Some people add a little lemon juice or lemon zest to the dough but this recipe did not call for any.
Here’s another recipe from the classic 19th century Italian Cookbook, The Art of Eating Well, by Pellegrino Artusi.
Cenci are a Florentine winter treat, made from Epiphany to Mardi Gras. This deep-fried pastry looks like little rags and tastes a little like fried dough, but not as heavy and never greasy.
- All-purpose flour (2 1/4 cups)
- Butter (2 tbsp.)
- Confectioners’ sugar (1/3 cup, plus more for dusting the finished cenci)
- Large eggs (2)
- Brandy (1 tbsp.)
- Salt (just a pinch)
- Water (Optional; 1/4 cup or less; just enough to make dough)
- Vegetable oil or lard (enough for deep frying)
I recommend using a cast iron skillet when deep frying. Get the oil good and hot, but not smoking.
What I did:
Making the Dough: Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl, making a fairly stiff dough. You may have to add a little water to incorporate all of the ingredients. Knead the dough thoroughly on a lighted floured surface. Add a little flour if dough comes out too soft. Shape into a ball and flour it. Let it rest, covered, for about an hour.
After it rests, the dough will much softer and easier to roll out. (If the dough formed a crust while it sat, knead it a little before rolling it out.) Roll it out into a thin rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick).
Use a pastry wheel (or knife) to cut it into strips as long as your palm and two fingers wide.
Twist and crinkle the strips and then fry them in the hot oil or lard.
Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to catch the extra oil.
Transfer to a clean plate and when cool, dust them with confectioners’ sugar.
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