These are typical fritters made for Carnevale. They are extremely simple and very popular all over Italy. Of course, each region has its own slight variations in the name and ingredients.
In most recipes, there is the possible addition of liquor (grappa, Sambuca) and butter, but I prefer my grandmother’s recipe.
Replacing the liquor with vinegar is a touch of pure genius, even if it seems quite odd. Adding liquors helps the dough not absorb the oil during the frying, but vinegar works even more efficiently, and the taste evaporates during the cooking. This is a recipe that, in spite of being a fried food, is much lighter than its official version.
Cenci – Carnival fritters
The most popular and simple fritters in Italy, my granmother’s variation of the standard recipe makes them even lighter and yummy.
- 1 cup 00 flour (130 gr.)
- 1 medium size egg
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (15 ml.)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (15 ml.)
- 1 tbsp white sugar (15 gr.)
- icing sugar (for sprinkling the fritters)
- peanut oil (for frying)
On a wooden pastry board pour the flour in a mound, make a hole at its center and pour the egg.
Add sugar, vinegar and olive oil in it to the mound.
Starting with a fork, slowly add the flour to the liquid in the middle, gradually adding more flour all the time. Mix well.
When all the flour is mixed in, start to knead the dough.
When smooth, roll out by hand using a rolling pin, turning as you work.
Roll the dough into a sheet about 2 mm thick. If using a pasta machine, continue to feed dough through rollers once at each setting, without folding, until you reach the second to narrowest setting.
Cut the dough in diamonds, to about 10cm (4”) long.
Carefully place the pieces into the oil. Fry the diamonds a few pieces at a time, turning carefully with two forks to gently lift each piece. The dough will bubble as it cooks.
When light brown, remove and let cool on paper towel. Sprinkle the icing sugar while still warm, and serve.