Did you know that loukoumades played a role in the ancient Olympic Games? Guest writer Maggie Makris of MomzCuizine explains.
By: Maggie Makris
Loukoumades at the Ancient Olympic Games
You know them as loukoumades, but in some parts of Greece, these sweet treats are sometimes called “Tiganiatehs”. Some even call them zeppoles. Loukoumades actually can be traced back to ancient times.The poet Callimachus was one of the first to write about this sweet, making them one of the oldest-recorded desserts in Greek history. Back then, however, they were known as “Honey Tokens”. While we all know and love to eat this tasty delight, most don’t know that loukoumades were part of the ancient Olympic Games. Victors were awarded an olive wreath — and loukoumades. They received their accolades and this sweet gift in an eminent ceremony.
Any time is a good time for loukoumades
Loukoumades are perfect for those cold winter days, when the kids come home from school looking for comfort food. Serve them with a cup of hot chocolate and it hits the spot. Loukoumades are also the perfect way to cap off your meal at the local Greek fest. Whatever the season, any time is a good time for loukoumades.
Make your own loukoumades
You, too, can make loukoumades at home! This recipe was perfected through trial and error and over the course of a year. Give it a try!
Yield: 3 pounds
3-4 pounds all purpose flour
2 packs of yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (Optional. Use if you like crispy loukoumades)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Optional: 1 cup black or yellow raisins
- In a 4 quart pot, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Stir in about 1/2 cup flour. Then add salt and baking soda. Allow this leaven to rest for about an hour or until it rises a bit. Small bubbly holes should start forming immediately.
- When the leaven is ready, start to slowly add water and remaining flour. Add a little bit of water, then a little bit of flour until you get an elastic dough. Knead it until smooth. Fill a small bowl with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl. Cover and let it sit in a warm place to rise for about an hour and a half, until it doubles in size. If the dough doesn’t rise, you’ll have to start over.
- After rising, place the dough in your palm and squeeze upright with your fingers. A ball should form at the top. The dough should be elastic, but not stiff. Use the olive oil and a spoon to “cut the ball” from your hand. Keep the spoon in a bowl of olive oil to prevent sticking.
- In a pot or wok (which I find more convenient), fill with a mixture of half olive oil and half corn oil. Fill it a little bit more than half way. Set pot over a high flame, and heat oil until it’s blistering hot. Then begin dropping in loukoumades. They should rise to the top. Fry until golden. Remove with a straining ladle. Place on towels to drain the oil.
- Drizzle with warm honey.
- Sprinkle on powder sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts. Enjoy!
*If you like raisins you can also add raisins either in the beginning or at the end. I usually add them towards the end because not everyone likes them.
Give it a try
Why not give it a try? It may take a few times to perfect, so don’t be discouraged! Just keep your eye on the sweet prize.
KALI OREXI! Have a good appetite!
Maggie Makris is a proud Greek Foodie Mom. She began cooking at the age of 13. For Greeks, food and family go hand-in-hand, so she combined her culinary, entrepreneurial, and educational skills to create a blog called MomzCuizine. There, she shares tried and tested recipes. Some are traditional Greek dishes, while others simply bear her unique signature. Nonetheless, they all come with a story, and lots of love. The blog honors her heritage and its cuisine, as well as her dad’s lessons, which help to keep his memory alive. Maggie encourages families to share meals together at the table, as these times play a significant role in our daily lives. Follow her on Twitter.