How to Make Cenci for Carnevale: An Illustrated Recipe

Cenci in a Florentine Pastry Shop

Cenci in a Florentine Pastry Shop

To begin at the beginning, though the word Cencio generally means rag, come Carnevale it also means a very simple, supremely tasty pastry whose many aliases include Frappe, Chiacchere (gossips), Lattughe (lettuce leaves), Busie (lies), and Nastrini (ribbons), while Ada Boni, who borrows Pellegrino Artusi’s recipe, uses the more poetic “Lover’s Knots.” They are very pretty when carefully made, so she is probably right.

Making Cenci: A Ball Of Dough

Making Cenci: A Ball Of Dough

To make a batch of cenci you’ll need:

  • 1 3/4 cups (225 g) flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (30 g) confectioners sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or grappa
  • A pinch of salt
  • More confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  • Oil for deep frying

Make a fairly stiff dough with these ingredients, kneading it thoroughly, and adding more flour if it comes out too soft. Flour it and let it rest, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for about an hour.

Making Cenci: Cutting Them Out

Making Cenci: Cutting Them Out

Roll the dough out into an eighth-of-an-inch (3 mm) thick sheet, and use a serrated pastry wheel to cut it into strips as long as your palm and two fingers wide.

Make a cut down the middle of each cencio (so as to obtain two strips joined at the ends) and twist the side strips without breaking them.

Making Cenci: Frying...

Making Cenci: Frying…

While you are cutting your cenci, set your oil to heat, either in a deep frier or in a pan atop the stove. Since cenci are delicately flavored, the oil should be new.

Slip several cenci into the hot oil. They will immediately rise to the surface, bubbling furiously.

Making Cenci: Gently Turn Them

Making Cenci: Gently Turn Them

Gently turn the cenci as they fry in the hot oil so they cook evenly.

Making Cenci: Drain Well...

Making Cenci: Drain Well…

Remove the cenci from the oil when they have become golden brown, putting them to drain on absorbent paper. Be careful not to over brown them, lest they become bitter.

Continue frying until you have cooked all of the cenci. They will look inviting at this point, but patience!

Making Cenci: Dust with Powdered Sugar

Making Cenci: Dust with Powdered Sugar

Take a small finely woven wire mesh strainer and fill it with confectioner’s sugar. Dust the cenci with the sugar, and they’re ready!

Making Cenci: Enjoy!

Making Cenci: Enjoy!

This recipe on a single page

Frittelle di Riso, Rice Fritters: Another Carnival Treat


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Categories: Biscotti and other Sweet Treats, Holiday dishes, Illustrated Recipes And More, Kid Foods

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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