Cenci

1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar 
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
zest of 1 orange
2 Tablespoons Vin Santo or Rum
Canola oil for frying

for the topping:
additional confectioners sugar
honey (optional)

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and the confectioner's sugar in a bowl and combine thoroughly.  Place mixture on the counter in a pile and make a well in the middle (like you do to make fresh pasta). 

Break eggs into the well.  With a fork, beat the eggs and then add the other ingredients to the eggs and whisk in. Start pulling the flour mixture into the egg mixture and combine.  Knead until a nice dough forms, adding a little more flour if you need it.  A pastry scraper helps with this process. Dust the dough ball with flour and wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes. 

Cut the dough into four pieces.  Roll each piece out until it is fairly thin - I used a pasta machine and rolled it out until setting #4.  With a pastry wheel, slice half-inch strips out of the sheets.  Cut these strips into 4-inch lengths.  You can either leave the strips like this to be fried, or tie them into bows, which I like to to do.  Place your unfried dough strips or bows onto a floured sheet pan (you will probably need two) until they are all done.

Heat the canola oil for frying until it is between 325° and 350° F.  If you don't have a fryer, just use a medium saucepan.  Pour enough canola oil so there is about 3 inches of oil.  You can test the temperature with a candy thermometer, if you have one.  If you don't, you can throw in a little scrap of dough when you think the oil is hot enough and see if it turns golden.  

When the oil is ready, place a few of the dough bows onto a spider and lower into the hot oil. Be sure to shake off the excess flour from the dough strips before frying them - too much flour will burn in your oil and make it unusable much sooner. Fry the dough until it is golden - this will be a matter of seconds.  I like to take the spider and roll them around in the oil, so all the sides turn golden.  Remove with the spider and place on paper towels to drain and cool.  Repeat with remaining dough. 

When the dough has all been fried, dust generously with powdered sugar.  You can also add a little honey if you like, but I think it makes them a little too sweet. They last for several days at room temperature.

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