This fried dough delight is another recipe of Nelson’s mom. Thankfully she included it in the recipe notebook she made for Nelson.
Full disclosure- this is the recipe as it was handed down through generations and it’s not the recipe to try out if you’re a novice-baker; it takes a bit of time effort, and patience. Nelson’s watched his mom make this many times and it took him a couple of attempts before he got it just right too–and Nelson’s not that new in the kitchen. I’m happy to report he’s got it and now we get to enjoy this whenever Nelson has some time and the mood strikes him to make these.
So this is what we know about this treat…different regions of continental Portugal, the Azores islands and even Brazil are known to make a treat of this same name (and sometimes different names) but every region makes it a little differently. If you do a web image search of the word Filhoses or Filhós you’ll see probably a dozen different kinds — all fried dough of similar recipe but all different. Does that make sense? Who knows which version is the original. It doesn’t matter really they’re all good in their own right.
These are not the type I grew up eating. This type is quite typical of the region of the island Nelson lived on. The ones I knew were flatter, crispier and topped with sugar and cinnamon. These that Nelson made are not typically topped with anything…but we have been known to “accidentally” drop sugar and cinnamon on them–not sure how that happens.
Nelson has fond memories of waking up to the familiar scent of these being fried up. He would often be allowed to have a warm Filhós for breakfast–as his mom was still frying up a big batch. A totally unhealthy breakfast, but a totally yum treat now and again.
Nelson remembers these always being made and shared during Carnival around February (just before Lent began). But he says it wasn’t limited to this time of year.
We had a picnic with Nelson’s cousins and all the kids this past Saturday. Guess what Nelson brought to share. Yup…and they were enjoyed by everyone–it brought back memories.
These can be a little more dense but mostly they’re pretty airy. Think of them as a fried airy donut. Nelson’s mom likes them as airy as possible. I like them any way. But the best way is when they’re warm…mmm…with a nice cup of coffee or glass of cold milk. The only bad thing is that we ate them all at the picnic so I don’t have any to eat right now (sad face).
If you ever get the chance to make or be offered one of these…we hope you try it and enjoy!
- 2¼ tsp traditionl active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 tsp white granulated sugar
- 6¾ cups (1 kg) all purpose flour
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbs butter at room temperature
- 4 large eggs beaten
- 1 pinch of salt
- 11/4 cups of water at room temp. (add more water if you find the dough too stiff. 1 tbs at-a-time)
- 100 fl oz of vegetable oil for deep frying
- In a small bowl, mix yeast, ¼ cup warm water and 1 tsp sugar and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Pour the flour into a large stand mixer bowl.
- Make a cove/pocket in the middle of the flour with a spoon or a clean fist.
- Pour all remaining ingredients, including the yeast mixture in the flour pocket.
- Start mixer on kneading setting and knead for 14 minutes.
- Check the dough after 5 minutes during the kneading step. The dough should be soft but not overly wet. The dough hook should be moving easily through the dough. Add a bit more water at this point if the dough seems very dense, 1 tablespoon at-a-time.
- Pour the dough into a large bowl.
- Cover with a towel and a blanket to keep it warm.
- Let rise for 3 to 4 hours or until it doubles in size.
- Layout a large towel and lightly flour the top of the towel.
- Punch down the dough.
- Take a pinch of dough (about the size of a small plum) and roll into a ball.
- Place the dough ball on the floured towel and repeat until all the dough is used.
- Lightly press/flatten all of the dough balls a little and cover with another towel.
- Let rise for an additional 15 minutes.
- In a large pot, heat up the vegetable oil to between 350 ºF and 360 ºF (use a candy thermometer).
- Uncover a corner, press down the first dough ball.
- Pickup the first one and stretch it just a little to expand it like a tiny pizza (careful not to over stretch or tear).
- Make sure to keep the remaining dough covered while preparing each "Filhó" to avoid drying them out.
- Carefully place the dough in the hot oil (see photo). This should be placed and not dropped to avoid splatter.
- The dough will drop to the bottom and then start to rise to the top.
- Using two heat-proof slotted spoons, turn the dough over to start colouring the other side. Turn every 10 seconds until a nice golden colour is achieved all around the dough. Turning it often will help it puff up.
- Carefully remove the dough onto a large platter lined with paper towels to soak up the grease. Stand them on their sides and back to back to leave room for all 20.
- Repeat the last six steps until all of the portions are fried.
- Serve warm or cooled.
These can be frozen for future use. Freeze in freezer bag just after they've cooled off.