Updated: Jun 23
This past Wednesday was the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist and I wanted to do something special. 💦 It also means that we are 6 months away from Christmas! Usually I'm soaking in the sun and enjoying the Texas heat but let's be honest this year has been something for the books and being out and about is a social no-no so I'm ready for that feel good season! 🎄
The life long mission of St. John the Baptist was to always give Christ the glory and prepare people to do that as well. Repent + Believe in the Gospel! He wanted them to KNOW Jesus, the way that he knew his own cousin from inside Elizabeth’s womb. So he does this by baptizing people, washing them of their sins and preparing them to stand holy in the sight of Christ. Have you ever wondered why St. John the Baptist was baptizing people when that was not an official part of Judaism? Baptism was unofficially practiced by some Jewish people (including the Essenes) and was a sign of repentance that was often repeated. It is likely that this is what influenced St. John the Baptist's ministry given that he may have very well known this group. This custom is of course different than the one we follow as Jesus baptizes us not just "with water" but also"with the Holy Spirit". (Luke 3:26)
In Matthew 3:4 we learn that St. John the Baptist lived in the wilderness when he received his call as the forerunner for Christ. In that verse we see that his food was locusts and wild honey which is why it is our family tradition to incorporate honey into dinner or a treat. I know some might encourage a grasshopper challenge 🦗 but I just can’t do that! Instead, I did a couple of things this year, Italian Honey Clusters, also known as Struffoli, and Honey Basil Chicken Sliders which were so yummy. We highly recommend!
I call this recipe the weeknight version because it is not the traditional way of making Struffoli but a much simpler version for an evening treat. I apologize in advance but this one is not a picture by picture! I cut the recipe in half so if you are only serving a few people that is more than plenty.
struffoli, st john the baptist, honey treat
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rise Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Yields: 10 Servings
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbsp orange zest
1 teaspoon anise extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
For Garnish (Optional Ideas)
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk the four eggs on medium for 2-3 minutes.
2. Pour in 1 tbsp orange zest, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp anise, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp salt, and 2 1/2 cups flour. Mix that together on medium until the dough comes together. It will have a sticky consistency.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl and turn it out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2-3 minutes until it is no longer sticky. If it still feels sticky, sprinkle in more flour little by little while kneading until it is no longer sticky.
Note: We are aiming for smooth and stretchy!
4. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover it with a tea towel. Let it stand for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Note: Towards the end of the rise time, lightly flour a large plate or baking sheet so that when you form your dough balls they have a non-stick place to sit.
5. Turn the dough back out on a floured surface and divide it into six pieces. Roll each piece into a rope roughly 1/4" in diameter.
6. Cut each rope into 1 cm pieces and roll them to form balls. Try to make them the same size!
7. In a dutch oven or pot, pour in your oil and heat to 350 degrees.
Note: You can also heat your oven to 200 degrees and take out a heatproof bowl or small cake tin so that when you are done frying small batches you can keep them warm in the oven.
8. Place them in the hot oil until golden brown for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Take them out with a slotted spoon or frying spatula and drain them on a paper towel lined plate. Once they are drained of the oil put them in the cake tin to stay warm in the oven.
9. In a saucepan, pour in the honey and heat over low to medium temperature until the honey has thinned.
10. Drizzle the honey over the dough balls and mix together until they are thoroughly coated.
11. Garnish with sprinkles, powdered sugar, slivered almonds, or maraschino cherries.
As I was writing for the dough to set I read an article that highlighted an interesting fact to go along with the popular St. John the Baptist quote, "he must increase but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
The feast of the nativity of John the Baptist occurs just days after the summer solstice when the days are actually getting shorter (decreasing) ⬇️. Christ’s nativity falls just after the winter solstice when the days are getting longer (increasing) ⬆️. What a humbling and difficult message for us, if we are to be like St. John the Baptist that means we must make way for Jesus into our own lives and the lives of others. We too must decrease so that Jesus can increase, placing less emphasis on ourselves and giving more worship to God. Proclaiming and praising Him as a church, not being afraid to speak out for truth, and building an intimate relationship with him as John did.
Hoping you enjoy this recipe just as much as we did! Follow along for more liturgical living, it's more fun when we participate all together. FB: @hisgirlsunday IG: @steffani_hisgirlsunday.