Have you ever spent Christmas in Greece? Well, then youcertainly have come across these three sweet treats: melomakarona, kourabiethes and last but not least díples (thee-ples). Díples, the Greek word for fold, is a light and crispy fried dough topped with walnuts and a generous drizzle of honey syrup. There is an easy recipe below so you can make your own díplesthis Christmas!
Head straight to the recipe.
Every household in Greece has its own favourite Christmas sweets. You will probably make a lot of melomakarona to share amongst the family. In return, there will be a festive tray loaded with kourabiethes at your doorstep. The wonderful baking smells fill the house and Christmas baking is certainly a labour of love that comes with a temporary shift from kitchen to bakery.
You can find díples all over Greece, but they have a special place in Peloponnese and Crete (often called avgokalámara) that often make them as special treats aside from Greek Christmas celebrations on weddings, christenings and any other happy occasion.
Diples is possibly one of the trickiest and most labour-intensive Christmas sweets, unlike the easy of Christmas cookies (melomakarona & kourabiethes). An extra pair of able hands is more than welcome when you attempt this, be warned however, little helpers might find this a little bit intimidating.
The first time I made díples was here in London, a good 7 years ago and I had to admit defeat! I had got a pasta maker just for the occasion which unfortunately resulted in an oily leak on my dough (very clumsy of me). So, I set out to use a rolling pin to obtain the thinnest dough possible. If you have a thin wooden rolling pin, it’s the best tool to use for this job. The normal rolling pin will also work but it might result in slightly thicker pieces of dough, once fried these tend to form thicker edges that will not keep as crispy – they tend to turn stale very quickly.
So here is my first successful attempt for a small batch of díples (thee-ples). As this sweet is offered on celebrations most of the recipes call for large quantities and a small army of hands to complete the task. Before you start making them, make sure you read through the recipe and check out the handy tips and tricks.
Tips and tricks for making díples
- Make sure you use a vanilla and a bit of liquor of choice i.e.mastic liquor, ouzo to balance out the smell of the eggs.
- If you have a pasta maker, you can use it for quicker filo opening. Set it on the thinner possible setting. If not, try with a very thin wooden rolling pin, the typical rolling pin is still okay but you might struggle a bit.
- Time wise, you can rest the dough for up to 12 hrs so it might be a good idea to make it in the evening and roll it out & fry the next morning.
- You can drizzle díples only with honey if you fancy (and don’t forget the walnuts)
- The shape of díples is traditionally that of a fold or a bow. It is slightly tricky to achieve the rolled-up fold so I opted for bows instead. If however wish to have a go at the rolls, you need to use a fork and a spoon. Secure the one tip of the filo stripe between the fork tines, submerge in the frying oil and twist it whilst keeping the spoon close by so that the filo doesn’t escape in the floating oil. So, twist your fork to create the roll and use the spoon as help to keep it in place. As you will need to do this in frying oil, it will take a few tries to get the hold of it. If it’s the first time you are making them, proceed with the easier bow shape.
Diples, Christmas honey rolls
- 5 eggs
- 500 gr all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- The rind of ½ an unwaxed lemon
- 1 shoot of ouzo or liqueur
- 1 ½ tspn of sugar
- A pinch of salt
- ½ tspn of vanilla essence
- ½ tspn baking powder
Vegetable oil for frying
For the syrup
- 500 ml water
- 250 sugar
- 250 honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 unwaxed lemon, peel and juice
- In a large bowl whisk the eggs, add the liqueur and the vanilla essence.
- Follow by whisking in the sugar and a pinch of salt.
- In a different bowl sift in the flour, make a well in the center and add the eggs along with the lemon rind.
- Using your hands kneed the dough until firm, but do not overwork.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 1hr (you can rest it for up to 12 hours).
- To roll out the dough, separate in smaller batches. Use a very thin wooden rolling pin and have some extra flour at the ready.
- Lightly dust your working surface and proceed with opening the dough in circular manner. To achieve a circular shape, turn the dough around and roll it out from different sides as if following the quarters of a clock. Remember to dust with just a bit of flour often so that it doesn’t stick to your surface. Make your filo as thin as you can.
- When rolled out, the dough should stay covered until they heat the frying oil – slightly damp clean tea towels will do the trick.
- To shape, cut each filo in thin strips approximately 10 x 20 cm. For the bow shape, you simply fold each cut out and fold in 0.5 cm. Think of it like a fan. Make a pinch in the middle and twist to create the bow.
- Place in a deep pan generous vegetable oil and heat it up.
- Lower in the frying oil a bow shape at a time, without crowding them. Each bow will need a minute each side to turn golden.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towels to get rid off the excess oil.
For the syrup
- Place in a pot the water, honey, sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon peel and bring to the boil. Skim and froth and lower the heat to medium – it should be ready within 7-8 minutes. Remember to add the lemon juice a couple of minutes before your honey syrup is ready. Remove from the fire and let set.
- Once fried, you can keep diples in an air tight container. Make a honey syrup, dip them in once they rich room temperature and add the walnuts. You can use some extra honey when serving.
So, have you started your Christmas baking? Do you have a favourite Christmas special? Let me know in the comments!
From London with love,