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A crisp, mouth-watering sweet pastry typically served for Carnevale (Italian Halloween) and during Easter, all over Italy. It has different names all over the peninsula, such as cenci, chiacchiere, sfrappole and stracci. Ricardo Messora shares his recipe for cenci, as he prepares to open Sartago restaurant in Melbourne.






Skill level

Average: 2.2 (7 votes)


  • 120 g soft unsalted butter
  • 240 g caster sugar
  • 1.06 kg plain flour, sifted
  • 2 tbsp vin santo
  • 2 lemons, zested and grated
  • 2 oranges, zested and grated
  • 8 whole eggs
  • oil, for deep-frying
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time 1 hour

Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or hand mixer. Slowly add the flour.

Add the wine and the lemon and orange zests and mix.

Pour in a beaten egg at a time (you may need less eggs, depending on their size). The dough is ready when the sides start to come away from the bowl and the consistency is similar to fresh pasta.

Rest the dough in the fridge for 1 hour.

Once rested, roll the pastry to 3mm thick. Cut into shapes with a little zigzag wheel (every piece should have a little cut in the middle).

Heat a saucepan or deep-fryer with enough oil to deep-fry the pastries.

Deep-fry at 180°C until golden brown. Only cook a few at a time, and turn over so both sides are brown and crispy.

Cool on kitchen paper and dust with plenty of icing sugar.