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Andalusian fried doughnuts: Where do they come from?
Fried doughnuts, whether fried or baked, with a fluffier or normal dough seasoned with sugar or cinnamon, are a must-have in every Spanish pantry. Fried doughnuts can come in a variety of forms, sizes, and flavours in Spain, depending on the recipe’s development. In all cases, however, they have a worldwide fan club which can be compared to the fan clubs of churros and pestiños (fried pastry). In this entry, we tell you why!
The first mention of doughnuts in history may be found in the Roman Empire. Its recipe spread swiftly throughout the Roman provinces and the Mediterranean Basin. However, the traditional Andalusian fried doughnut has its origins in Al-Andalus cuisine, in the so-called ‘Arab pan desserts’, as do many other typical pastries from the south of Spain. This traditional recipe was established in Spain in the 10th century, although it was more like a fritter than a doughnut.
The procedure was effortless: fry a wheat dough in olive oil before coating it with sugar, drenching it in honey or covering it with other savoury dressings. The Arabic recipe in Al-Andalus evolved through time. The central hole was added to make it easier to cook the centre of the dough and keep it from getting too raw. Although the solution to prevent the doughnuts from remaining raw appears simple, urban legends attribute the creation of this hole to a Dutch sailor named Hanson Gregory, who apparently made a hole in the centre of a doughnut with the lid of a ship's pepper shaker.
The heirs of the original fried doughnut also added a new ingredient, the egg, which improved both the flavour and the firmness of the fried doughnut. Thus, the current Andalusian fried doughnuts (mainly consumed during Lent and the Holy Week) are primarily made of flour, eggs, and oil. Together with water, sugar and yeast, not expensive ingredients. These simple doughnuts were a regular supply of carbohydrates in days of famine, making them a much loved and popular food among the Andalusian people.
For over 60 years, at Pastelería Álvarez, we have been making and selling fried doughnuts using our recipe based on the Andalusian doughnut. Our fried doughnuts are fluffy and coated with sugar, excellent with a hot chocolate in the winter or with a coffee or fresh juice in spring and summer. As always, we invite you to visit our online shop, where you will find our delicious fried doughnuts at a fantastic price!