These traditional sweets vary from region to region and are known in a variety of names such as, cenci (rags), modi (knots), sfrappole (bits and pieces) chiacchiere (gossips) and so on and so on. My Little Nonna, born in Tuscany in the 1800’s, made them for us and so we call them Cenci. We usually enjoyed them then, as we do now, with a glass of wine or Vin Santo. Whether Carnevale, Easter, Christmas or any special get together in between, Cenci is on the table with the other pastries.
- 1 lb flour – plus extra for dusting
- 3 ½ oz sugar
- 1 oz butter – softened
- 3 eggs – lightly beaten
- ¼ cup marsala or cognac
- 1 tsp vanilla
- oil for frying
- icing sugar – for sprinkling
- Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the center and add sugar, butter, eggs, Marsala or Cognac and vanilla.
- Mix well to form a dough.
- Turn out and knead on a floured surface until smoother. If you have a pasta machine it comes in handy here as you want to get the dough as thin as possible. A rolling pin is fine, too.
- Cut the dough in to strips and twit into different shapes, tie in a loose bow or pinch the edges with the tines of a fork.
- Heat oil in a frying pan with deep sides.
- When the oil is hot, fry a few strips at a time until golden.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain for a short while on paper toweling or kitchen paper.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle with icing sugar or powdered sugar.