This year is a biggie for Paniyiri, Brisbane’s Greek Festival. They are celebrating their 40th anniversary. It’s come a long way from a small celebration within the Greek community to a huge festival over an entire weekend where the whole of Brisbane comes together to celebrate all things Hellenic. Paniyiri is actually Australia’s Big Fat Greek Festival as it’s the longest running Greek festival in the country.
Say the word Paniyiri to a local and the most common response is Honey Puffs. Sure there may be souvlaki, dancing, Retsina, bouzoukis and a celebration of 3000 years of civilisation but above all else, Paniyiri means Honey Puffs or, Loukoumades. And we love our Loukoumades in Brisbane – over 5 million in 40 years.
Food Of The Olympians
There are some who suggest that the Ancient Olympians were rewarded with honey soaked Loukoumades as part of their prize. This is based on a scrap of parchment from the poet Callimachus, that talks about a cooked honey cake. It’s a very long bow to draw and an unnecessary one. There is absolutely no need to justify consumption of these delicious Greek doughnuts.
Brisbane bees are gearing up their honey production in preparation for Paniyiri on May 21 – 22 in Musgrave Park. This year, festival goers will consume over 300 000 of these syrupy delights. For those who can’t wait, here is a Honey Puff recipe to get you through to May. It comes from the Paniyiri Cookbook, produced for the 40th anniversary celebrations. In addition to Honey Puffs, there are old faves such as Spanokopitta and Moussaka. These are genuine recipes supplied by local Greek community groups and Yiayas willing to reveal their secrets.
It is important to note that the flour used is self-raising, unusual in a yeast batter. It may also seem a bit counterintuitive adding flour to liquid rather than the other way around but just follow the recipe and you will be delighted with the results. These did indeed puff up light as air. The recipe suggests warmed honey as a topping but I find this too sweet, even for me, so I have suggested a tangy honey syrup as a lighter option. For the romantics amongst you, I have added bay and rosemary to the syrup as nod to the Olympics of old.
Honey Puffs w Honey Lemon Syrup
- 1 packet instant yeast (7g)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 4 cups self-raising flour
- 2 3/4 cups water – room temperature
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp lemon
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 small bay leaf (optional)
- 1 sprig rosemary (optional)
- icing sugar and cinnamon to dust
- oil for frying
- Place yeast and sugar into a bowl, add water and stir. Add salt and vinegar and stir again.
- Gradually add self-raising flour to liquid, whisking constantly until a batter forms.
- Set batter aside, to allow yeast to activate for at least 1 hour or until surface is covered in bubbles. (this may take several hours, depending on room temperature)
- Whilst batter is resting, combine honey, water, lemon juice, bay and rosemary in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Once the liquid boils, remove from heat and set syrup aside to allow bay and rosemary to infuse.
- Heat oil in a large sauce pan (or deep fryer). The oil is ready when a small blob of the batter dropped into the oil floats and puffs up instantly.
- Use a dessert spoon to drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil (you may need to use your finger or another spoon to help it drop off the spoon). Don’t over crowd the pan – a large saucepan can comfortably cook five or six at most.
- Cook on one side until lightly golden then flip over to brown on the other side.
- Remove cooked puffs from oil and drain on paper towel whilst next batch is cooking.
- To assemble, place honey puffs on a plate and drizzle as much or as little syrup as you like over the top. Dust with icing sugar and cinnamon. Serve warm
Makes approx 40 – 50 honey puffs
The batter can be stored in the fridge for a few days if you want to make smaller batches over a couple of days, in case you aren’t catering for the masses. You’d be surprised though, how many of these you can eat in a sitting.
*TIFFIN was invited to the community launch of Paniyiri 2016 as a guest of Paniyiri and Kath Rose & Associates. The decision to write a story was TIFFIN’s. The suggestion to make Honey Puffs was Mr Tiffin’s.