Diples are a traditional Greek sweet made of fried pastry coated in a honey syrup and topped with walnuts. The word Diples in Greece comes from the word diplono (δι-πλώ-νω) which means folding. They're pronounced The-ples, and are named this way because of the dough being folded while it gets fried.
Originating in Peloponnese Greece, Diples were originally served (and still are in those areas) at weddings. Tradition has it that the more folds a Dipla (singular of the word Diples) has the more blessings the couple will have on their married life.
Today, Diples are served all around Greece during Christmas time. They're very tasty, extremely crispy (when you follow the Authentic recipe), and warmingly sweet.
The Authentic Diples dough is basically the same as pasta dough. And ideally kneaded by hand without the use of an electric mixer. It's a very simple dough to make and the most important thing to pay attention to is letting the dough rest properly. And also the dough should be firm enough and not too moist in order to become very very crispy once fried.
You can make Greek Diples the easy or the hard way. What I mean by this, is that you have the option to make them folded (the difficult way), which will require you to practice on a few before you get the hang of it. Or go the easy way and cut the dough into triangles and fry it without folding it. You do have another option of cutting the dough into small squares and twisting them to create little bows. Which is more festive and good-looking than a triangle.
How To Make Diples
Making The Dough
As I said, the dough for making Diples is almost the same as that of pasta dough. Pasta dough is a firm dough made of eggs and flour. This dough is different only by the addition of a small amount of lemon juice, a tiny bit of baking soda, a bit of brandy (or Ouzo which is used traditionally), and a bit of olive oil.
To make the dough you lightly beat the eggs in a bowl with a hand whisk. In a separate bowl, you mix the lemon juice, baking soda, brandy or Ouzo, olive oil, and a very small amount of sugar and salt. Then pour this mixture into the eggs and start to incorporate the flour in batches sifted. In the beginning, you mix it with the whisk until the dough starts to get firmer. You then need to start mixing it with your hands.
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Once all the flour is incorporated into the dough knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. It's not a very soft dough that's why I give this time spacing. You may knead it slowly for 10 minutes or more vigorously for 5 minutes. The dough should stop sticking to your hands. If after kneading it, it still leaves fragments on your hands, add a tiny bit more flour. The more you knead it the more stretchy the dough becomes and this helps with the rolling of the dough later on.
Let the dough rest for at least 1 hour and a half at room temperature. Resting of the dough is very important in this recipe as the eggs are the main moisturizing agent in this dough and need more time than water does to absorb and combine with flour.
Rolling The Dough
Once the dough has rested cut into 4 equal pieces. Shape the first piece into a round ball and then flatten it to a disk. Roll it open on a flat working surface that you have lightly dusted with flour. Dust the dough on top with flour also and then start to roll up and down.
Rolling TIPSWhenever the dough starts to feel sticky while you roll it dust with flour. Both the working surface as well as the top of the dough. Spread the flour evenly with your hands all over the dough. And don't forget to flip the dough often.
You should make a long strip that's about 90 to 100 cm long (35-inches) and about 25 cm wide (10-inches). The thinner you roll the dough the better. But if you can't make it that long it's okay.
Once the dough is rolled, you have to let it rest again for 15-20 minutes. This is done because if you use the dough right away, and start cutting it to make the Diples, it's going to be so elastic that will crawl back in and become smaller again. So in order to be able to cut the dough and hold its shape, you have to let it rest laid flat.
Women used to do this, by laying a cotton sheet somewhere on a couch or a large table and then laying the dough flat on top. Then cover it with the sheet on top as well so it won't air dry. You can do this on your kitchen counter or any flat surface that works for you as long as it's long enough for the dough to lay flat. You may even use tea towels to cover it as long as they're made of fabric that doesn't leave fibers on the dough.
Once the dough has rested again, you may go ahead and cut and divide it into 4-5 squares (depending on how long you rolled open the dough). Trim off any uneven edgings if needed. If you are not going to do the folding cut the dough into small pieces either squares to twist and make bows or small triangles.
Frying And Rolling
Now, the hard part. You will need a wide pan that fits the large dough squares. If you have cut the dough into smaller pieces it doesn't matter if it's a wide pan as you can fry them in batches. If you decide to do the folding you'll be frying them one by one.
Add plenty of frying oil to the pan. Filling the pan almost by ⅔. I like to mix half a cup of olive oil with that oil as it gives extra flavor. Heat the oil to about 180 degrees if it's 170 it's okay but try not to go over 180. Also, try to keep the temperature to a standard throughout the frying of all the Diples.
Take the first dough rectangle and place it flat in the pan. It will start to create bubbles on its surface and get white in color. Count to 8. Then use two forks or if it's easier for you cooking tweezers and flip it upside down. Take a cooking fork and place the edge of the dough (the one closest to you) between the fork's teeth. Then start to roll it towards the other edge like you would roll spaghetti around your fork. You will need to use another fork a plain one, holding it with your other hand to help you roll the dough. Then hold the rolled Dipla down with the fork to fry without unfolding.
