Firi firi is a coconut donut that is as delicious as its name is pretty. This is a Polynesian specialty that is traditionally eaten at breakfast. Originally from the island of Tahiti, it brings an exotic breeze to our taste buds.
What is firi firi?
Firi firi is ubiquitous at breakfasts in Polynesia, and more precisely in Tahiti. It is usually eaten with coffee on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It requires only a few ingredients in its preparation. Its particularity is based on the strong coconut aroma which explains why the people of Polynesia are very fond of it.
It contains coconut milk and coconut water in equal quantity. Coconut water is used to flavor the donut dough. It is responsible for this irresistible coconut taste. It is therefore essential and hard to substitute to make these small traditional donuts. As for the coconut milk, it is at the origin of the soft texture of the firi firi.
The other particularity of the firi firi is their shape. It comes in many shapes, however, the most common in Polynesia is the 8 shape. The dough is very sticky but if you use enough flour to dust the work surface, you will get pretty donuts. The firi firi is eaten with sugar sprinkled on top. But some consume it plain, just lukewarm.
How to make firi firi?
Those who do not like to spend hours in the kitchen will be happy. Arm yourself with 2 silicone mats placed on two separate baking trays. On the first mat, roll the dough pieces in the flour. Shape them into eight shapes and place them on the second baking mat. Repeat the process until the dough is used up. Let the donuts rise for 15 minutes before frying them in the cooking oil.
Some are very particular about the 8-shaped donuts. After 15 minutes, with the handle of a large wooden spoon, you can widen the two holes of the eight shape. Be careful to be gentle during this operation or you will rip your donuts.
Donut recipes around the world
The firi firi has many cousins around the world, and here are just a few of them.
Bambalouni is a donut from Tunisia. It comes in the form of a sugar-coated ring that is often prepared at home, although street vendors and fast food stalls also sell it.
The Berlin ball or Berliner is a donut of Austro-German origin made from leavened dough. It is usually stuffed with jam, pastry cream, and covered with icing sugar. The Berliner are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve and during Carnival.
In Morocco, the sfenj (which means “sponge” in Arabic) is very popular throughout the Maghreb and can also be found in particular in Algeria and Morocco. It is a donut made from leavened bread-type dough made of flour or very fine semolina, that is kneaded for a long time. After it is fried in oil, it is sprinkled with sugar or soaked in honey.
Halka tassili are traditional donuts from Turkey. The name halka tassili can be translated as “candy ring”. The big difficulty is shape the donuts in the form of rings because the dough is very sticky.
Filhós are large donuts from Portugal that are often lightly scented with arguadente (local brandy) and orange. In order to savor them hot, the donut dough is usually prepared before the meal, to give it enough time to rise properly. The donuts are then fried, once people have returned from the mass. The filhos are sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon at the last moment so that they do not soften.
Hoping that you will not skip on the coconut water while preparing your firi firi. Enjoy!
- 2½ cups flour
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup coconut water (at 85 F)
- ½ vanilla pod , split lengthwise and scraped
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- Icing sugar (to sprinkle)
- 2 tablespoons flour (to sprinkle)
Pour and dissolve the yeast in the coconut water.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, coconut milk, yeast dissolved in the coconut water, vanilla seeds and knead until obtaining a smooth and homogeneous dough.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
Then, sprinkle some flour over it to prevent it from sticking.
Separate the dough into 10 pieces and form balls. Sprinkle a little flour while work the dough until it does not stick to the fingers.
Roll these balls into small sausages and form the shape of an 8, characteristic of these donuts.
Let the donuts rise again on a floured work surface at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a frying pan, heat a large amount of vegetable oil at 350 F and fry the firi firi on both sides until golden brown.
Remove the firi firi from the pan with a skimmer and place on paper towels.
Sprinkle the firi firi with icing sugar.
Enjoy them hot.