Cenci - Italian Carnival fried dough
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 
Serves: 4
Giulia Scarpaleggia shares her family's secret Carnival sweet treat recipes.
  • 240 g plain flour
  • 20 g butter
  • 20 g powdered sugar
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 orange, peel grated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons vin santo (or vodka, grappa, brandy…)
  • about 500 ml of vegetable oil for deep frying (I used vegetable oil, but would be fine extra virgin olive oil as well)
  1. Pour the flour onto a wooden pastry board or on a large working surface, make a well in the centre and put all the other ingredients there.
  2. Knead all the ingredients with your hands, as if to make homemade pasta. Knead it at least for 10 minutes, until the dough becomes very elastic and smooth, and it no longer sticks to your hands. Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes, dusted with flour and wrapped in a kitchen towel.
  3. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin or with the pasta machine to make long and paper thin sheets of pasta, about 1 or 2 mm thick, so that the cenci will be feather light when fried. Use a tiny amount of flour to help rolling out the dough, but try to dust it off or shake it off from the cenci, because it will be the first thing to burn in the hot frying oil, giving an unpleasant burnt flour taste to our cenci.
  4. Cut the pasta sheets with a knife or a wheel in strips about a span long and 3 inches in width.
  5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet and when it reaches 180°C deep fry the cenci. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, use some dough scraps to check when the oil is ready: it will be hot enough when, dipping a thin scrap, this will be immediately surrounded by many tiny bubbles.
  6. Fry the cenci in batches for about 30 seconds per side, checking them often and turning them with two forks or a pair of pliers.
  7. Carefully remove the cenci from the oil and drain them for a few minutes on a dish lined with kitchen paper, then dust them with caster sugar or powdered sugar. They are delicious warm, but, believe me, you will recognize all the flavours and aromas just when cold!
Recipe by Honest Cooking at https://honestcooking.com/cenciitalian-carnival-fried-dough/