If you would prefer an easier dessert in the same style, try Loukoumades. They're the Greek version of donuts, very easy to make yet still cozy and sweet. You can even use the syrup from diples to dip them in. Just make sure the syrup is cold and the Loukoumades warm!
Fry each Dipla for no more than a minute. It should get just a light golden-ish color all over. Then grab hold of it and hold it straight for the oil to drain off from its center. Place the Diples in a large pan covered with paper towels and place them in order to stand all around the walls of the pan and drain.
Once all the Diples are fried, you can go ahead and make the syrup.
The Syrup For Diples
The syrup for Diples is a thick one flavored with honey, orange, and cinnamon. You can use it to drizzle the Diples on top (if you don't want them too sweet) or soak each one right into the syrup for a few seconds. If you decide to dip the Diples into the syrup make sure you use a wide pot that fits them.
You can even skip the syrup altogether and drizzle them with just honey. Just heat the honey over low heat and drizzle on top of the Diples.
Authentic Diples - Fried Pastry With Honey And Walnuts
- 5 eggs
- 500 grams (4 cups + 1-2 tbsp) all-purpose flour sifted
- ½ lemon juiced
- 40 ml brandy or ouzo
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- frying oil plus ½ cup olive oil
- flour for rolling the dough
For The Syrup:
- 600 grams (3 cups) sugar
- 250 grams (¾ cup) honey
- 100 ml orange juice fresh (about 1 large orange)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice fresh
- 400 ml water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
To Sprinkle On Top:
- 200 grams walnuts finely ground
- ground cinnamon
Make The Dough:
- In a small bowl mix together the lemon juice, brandy, sugar, salt, baking soda and olive oil.
- In a mixing bowl beat the eggs lightly with a hand whisk for 2-3 minutes. Then add the dissolved baking soda mixture and whisk to combine.
- Now incorporate the flour into the egg mixture one cup at a time. After the first two cups are incorporated, start to mix the dough with your hands. Until all the flour is mixed into the dough.
- Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until it stops sticking to your hands. If it still sticks add a bit more flour. Be careful though not to add too much.
- Shape the dough into a ball and rub it with olive oil all over so it won't air dry. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rest at room temperature for about 1 hour and a half.
- You will need a large working surface to roll open this dough. So a big table would be ideal for this.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take the first piece of dough, shape into a round disk and place it on your working surface that you have floured lightly. Add the remaining pieces back to the bowl.
- Using a rolling pin, start to roll the dough up and down. Flipping it every now and then and dusting the surface and top of the dough with flour as needed.
- Open it to about 90cm to 1 meter long (35 inches) and about 25 cm wide (10 inches).
- Then use either a cotton sheet or tea towel and lay the dough flat on top (you can use any fabric that doesn't leave threads on the dough). Cover it with a piece of fabric on top as well. The dough has to rest this way for 15-20 minutes. This is done so the dough holds its shape. For example, if proceed with cutting the rolled dough without letting it rest first it will crawl back together and become smaller again.
- Repeat this process for the remaining pieces of dough. You may even stack the rolled doughs on top of each other as long as there is fabric in between them.
- Heat plenty of frying oil in a large pan and wait until it gets to about 180°C / 356°F degrees. Try not to let the oil go over that temperature and become smoky hot as it will over-color the Diples.
- Cut the first long piece of dough into 5 rectangle-like pieces. Trim off the outer edges to make them look nice and even. Or cut into smaller pieces of your preference (triangles, squares twisted into bows) and fry in batches.
Roll And Fry Diples:
- Take the first rectangle and add it to the pan laying it flat into the oil. It will start to get white in color and form bubbles. Count to 8 and with two forks flip it upside down. Take one cooking fork and grab the one end of the dough (the one closest to you) and roll the dough around the fork like you would roll your spaghetti. Use a normal fork on the opposite edge to help you roll it.
- Once you rolled it all the way, use the fork to hold it down so it won't unroll.
- Cook for no more than a minute. Just until the Dipla gets light golden all over.
- Transfer to a large pan covered with paper towels. Place the Dipla in order to stand on the wall of the pan and let drain all the oil from its center.
- Proceed on making the remaining diples one at a time.
Make The Syrup:
- Add all of the ingredients for the syrup to a cooking pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 10-12 minutes completely uncovered and without stirring the syrup.
- Turn the heat off and take the diples one by one and add them to the hot syrup. Give a few turns so they coat all over and trasfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with plenty of ground walnuts on top.
- If you don't want your Diples that sweet you can drizzle the syrup on top instead. Or you can serve them with just some warmed honey on top. But don't forget the ground walnuts and cinnamon as they're a holiday must!
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