Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is known for many things. Historic towns and villages, impeccable scenery, grilled seafood, great wine and irresistible desserts. Sounds like heaven, really. One thing that can be found there, and in many places around Croatia, is kroštule (or hroštule) – thin ribbons of fried pastry that are puffed, incredibly light and crumble into sugary goodness once inside the mouth.
I know many cultures around the world have their own version – verhuni in the Ukraine, žagareliai in Lithuania and xkunvat in Malta, to name a few – yet these little Croatian “angel wings” have a special place in my heart due to the hazy memories they invoke. Namely me being a child stuffing my face whenever they were brought out at my parents friends’ houses.
The recipe couldn’t be simpler. You make a dough, roll it, cut it, tie it, fry it and douse it with sugar. Personally I don’t think they store too well after being made as the texture becomes a little too soft for my liking. Not that you’d be storing them for too long, anyway.
makes approximately 25
Place the flour onto a clean work surface, sprinkle with the salt and form a well in the centre. Place the egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar, sour cream, rakija, vanilla and lemon rind into a bowl and mix with a fork. Pour this into the well and, using your fingers, gradually mix the wet ingredients with the flour to form a dough. Alternatively do this in a large mixing bowl.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water. If it’s a bit wet, add a little more flour. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for half an hour.
If you have a pasta machine, pass the dough through the settings from thickest and gradually down to 2-3 mm thickness. Alternatively use a rolling pin. Once the dough is rolled, cut it into 15 cm x 2 cm strips using a crimped pasta cutter. Tie each strip into a knot, cover with a tea towel and set aside as you heat the oil.
Heat the oil to 190° C in a large saucepan. Place a few knots of pastry into the oil and allow to cook on both sides until lightly golden. Drain well on kitchen paper while you cook the remaining dough.
Combine the 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and icing sugar in a large bowl. While the kroštule are still hot, toss them very gently in the sugar to coat well. Allow to cool before serving. They can be stored in an airtight container, but they’re always best eaten the same day.
* Rakija is a distilled spirit made from a variety of fermented fruits. Kroštule often contain rum, so use it if you like. I’ve had a small bottle of my dad’s rakija in my cupboard for over a decade so it somehow made it into the mix!