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An overhead shot of cenci fried pastries on a plate dusted with sugar
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Cenci di Carnevale (Italian fried pastries for carnival)

Cenci di Carnevale are sweet and crispy Italian fried pastries made and eaten for carnival. They have a beautiful citrus and vanilla aroma and are dusted in powdered sugar before serving. Also known as Chiacchiere, Crostoli, Frappe and Bugie (just to name a few).
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Resting time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 48 - 50 pastries
Calories: 98kcal
Author: Emily Kemp


  • Pasta machine or rolling pin
  • Plastic wrap (cling film UK)


  • 2 cups* Italian 00 flour *spooned and leveled (280g)
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar (superfine) (30g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda UK)
  • Zest of 1 orange or lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature (30g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Italian liqueur such as Marsala, Tuaca, Strega, Grappa or Vin Santo
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting (icing sugar UK)
  • Sunflower oil for frying


To make the dough

  • Put the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and orange zest in a bowl and stir until fully combined. Add the butter and crumb it into the flour using your hands until it resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the flour for the liquids.
  • In a small bowl mix the eggs, vanilla and liqueur together. Pour them into the flour mixture and stir to combine everything together with a fork.
  • Once a rough dough starts to form, use your hands to knead it for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.

Rolling out

  • Once rested, cut the cenci dough in half (wrap one half back up in plastic wrap). Flatten the piece of dough so it’s thin enough to fit through the widest setting on your pasta machine.
  • Sprinkle your work surface and pasta machine with a little flour. Pass the dough through the widest setting then continue to pass the dough through your machine whilst going up one number at a time until the dough is almost paper-thin. You may need to cut the dough in half if it gets too long so it’s easier to manage.
  • On most pasta machines number 0 is the widest setting and number 9 is the thinnest. I go up to number 8. The thinner the dough the crispier your cenci will be.
  • Using a knife of fluted pasta cutter cut the cenci into strips about 2 inches wide then cut a slit in the middle of each one making sure not to cut all the way to the edges. This is a traditional way of cutting them but you can cut them into any rough shape you like.


  • Heat the sunflower oil in a large heavy-bottom based pan, the oil should be around 2 inches deep.
  • If you have a sugar thermometer it should be around 180-190C (350-375F). If not test a small piece of dough, if lots of bubbles surround the dough and it turns golden within a few seconds, the oil is ready.
  • Fry the cenci in batches for a few seconds on each side until golden brown and bubbly. Drain them on kitchen paper as you go.
  • Once cooled, arrange them on a serving plate and dust with powdered sugar.



  • Measuring flour - if using cups make sure to spoon the flour into the cup and level it off with a knife otherwise you may over measure the flour. As always a kitchen scale will ensure accurate results every time.
  • Drain on kitchen towels - it's really important to drain the cenci on kitchen towels so they stay crisp and don't taste too oily.
  • keep the dough covered - I roll out one half of the dough at a time and make sure the other half of the dough is wrapped up in cling film to stop it from drying out. Also try not to use too much flour when rolling out (just enough so it doesn't stick).
  • Fry with caution - always take great care when frying with hot oil. Use a heavy based pot so it can't be knocked over easily and never leave it unattended.
  • Storage - the cenci will keep well for 5-7 days. Store in a cool, dry place.


Calories: 98kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 54mg | Potassium: 14mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 24IU | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg