Zeppole, or fried Italian donuts, are a traditional food eaten to celebrate Saint Joseph's Day (Festa di San Giuseppe), but my family always made these dense donuts for breakfast on Christmas morning. This easy recipe without ricotta is simply coated in powdered sugar, and I like to use warm Nutella as a dipping sauce.
Heat milk, sugar, salt, and shortening in a saucepan until melted.
Transfer to bowl and cool to warm (too hot will kill the yeast)
Add 2 packets RapidRise yeast and stir.
Sift in 4 cups of flour, stirring to combine between each cup or two. Mix until smooth.
Place dough in greased bowl (I removed the dough from the bowl, greased it, and added it back to reduce dishes!). Cover with damp cloth or damp paper towel and let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
Heat a couple inches of oil in a heavy bottomed pan until rippling. Oil is ready when a small piece of test dough sizzles and bubbles rapidly immediately upon dropping into the oil.
Pinch off irregular pieces of dough, handling gently (don't squish all the air out!) and drop into the hot oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown and crispy on both sides. When dough rises to the surface and you see brown around the edges, flip donuts over with tongs. They should be nice and brown on the first side - if not, give them a couple more minutes before flipping.
Remove donuts and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Dust liberally with powdered sugar. Serve with Nutella for dipping, if desired.