This is a delicious, light crispy dessert biscuit, best eaten at any time, but often with tea or coffee. People from the South West of France, especially in the Midi-Pyrénées region, lay claim to this speciality, but there are probably other regions that would argue that one too.
These are eaten traditionally at carnaval and Mardi Gras in France – usually in February, but dates vary throughout the country.
The best ones I have tried are on sale in a pâtisserie in Revel and on Revel market on Saturdays.
My neighbour swears that they should only be made when the temperature in the kitchen is over 25°c, she is an expert, but this works in a kitchen at 20 – 21°c too, I have tried.
It is very important not to skip the resting time of the mixture – if this is disregarded the oreillettes do not rise as well and lose their light, crispy texture.
Most recipes tell you to use Cognac or Armagnac but I prefer to use Pastis for a delicate aniseed flavour – you can choose to use either or just double-up on the orange blossom water.
Preparation: 30 minutes + 4 hours standing the dough
2 large eggs
300g plain flour
40g unsalted butter
30g caster sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon Pastis or Pernod
1 litre cooking oil in a wide frying pan
Icing sugar or caster sugar to dust the finished oreillettes.
Wash the lemon and dry it thoroughly before removing the zest.
Melt the butter carefully in a microwave, be careful that it does not boil and leave to cool off before adding to the flour in a mixing bowl along with the beaten eggs, the Pastis, the orange blossom water, the sugar, salt and the zest of the lemon.
Mix all together with a blunt knife and then knead gently to form a supple dough, be careful that it is not too wet nor too dry.
Put into the clean mixing bowl and leave, covered with a clean, damp tea-towel for four hours at room temperature.
I choose to use a pasta machine to roll out the dough, but you can use a rolling-pin.Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll out to about 2 or 3 mm thick and rectangles about 12 x 6 cm, cut with a zig-zag pasta wheel cutter – you can cut them as you like.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, do not burn, it needs to be hot enough to fry the oreillettes but not smoking.
Fry the oreillettes until lightly golden on both sides, lift out and place on kitchen paper.
When drained of the excess oil, dust the oreillettes with icing sugar or caster sugar on both sides then leave to cool before enjoying them with a cup of tea, tissaine or coffee.