll firm up to make excellent dipping cookies to go with your red wine, dessert wine, coffee or tea. Due to their fancy shape, I wouldn’t suggest these as cookies that ship well but they will keep for up to 2 weeks in a tin box or cookie jar.
Cookaround.com: Le cuddrireddri