Was it really already Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday this past week?! I know it’s earlier this year than usual, but it makes it feel like the year is already rushing full steam ahead! Today I made filhós, which is a type of Portuguese doughnut, and is traditionally made during the week of Carnaval, or right before Ash Wednesday. I was sick all last week and couldn’t make them in time for Carnaval, but better late than never! The recipe I used to make them is from my Grandmother, Teodora. Growing up, I remember my mom, grandma, and other family members making them, and I’m happy to say that the ones I made today taste just like I remember.
For Fat Tuesday and during the week of Carnaval, Portuguese folks go crazy making delicious sweet treats like these filhózes, and participating in comedic sketches. Growing up, our small Portuguese community in Idaho would gather together to watch a group of us perform such comedic sketches, and then afterwards eat the yummy filhós. In 2015, I was in the Azores to attend my cousin’s wedding, and it took place during Carnaval week. I got to spend the entire week traveling from village to village on the island, watching these sketches performed by the locals and eating and drinking merrily. It was a very cool experience. On one of the last days of Carnaval, I got dressed up as Minnie Mouse and have included a photo here for your viewing pleasure!
Filhózes are actually easier to make than I thought, and make for a sweet treat you just have to try.
Yields: 15-20 doughnuts
1/2 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
3 tablespoons whole milk, warm
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Canola oil, for frying
1) In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2) In a large bowl, mix together milk, butter, sugar, eggs, and lemon zest. Add flour, salt and yeast mixture to bowl and mix.
3) Using a standing mixer or your hands, mix dough really well. It should stretch and not be too sticky. Add a little bit of water and flour as needed. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set in a dry and room-temperature area. Allow dough to rise for approximately 1 hour.
4) Remove dough from bowl and begin to gently knead it for a few minutes. One last time, place it back in the bowl, cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
5) Fill a medium-sized frying pan with three inches of oil. Lightly oil your hands and pull apart a 2-3 inch amount of dough. Roll into a ball and then gently start stretching it with your fingers until it’s a sort of disc shape, but the edges can be uneven. Drop into the oil and cook on both sides until golden brown. immediately coat in sugar and serve hot.