Requires: potato ricer or masher, sugar/frying thermometer
Place the potatoes in a small pot. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender all the way through (approximately 10 minutes after the water has come to a boil however will depend on the size of the potatoes).
Drain the potatoes. Place the boiled potatoes into a potato ricer and mash into a small bowl. Alternatively use a potato masher or tamis (drum sieve). Set aside to cool slightly.
To make the dough, combine the warm milk and yeast in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the flour, lemon and orange zest, eggs, vanilla essence, butter, caster sugar and sea salt to the bowl. Add the mashed potatoes. Use your hands to combine all ingredients until a dough forms.
Tip: To get the perfect Graffe Napoletane texture, knead the dough as little as possible, just enough for the ingredients to be combined.
Cover bowl with a tea towel. Place in a draft free place (such as a cold oven that is turned off) until the dough has doubled in size (approximately 1.5 – 2 hours).
Note: The ideal resting temperature of the dough is 26 – 30 °C.
Cut 16 baking paper squares approximately 15X15cm in size. Line a plate with kitchen paper. Place enough white sugar to coat the Graffe into a medium-sized bowl.
Lightly flour a clean work surface. Divide the rested dough into 60g portions. Shape all portions into a ball. You will need to decide which shape of Graffe to use. For a donut shape, slightly flatten one ball and pierce it in the centre, then gently enlarge the hole. Place onto one of the baking paper squares and onto a large tray. For the classic ‘graffe’ shape, roll the ball into a log approximately 20cm long, then pinch the two ends lightly together (approximately 2 cm from the end) to form a circle. Repeat using the remaining portions of dough. Leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium until it reaches a temperature of 160 °C. Once the oil is ready, reduce heat to low. Carefully place two of the Graffe into the oil (with the baking paper). Once the baking paper has detached, use tongs to carefully remove and discard. Cook for 1.5 – 2 minutes on each side. Remove the graffe with a slotted spoon and place onto the plate with kitchen paper, then immediately place into the bowl with sugar to coat on both sides. Repeat using the remaining dough, cooking in batches of two graffe at a time.
Note: You will need to keep an eye on the oil temperature and adjust the heat between cooking and wait for the temperature to once again reach 160 °C.
Graffe Napoletane are best served immediately, not that you can wait for them to cool down – buon appetito!