Umbrian Carnival Cake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves about


Appears in

Italian Regional Cookery

Italian Regional Cookery

By Valentina Harris

Published 1990

  • About

This very sticky, honey-smothered cake, which consists of little fried balls of dough stuck together, is made in Abruzzi and Molise to such an extent that many cooks of those regions claim that it actually belongs to them! This is, however, untrue, but then good ideas always travel far and wide - or at least they do when they are about food.


  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons liqueur
  • grated rind of ½ lemon
  • about 11 oz (300 g) plain white flour, sifted oil for deep-frying
  • 1 lb (450 g) honey
  • 4 oz (100 g) blanched almonds, cut into strips
  • 3 oz (75 g) glacé cherries, chopped
  • coloured sugar crystals and vermicelli or other tiny cake sweets to decorate


Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the olive oil, liqueur and lemon rind. Blend in as much flour as necessary to make a soft but not sticky dough. Knead it with your hands, then divide it up and roll it out into pencil-sized sticks. Cut the sticks into ¼ inch (5 mm) pieces and roll these on a board under the palm of your hand to make them into pellets.

Heat the oil for deep-frying until a piece of bread dropped into it sizzles instantly. Fry all the dough pellets in the oil until crisp and brown, then remove and drain on kitchen paper until required.

Melt the honey in a large saucepan until dark-coloured and completely liquid. Test whether it is ready by putting one drop into a glass of cold water: if it hardens, it is ready to use. Put the fried dough pellets and the almonds and glacé cherries into the honey and stir thoroughly with a large spoon. Turn this mixture out on to a marble work-surface or large china platter and shape it into a ring with your hands - you will get very sticky! Scatter with sugar crystals and vermicelli or tiny cake sweets, transfer to another clean platter and serve.