Classic Cenci – Italian Fried Dough for Carnevale

An Italian confection typically made during Carnevale.

Cenci – Italian Fried Dough


  • 120 Grams of All-Purpose Flour 1 Cup
  • 1 Tablespoon of Granulated Sugar
  • Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Orange Zest or Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cold Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Large Whole Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of White Wine, Sweet Marsala or Grappa
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting


  • In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt and orange zest (if using).
  • Add the butter and using your fingers work the butter into the flour until you can no longer see any butter pieces.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, wine and vanilla extract (if using).
  • Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and using a fork mix together until you have a shaggy dough.
  • Using your hands form the dough into a rough ball.
  • Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • Cut the dough in 4 pieces and work with one piece at a time. Make sure the other pieces are wrapped in plastic so they don’t dry out.
  • Flatten out the piece of dough and roll it through the widest setting on your pasta roller.
  • Fold the dough in half and roll it again through the widest setting.
  • Next roll the dough through each setting ending with the thinnest.
  • Lay the piece of dough on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 1 ½” wide strips.
  • Cut a slit in the middle of each strip.
  • Thread one end into the slit to form a twist.
  • Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining pieces of dough.
  • Fill a 2 quart pot with vegetable oil 2” deep.
  • Heat the oil to 360-365° F.
  • Fry 3-4 pieces at a time for about 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Do not overcook.
  • After each frying each batch check the temperature of the oil. If the oil temperature is too low they will be greasy, if the temperature is too high they will burn.
  • Remove the fried dough from the oil and place on a piece of paper towel to drain.
  • Store the pieces in an airtight container and dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

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