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I cenci di carnevale (Carnival typical pastries)

There's no Carnival in Italy without some sort of deep fried, sweet pastries, usually served at room temperature dusted in icing sugar. Each region has their slightly different version of these: in Tuscany we call them "Cenci", in the north east and north west (as well as all along the Alps and Dolomites) they call them "Crostoli", in Rome they call them "Frappe", everywhere else they call them "Chiacchiere" (which translates to "Chats", presumably as eaten with friends over a chat)


  • 250gr plain flour

  • 25gr melted butter

  • 25gr caster sugar

  • 85ml Limoncello or Sambuca (if you like aniseed)

  • The grated peel of 1 lemon (organic, washed, take care not to grate the white part underneath)

  • 1 egg

  • 1 pinch of fine salt

  • Roughly 150gr of icing sugar (maybe more, may be less, to dust them once ready and cool)


  • Mix the flour, salt, the lemon peel, and the caster sugar in a bowl

  • Add the melted butter (at room temperature), the egg, and the limoncello

  • Mix it all with a spoon until everything gets absorbed well

  • Put the dough onto the table and knead it for a few mins, until nice and elastic

  • Wrap it well in cling film and let it rest a minimum of 30 mins (I usually wait 2 hours)

  • Take a piece out of the dough (leaving the rest well wrapped) and flatten it well with a rolling pin until you get a long piece, as thin as possible

TIP: If you have the machine to thin the pasta, use that one. I use this.

If you use the machine, start from the thicker setting an progress down to the thinner one.

  • Cut the thin dough in rectangles, it's customary to make a cut also in the center (not reaching the ends though)

  • Make sure to dust with flour each layer of prepared rectangles

  • Heat the oil in a deep pan (use lots of oil) and fry 2 rectangles at a time to ensure they have plenty of room

TIP: They will take literally 1 min per side, as soon as you see the edges coloured turn them over and you'll see them nice and golden

TIP: Have plenty of kitchen paper ready and ensure you layer kitchen paper on top of each cooked rectangle

  • Wait for everything to cool completely

  • Dust them with icing sugar (usig a small sieve as always)

  • Keep them wrapped in cling film or store them in an airtight container but not in the fridge

They keep for days

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