Old dough starter was used in the past. Today many women use baking powder, but the texture and lightness of the yeast is very important, I think. Traditionally the first of the lalangia was shaped in the form of a cross, and the last ones like little dolls, for the children of the family.
For about 50 pieces
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons honey (preferably Greek, thyme-scented), more to serve (optional)
5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fine grated orange zest
1 cup olive oil
1 cup orange juice
Olive oil, or olive and sunflower oil, for deep frying
In a saucepan simmer the water with the cinnamon and cloves for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the honey and let cool to just warm. Pass through a sieve and set aside, discarding the solids.
In a bowl mix 4 1/2 cups flour with the yeast, salt, and zest. Make a well in the center and pour in the olive oil. Rub with your fingers, so that the oil is absorbed by the flour and the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the orange juice and as much of the honey water as needed. Knead on the working surface, adding more flour or water to make a firm and smooth dough. Place in an oiled bowl and let rise for about 2 hours, until doubled.
Divide into walnut-size pieces, and roll each piece to make a cord, thick as your small finger.
Heat about 2 inches of oil in a saucepan to 375 Fahrenheit (190 C). Before you drop each dough-cord in the oil, join the two ends to make rings. Fry until golden and transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzling with more honey, if you like.
NOTE to the COOK: This is a recipe I have not yet tested in the States, so I would appreciate your feedback. Greek flours are quite different from the US ones, and you may need to adjust the flour/liquid ratio, as well as the amount of yeast and the rising time.