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.
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 250 gm plain flour, sieved, plus extra for dusting (1⅔ cup)
- 50 gm pure icing sugar, sieved, plus extra for dusting (⅓ cup)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 40 gm softened butter
- 20 ml grappa
- Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
- For deep-frying: vegetable oil
- 1Dry-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.
- 2Process 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).
- 3Divide 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.
- 4Heat 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 .