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You'll need

1 tsp fennel seeds 250 gm (1⅔ cup) plain flour, sieved, plus extra for dusting 50 gm (⅓ cup) pure icing sugar, sieved, plus extra for dusting 2 eggs, lightly beaten 40 gm softened butter 20 ml grappa Finely grated rind of 2 lemons For deep-frying: vegetable oil


  • 01
  • Dry-roast fennel seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat until fragrant (2-3 minutes), cool, finely crush with a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  • 02
  • Process flour, icing sugar, eggs, butter, grappa, lemon rind and fennel seeds in a food processor until a soft dough forms (1-2 minutes). Turn onto a lightly floured surface, pat into a disc (add extra flour if sticky), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest (1 hour).
  • 03
  • Divide dough in half and roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface to 2mm thick. Cut with a pasta wheel into 3cm x 25cm strips, tie into loose knots and set aside on a tray lined with baking paper and dusted with flour.
  • 04
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan over high heat to 180C. Deep-fry cenci in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and puffed (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit), then drain on absorbent paper. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm.
This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Tuscany is perhaps Italy's best-known region, and its wealthy, powerful city states and their passion for the arts, culinary and otherwise, gave rise to a rich tradition at the table. Cenci, the name of these deep-fried biscuits from Florence, means rags, a reference to the shape cut from the dough.

At A Glance

  • Serves 24 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 24 people

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