May 11, 2011
Normally I do not like doughnuts, at least not the glazed and boxed kind most people go crazy over. I can easily walk away from those when they all-too-often land in the teacher’s workroom. But these little zeppole? When I made them, I ate, like, dozens. Unabashed doughnut gluttony. Joy that I had made something so delicious.
Then there’s the feeling I get on other days, like today, when the gym scale’s number has risen a pound or two and I start to look at food like it is my enemy and not my best friend. Of course, it secretly is and always will be my best friend, but I have to pretend to be angry with it right now. For my own good.
I know it’s not just me who can be this crazy, and know that she’s being crazy, and yet is still unable to stop it. Food is a huge part of my life, it brings me joy and allows me to bring joy to others, but when the paranoid girl switch is flipped, all bets are off. I start to think about what I should be giving up, how much more time I should be putting in at the gym, worrying about how everyone around me can probably tell I gained a pound-and-a-half, and holy crap that woman has a much better body than I do, and I really f-ed up by eating all of those doughnuts because these pants are feeling a little tight and CLEARLY IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD.
Because I work with teenage girls (boys, too, but I think it’s fair to say that girls still rock the majority of body image issues these days), I take very seriously the responsibility of modeling healthy lifestyle habits and not reinforcing crap stereotypes and abnormal expectations by not saying things like “Ugh, I feel so fat” or “I can’t, I’m on a diet” talk. But sometimes it’s harder said than done, walking the talk. And I feel like a hypocrite when I feel bad, even privately, about my body.
But there’s no fixing this, is there? I’m probably always going to have a complicated relationship with food, albeit one that has gotten much, much better over the years. And if I really feel like I have been unhealthy in recent weeks, there are the logical things I know to do: add more vegetables, drink more water, cut back on caffeine & alcohol, do desserts and bread products in moderation, watch portion sizes, diversify my workouts. Wear clothes I feel good in. Flirt with the cute guys at the gym. Remind myself that someday this body will be gone, at least the version as I currently know it, and there is a lot more to me than just some measurements.
And no matter what, I wouldn’t want to live a life that didn’t occasionally involve doughnuts. Because that’s just no life at all.
from Bon Appetit, May 2011
The original recipe calls for a chocolate sauce to go alongside the zeppole, but I don’t at all think they need it. In fact, I think sauce would overwhelm these delicious little morsels of joy. Next time I’m going to try making them with orange zest instead of lemon, and rolling them in a bit of granulated sugar for a crunchy coating.
Make sure you have a lot of friends around when you make these, or people you’d like to become your friends. Because they will.
2 cups + ½ T bread flour
½ cup + ½ T whole milk
¾ tsp. active dry yeast
¾ tsp. fine sea salt
3 T sugar
1 ½ tsp. lemon zest (I just used one lemon)
2 large eggs
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened & cut into cubes
vegetable oil, for frying
powdered sugar, for dusting
In the middle of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine flour, milk, yeast, salt, sugar, zest, & eggs. Beat at low speed until a dough forms. Gradually add butter, beating until absorbed and occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.
Increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth and glossy, about 3 minutes. Scrape dough off of the paddle and sides of the bowl; cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 hours.
Pour enough oil into a deep, heavy 5-quart pot to reach a 1 ½ inch depth. Heat over medium until the oil temperature reaches 325°. Working in batches, drop dough into the oil by heaping spoonfuls (about 1” in diameter). [I found it was easier to roll the dough by hand, collect a plate-full at a time, and drop them all into the oil at nearly the same time.] Don’t crowd!
Fry, turning occasionally until the zeppole are golden brown, about 4 minutes per batch. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to cool slightly. Sift powdered sugar over the zeppole or shake them with the sugar in a paper bag.