Fried Dough (Italian Chrusty/Cenci or Polish Chrusciki)

Before my mother suffered any noticeable signs of Alzheimer’s Disease she started typing up recipes to pass along to her grandchildren. Mom was not the most organized person (I think she relied on her intellect and my Dad), eventually she couldn’t remember what she had typed. She decided to discard the original recipes as she went to help keep track. Sigh. Given her limited computer skills, not all her documents were saved. Add her worsening disease and suffice it to say, some things are lost.

Here are three versions rescued by my sister Gail before things really fell apart. Sadly we still have to guess.  If you read each recipe you will see that they contradict each other.  If you make each one please let me know which works well.

Polish Chrusciki
I am sure this is Mom’s recipe because it has an unreasonable amount of egg yolks in it and Mom would never have used rum. Also, Lois’ recipe contains Mace.

Ingredients
6 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon mace
2 to 2 ½ cups sifted flour (approximately)
Shortening for frying
Dust with confectionary sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla

Procedure
Beat egg yolks with salt and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in cream and mace. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Do not knead dough. Kneading will result in hard, tough cookies. Chill.
In a deep pot, heat shortening to 375F degrees.
Sprinkle confectionary sugar on pastry cloth. Using ¼ of the dough at a time, roll out dough as thin as possible. Cut into strips 1×3 inches. Make a slit down center of each strip (about 1 inch). Turn one end of strip in through slit. Fry a few strips at a time in preheated oil. Turning them at once. They are done when lightly brown on both sides.
Drain on paper towels. When cool dust with confectionary sugar or vanilla sugar.

Polish Chrusciki Version 2

Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 jigger rum

Add salt to eggs. Beat ill thick and lemon colored. Add sugar, butter and rum. Continue to beat. Fold in flour and knead on a well floured board until dough blisters.
Cut in half. Roll very thin. Cut in strips about 4” long. Slit each piece in center and pull on end through slit.

Fry in hot fat until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper.
Dust with powdered sugar when cool.


Italian Fried Crusty (Cenci)

These should be shaped into bow ties. Those directions are clearly missing below. Maybe one of my sisters will fill me in on how to shape them and I will adjust the recipe. Despite my family reputation as being a master of dough, I have never made Crusciki.

Ingredients
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
4 – 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Grated zest of lemon

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with a whisk until well blended. Whisk in the lemon zest and vanilla.

Sift the 4 cups of flour and baking powder together, add to egg mixture. Mix with your hands to form a ball of dough. Turn the dough 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. Work with one piece at time, cover remaining pieces with a clean dishtowel.

Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. (A pasta machine set to the finest setting, can also be sued for thinning the dough) Using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut into strips 5 1/2-inches long by 2 1/2-inches wide. Make two long slits, side by side, in the center of each strip. Here is where the twisting magic is missing Place on another towel, and continue rolling and cutting remaining pieces of dough.

In a deep pot, heat about 2-inches of vegetable oil to 375F. (Truthfully, you have to make up the temp here, I have two different recipes with 2 different temps.)

Fry the strips a few at a time until golden brown. Drain on paper towel (or brown paper bags, Mom’s favorite.) and let cool. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

These do not keep well. Store any leftovers in a tightly covered container. Other recipes on the internet say that they can be re-crisped by warming in the oven.

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2 thoughts on “Fried Dough (Italian Chrusty/Cenci or Polish Chrusciki)

    • Sharon, I don’t honestly know. I would think so since you can freeze other kinds of dough but I would just cut the recipe in half. Mom was very free with the measurements. Lois said the recipe Mom gave to her, orally, uses 6 eggs and 2 cups of flour, and has Mace as a well. And that works fine. Seems like a flexible process to me.

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