foodFood & Drink

In the Kitchen With: Italian Doughnut Holes

by Kristina Gill

Castagnole by Kristina Gill | Tasting Rome

This week’s recipe is from my cookbook, Tasting Rome. Castagnole are traditionally a carnevale recipe, but I consider them the Italian equivalent of the doughnut hole. Even better, I consider them an easy cheat for rum balls at Christmas time. You can serve them strictly according to the original recipe or glaze them with something boozy (just make sure you omit the Sambuca in the recipe), and even add sprinkles of your choice. These are soft as pillows and best eaten immediately, but they will keep, and be perfect to have with coffee, even days after you make them. So make a beautiful batch, wrap, and give as a gift without fear. For an alternative recipe for castagnole from our archives, click here. —Kristina

Roman Street Sign photo by Kristina Gill | DesignSponge

Photography by Kristina Gill

Makes 30 castagnole


— 2 cups all-purpose flour
— 3 large eggs
— 2 teaspoons baking powder
— Pinch of baking soda
— 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (from 1/2 orange)
— 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
— 2 tablespoons Sambuca (or your favorite liquor)
— 5 tablespoons sugar, plus more for coating
— 1/2 cup vegetable oil
— 1/2 cup whole milk
— Neutral oil for frying

Mix the flour, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, orange juice, lemon juice, Sambuca, sugar, vegetable oil, and milk in a large bowl until smooth.

In a small pot or cast-iron skillet, heat 2 1/2 inches of neutral oil to 350F over medium heat. Using a teaspoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop up a spoonful of batter, then carefully scrape it off with a second teaspoon into the hot oil.

Cook the castagnole in batches of four or five for about 4 minutes, until a deep golden brown. Halfway through cooking, they will turn themselves over in the oil. Take care not to overcrowd the pan.

Remove to a paper towel-lined tray or plate to drain. If you are not glazing them, roll them in sugar while they are still hot so that the sugar sticks.

Castagnole are best eaten the day they are prepared, but they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

Kristina’s Note: To make a glaze, use 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (milk, melted butter, citrus juice, liquor, etc) per 1 cup of powdered sugar, depending on the consistency you wish to achieve. Toss the castagnole with the glaze or drizzle the glaze across the top of them. Scatter sprinkles over the top for an extra festive twist!

Woman at Fountain at Christmas by Kristina Gill | DesignSponge

Castagnole recipe (note excluded) reprinted from Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City. Copyright © 2016 by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Kristina Gill. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

About Kristina: Kristina Gill is an Italy-based food and travel photographer and the Food and Drinks Editor at Design*Sponge. A native of Nashville, TN, Kristina lives in Rome with her husband.

Portrait of Kristina Gill by N. Bazzani | DesignSponge

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