Cenci are one of the typical sweets of Carnival of Italy. Along with the tradition of wearing costumes and participate in a parade throughout the region, as the Carnevale di Viareggio, Carnival means also delicious food.
I remember that, when I was a child, my grandmother used to prepare Cenci and rice fritters during the days of Carnival. It was hard to say which is the best for me, I was in love with both of them.
When she was making Cenci, I used to help her prepare all ingredients. I was having fun mixing them, feeling my hands stuck in the dough. But the thing I liked the most was using the pastry wheel to cut the dough creating different shapes to fry.
Cenci and its many names
In some parts of Tuscany, they are called Cenci or Stracci, which literally mean “rags”, due to its casual shape. But they are also known as Chiacchere (literally Chit-Chats) in the northern part of the region and in Milan. In other regions of Italy, people call them Crostoli, Frappe, Sfrappole or Bugie.
Whatever you call them, you will love this crispy tasty pastry. Once you start to eat them, you won’t be able to stop since you empty the tray.
Let’s celebrate Carnival and the Mardi Gras preparing these stripes of delicious sweet crisp pastries, following the “easy to make” recipe that my grandmother taught to me.
Put the flour into a bowl or on a wooden pastry board. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour all the eggs, salt, liquor, and sugar.
Mix all the ingredients with your hands to obtain a smooth dough that no longer sticks to your hands. In case, add a bit of flour to help you to stir it.
Let the dough rest, dusted with flour, under a towel for about 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out with a rolling pin (or with the pasta machine) until you obtain a really thin sheet of dough. Add a bit of flour in case you need. The thinner the dough is, the lighter Cenci will be once fried.
With a pastry wheel (or a knife), cut the pasta in stripes of about 3,5 inches long and 1,5 inches in width.
Heat the frying oil in a large pan. To be sure to have reached the right temperature, dip a piece of dough into the oil. When little bubbles come around the dough, the oil is ready.
Fry Cenci for about 20/30 seconds each side until they get a golden brown colour.
Pull Cenci out of the oil, drain off the oil lying them on a kitchen paper for a few minutes.
Dust them with the powdered sugar or with caster sugar.
Cenci are good to taste both warm and cold.
Serve Cenci with a glass of sweet wine, Vin Santo or Martini Vermouth. They are so delicious.
I have a passion for travels and photography, puzzles and Lego, beer and Fiorentina (both bistecca and football team). Always happy when I get a flight ticket on my hand. Proudly Tuscan, one of my desires is to show people the hidden gems of my birthland!
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