The ‘Graffa’ is one of Naples’s symbols par excellence, traditionally linked to the Carnival and Father’s Day, but very much available at Neapolitan restaurants and bakeries all year round. If you haven’t tried these yet, Giraffes are sweet and fluffy fried doughnuts made with flour, boiled potatoes, eggs and butter.
A native of Naples, Le Graffe however has its ancestors placed in Austria. Starting from the etymology, that is from the origin of the word itself, the term “graffa” derives from the Austrian word “krapfen,” probably because the early doughnuts were invented by mistake by the cook Cecilia Krapf. At the end of the seventeenth-century krapfen was essentially small fried dough stuffed with jam. However, during the Austrian domination in Italy, krapfen spread throughout the peninsula reaching as far as Naples. The Neapolitans who fell in love with this wonderfully sinful dessert welcomed it as their own and even ventured to make their own versions with very specific characteristics, calling it precisely Graffa, Italianizing the word ‘krapfen.’
Journey of Graffa
Over the centuries Naples has been home to many varieties of Graffa, all with unique Italian sweet signatures. Although traditionally prepared during the Carnival time, Graffa can be found enjoying by Neapolitans all through the year, mostly with some good hot coffee. These delicious doughnuts are also widespread in other parts of Italy, such as Sicily where, however, they take other names depending on the area. For the older generation, the sweet sugary aromas wafting from freshly baked Graffa evokes childhood memories, making them reminiscence the days when the homemade delicacies were common treats that were consumed with much excitement and gluttony.
Recipes for Graffa
The dough of the classic preparation is based on flour and potatoes, although there are recipes without potatoes. In ancient times, lard was also used, but it was replaced with butter overtime to make them lighter. Many consider preparing these doughnuts without potatoes as something that would rid them of their most important characteristics, namely the softness. However, there are preparation methods that do not use potatoes and yet produce really soft and fluffy doughnuts.
At A’do’REfritto, we use a special recipe that bakes to life super soft Graffa, rolled in sugary mist. So the next time you’re at Camden Market, make sure to step in and indulge in our delicacy and take a trip through the traditional flavours of Naples.