Recipe: Cenci – a traditional Carnival sweet from Tuscany

Italian carnival sweets

Aqra din ir-riċetta bil-Malti: Cenci – ħelu tipiku Taljan għal żmien il-karnival

Cenci is a sweet typical of the Tuscany region of Italy during Carnival. It can also be found throughout Italy with different names. Cenci means rags, since the sweet is made with shapes of different sizes like bits of rags.

Time: 35 min, and 30 min to cool


  • 300 g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 g icing sugar, more to sprinkle
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp brandy or grappa
  • Oil for frying


  1. Beat the eggs and add the olive oil and brandy or grappa while still beating.
  2. Add the sugar, then sieve the flour on top.
  3. Combine into a pastry and knead until it is smooth. Roll into a ball, cover in cellophane and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 3 mm and with a pastry wheel cut out strips of about 15 cm x 3 cm. Use the pastry wheel to cut a line in the middle of  each strip without getting to the edges.
  5. Place a generous amount of oil in a saucepan to deep fry the strips. The oil is hot enough when a small piece of pastry thrown in immediately starts to sizzle and browns within seconds. 
  6. Deep fry the pastry strips until they become golden. Turn them once while they are cooking. Lift them from the oil using a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil.
  7. Sprinkle icing sugar over them and serve.

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