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Italian Recipes

Cenci: the Italian Carnival Dessert

The cenci are fried sweets typical of the carnival period. In Tuscany cencio means piece of cloth and they are called so for this reason, because their shape resembles rags.

Traditionally it is one of the first desserts that grandchildren cook with grandmothers. As a child I was not allowed to fry but I always contributed in my own way by cutting the strips or sprinkling them with sugar. There are an infinite number of sayings about this delicious sweet, the one I prefer says that the rag does not lie: if you have eaten it you can see it from the sugar on the sweater.



Serves 6 


  • 280 gr of flour
  • 50 gr of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive oil
  • A pinch of salt
  • The grated rind of an orange
  • 1/2 glass of vin santo
  • A pinch of yeast
  • Powdered or granulated sugar for dusting



  1. On a pastry board place the flour in the center and place the sugar, eggs, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, yeast and grated orange zest.
  2. Work the ingredients with your hands for about ten minutes, adding just enough vin santo: the dough should be smooth and firm. Shape into a ball, wrap it in a cloth and let it rest for half an hour
  3. Roll out the on a floured pastry board to a thickness of about 2 mm. Cut into ribbons with the appropriate wheel. Put the frying pan on the heat and when the oil smokes, throw in the ribbons a little at a time. Drain them when they are gilded. Serve them warm and sprinkled with powdered or granulated sugar.