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Carnival Sweets in Tuscany
From cenci to frittelle: all the sweetness of the most colourful festival

Also known as stracci, crogetti, frappole, strufoli or, outside Tuscany, chiacchiere, bugie, frappe and galani. The term cenci was coined by none other than Pellegrino Artusi, writer of Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (published in 1981), in which recipe no. 595 is for these thin and crispy strips of fried dough.

These are traditional not only for Carnival but also Father’s Day. In Florence the rice is cooked in milk, the liqueur used is marsala and a handful of raisins is added to the mixture. There are no raisins in the Siena version, which replaces the marsala with rum. Pistoia has its own recipe too, including raisins but opting for the local Vin Santo. In Arezzo it’s the same recipe with the addition of orange peel; the Prato version has raisins, orange and rum.

One of the most popular Carnival cakes, schiacciata is a must on Florentine tables, decorated with the obligatory lily, emblem of the city. It’s also mentioned in Pellegrino Artusi’s book. In the 18th century it was also called Schiacciata delle Murate, because it was traditionally made by nuns in the convent of the same name in Via Ghibellina. Fluffy and delicious, its secret is a small amount of lard, added gradually to the mixture.

Typical of Lamporecchio (Pistoia province), this cake is thought to have been around since the 15th century, and baked for Fat Thursday. The ingredients are similar to those of brigidini, another traditional local speciality; but while the latter are thin, crisp wafers, the berlingozzo is a soft, deep ring-shaped cake, glazed with orange juice and sugar.

It’s not Carnival in Fucecchio – since at least the 19th century, apparently – without these ring-shaped biscuits flavoured with aniseed.

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