From My Mother’s Kitchen. Light, Airy and Crisp. Angel’s Wings. Italian Crostoli.


For a long time I have been wanting to make Crostoli. Fried ribbons of crisp pastry. Liberally dusted with icing sugar. Eaten all over Italy on celebration days. Easter, Christmas, Christenings and family get togethers. This long weekend we travelled to Canberra and caught up with family. The weather was cold and brisk. The perfect excuse to stay indoors. And make crostoli. From scratch. With my mother and daughter.

Crostoli are made from a sweet pasta dough. Flavoured with lemon zest and brandy. There are many regional variations on the recipe. This is the one I know and love, and grew up with. It is easiest to bring the dough together in a food processor. Once kneaded and rested, it is then rolled through a pasta machine. Thin strips of pastry are quickly fried in very hot oil and generously dusted with icing sugar. Piled high on a platter. So light and airy they should dissolve into nothingness upon first bite. Some say they are the food of angels. Others maintain the fried crostoli resemble angel’s wings.

Incredibly delicious, these are well worth trying at home. We spent a wonderful Sunday morning making these. Three generations in the kitchen.  Cooking, chatting and catching up on family news. Served with a very short espresso after Sunday lunch. One last pointer. These do keep well stored in an airtight container. If they last that long.

Italian Crostoli

Makes about 50 Crostoli

1  1/2 cups plain flour
1  1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 tablespoon sugar
30g butter, melted
1 egg
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon brandy
oil for deep-frying
a generous amount of icing sugar, to serve

To Prepare the Crostoli

PLACE sifted flours and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.
ADD melted butter.  Pulse briefly then add egg, lemon zest, milk and brandy. Continue to pulse until the dough comes together into a ball.
REMOVE dough from the food processor and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Wrap in cling film and allow to rest for a minimum 30 minutes.
ATTACH a pasta machine to the side of a bench top and set the rollers on the widest setting.

DIVIDE the rested dough into 6 equal portions. For each portion of dough:

  1. FLATTEN slightly with the palm of your hand.
  2. DUST the rollers of the pasta machine with flour. Feed the dough through the pasta machine 2-3 times, folding the dough until you get an even rectangle.
  3. REDUCE setting by 1 and roll the dough through. Repeat, reducing the setting each time, until the dough is approximately 1.5mm thick.
  4. PLACE the length of pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Using a sharp knife or fluted ravioli cutter, slice each pastry length into 3 – 5 cm wide strips. Cut a slit lengthways along the centre of each pastry strip.
  5. THREAD one end of each strip through the slit to resemble a bow, as illustrated below:

Crostoli Pastry Strips

To Fry the Crostoli

HEAT oil to a depth of 5cm in a wok or wide shallow saucepan over medium-high. When the oil is ready a scrap of crostoli pastry dropped into the oil will turn golden brown in 15 seconds.
DEEP FRY  crostoli in batches (3 or 4 crostoli  at a time) for 1 to 2 minutes each side until the pastry bubbles and the crostoli are lightly golden and crisp.
REMOVE fried  crostoli from the oil with tongs and drain well on kitchen paper. Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking tray to cool completely.
DUST generously with icing sugar to serve.

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15 Responses to From My Mother’s Kitchen. Light, Airy and Crisp. Angel’s Wings. Italian Crostoli.

  1. Janet Rörschåch says:

    I remember seeing those years ago and being completely fascinated by their shape. Now I know how to make them. Thank you.

    • If you use a fluted ravioli wheel to cut them they are even more spectacular. Sadly we made these on the spur of the moment and I couldn’t find my mother’s ravioli wheel so I used a sharp knife instead. Its the threading of one end through the slit that gives them the angel wing shape.

  2. Kathryn says:

    I’d love to make these but can’t deal with all the oil!

  3. ana74x says:

    This was my grandmothers regular treat for us kids. Though she did it without a food processor, mixer, or pasta roller. All by hand, which I wouldn’t imagine doing all the time like she did! Might be time to give these a go…

    • I can’t imagine making these by hand. Mixing the dough would be doable but all that rolling! Sadly I am not so handy with the rolling pin.It’s great to resurrect these recipes. With the help of modern appliances. We were debating the Croatian variation at home on Sunday. Apparently it uses less flour, more eggs and no milk. I would like to try those and see how they compare.My mother had a friend who made them and apparently they were to die for but a closely guarded secret…

  4. *drool* Definitely one of my favourites! Now I know how to make them – thank you for sharing 🙂

  5. Anna says:

    Hi I made these today but they didn’t bubble what did I do wrong

    • I’m not too sure but did you knead the dough enough until it was smooth and elastic and then leave it to rest before rolling out? Also the oil needs to be hot enough so that when the pastry is placed in the pan it quickly puffs up and bubbles.

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