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There are many regional versions of these sweet fried confections, called cenci, or rags, because originally they were made from tattered bits and pieces of leftover dough. My grandmother Saporito cut hers with a pastry wheel into narrow strips, loosely tied them into knots, and dropped them into hot oil. The crispy sweets were piled high on a plate and covered with a blanket of confectioner's sugar. This version, which comes from Montalcino, makes a dough that is a little softer than the southern type.


5 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

Grated zest of 1 large lemon

1 tablespoon vanilla

4 to 4 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Peanut oil for deep frying

Confectioner's sugar


In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with a whisk until well blended. Whisk in the lemon zest and vanilla. Sift 4 cups of the flour and the baking powder together and add to the egg mixture. Mix with your hands to form a ball of dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it until it is soft, but no longer sticky; add more flour if necessary.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out on a floured surface with a rolling pin to a thickness of 1/4 inch. With a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut into strips 5 1/2 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide. Make two 1-inch-long slits side by side in the center of each strip. Place the strips on a kitchen towel, and roll out and cut the remaining pieces of dough. A pasta machine, set to the finest setting, can also be used for thinning the dough.

In a deep fryer, heat the peanut oil to 375 F. Fry the strips a few at a time until golden brown. Drain on brown paper and let cool.

Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve.

Note: This recipe makes a lot, but you can freeze the fried dough. Freeze, unsugared, in plastic bags. To serve, let defrost completely, then sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.


  1. Barb's avatar


    I can hardly wait to make these. I just saw today on your show where you were at different Italian bakerys for a festival and they showed these. Thank You.. Barb
  2. Carolyn Hill's avatar

    Carolyn Hill

    I love your show. I called my sister to let her know about it. She lives about 100 miles from me, so when your show is on, we either watch it together (over the phone) or later call one another and discuss what you've made.
    I watch you on CREATE, something new for our area, and am I glad I found it.
    When I was growing up, I used to help my mother make Wandies at special times of the year. I was excited when I saw them on your show of Nov. 29,2010. They were a favorite of all my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I am eager to try your recipe and compare it to my family's recipe.
  3. Anthony Marascia's avatar

    Anthony Marascia

    Loved seeing the cenci this morning. You mentioned instead coating them with honey. My mother taught me to make these coated in sticky honey and white wine, delicious. She calls them pathe(SP). The family is from Endicott, NY via Bari.
    Do you know of this recipe or name?
  4. Dawn's avatar


    Love your recipes! I made this recipe last year and it reminds me so much of the "true" Italian bakeries in NY! They didn't make it very long in my house. Yum! But, I do have a question. How long do these cookies last? I want to make them for next week. Or can I make the dough and refrigerator it for a few days? Thank you!
  5. Dawn's avatar


    Never mind! I just noticed that I missed the bottom portion of the recipe that states I can freeze the dough. Thanks you, again!

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