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This idea for gluten-free carnival sweets came to me from my friends at the Rieti and Viterbo Chamber of Commerce, who, keeping alive an initiative conceived during the Covid-19 pandemic, organised FB lives from theOsteria Le Tre Porte in Rieti to publicise the products of the area by sending to bloggers and journalists throughout Italy the ingredients to prepare various dishes including Cicerchiata.

When I received the information about the recipes we would prepare together, I had not imagined that Cicerchiata would be a dessert. Instead, in the province of Rieti, it is the traditional Carnival dessert inspired by Campania’s ‘Struffoli‘. The traditional form is that of a garland, which is obtained by pouring the sweets into a doughnut mould, while I’m proposing a mini-serving version so as not to be tempted to eat too much of it.

Given the fundamental role of honey in this recipe, it seems that the spread of Cicerchiata is linked to the development of bee-keeping in this area of Italy, while the name is presumed to derive from the legume grass peas of which the sweet balls of dough reproduce the shape and colour, so Cicerchiata would be a nice ‘stack of grass peas’.

Like many Carnival sweets, Circerchiata symbolises regeneration through its circular shape, the frying that turns a cold dough into a delicacy, and the vitality of honey and colourful decorations.

A tip for those of us who have to be careful with both fried food and simple sugars? Form very small balls, just like dried chickpeas, and reduce the amount of honey to the minimum necessary to hold the precious compositions together.

Here are a few more ideas for Carnival: Krapfen with jam e Fried cream.

cicerchiata

Cicerchiata

60g carbohydrates per 100g without candied fruit and coloured sprinkles

Ingredients

  • 160g flour mix for bread, brand BiAglut**
  • 2 eggs + 15g egg white
  • 100g honey
  • 40g brown rice flour*
  • 25g sugar
  • 20g butter
  • lemon rind
  • slivered almonds*
  • candied fruit*
  • coloured sprinkles*

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Pour the eggs into a bowl, beat them with a fork together with the sugar, add the soft butter and lemon zest. Gradually incorporate the flour, stirring with a fork until the mixture is firm enough to knead with your hands. Transfer everything onto the work surface and continue kneading with your hands until you obtain a smooth and homogeneous dough, similar to fresh pasta.
  2. Divide the dough into small portions, form them into sticks of dough having a diameter of about 8mm as for making Gnocchi, then cut them into chunks no more than 8mm-1cm long. Round the pieces of dough with your fingers to form small balls.
  3. Heat the seed oil to a temperature of 170-180°C and deep fry a few balls at a time. When they are golden brown, drain them well and let them cool on kitchen paper.
  4. Meanwhile, pour the honey into a large pan and heat it gently for a few minutes. When it has browned slightly, turn off the heat and add the fried balls, stirring to coat them evenly. Finally, add the almonds and sprinkles, taking care to keep some aside for decoration. Mix again, pour the mixture into the desired moulds, garnish with the almonds and sprinkles kept aside and serve.

Cicerchiata

Version with gluten of Cicerchiata

Replace BiAglut flour and rice flour with 250g wheat flour 00 and add 30g sugar instead of 25g.

Who can resist a soft and fragrant freshly baked Apulian focaccia ? Indeed, it is one of those treats that it is good to indulge in from time to time.

So prepare the ingredients to reproduce this recipe from the traditional cuisine of an area with genuine and simple flavours, but which is always a great success.

Needless to say, this is a strictly gluten free preparation. To make it, we decided not to add sugar, as the original recipe calls for, so you simply have to be a little more patient to let it rise.

Gluten-free Apulian focaccia 

40.60g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients

  • 450g flour mix for bread, brand Nutrifree**
  • 450g water
  • 250g potatoes (weight of cooked and peeled potatoes)
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 50g buckwheat flour*
  • 50g wholemeal rice flour*
  • 20g brewer’s yeast
  • extra virgin olive oil, fine and coarse salt, oregano

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Take the flours, put them in a bowl or planetary mixer and mix with water in which you have dissolved the yeast. Knead, then add fine salt and 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Once everything is mixed together, put it to rise for 1.5 hours inside the mixing bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and, once cooked, peel, mash and let them cool.
  3. Take the risen dough, add the mashed potatoes and mix until the potatoes are completely incorporated.
  4. Pour the soft dough into a large baking tin covered with lightly greased parchment paper. Oil your hands well and flatten the dough, forming the typical holes with your fingers, then leave to rise for at least 1 hour.

Uno_Chef_per_Gaia_preparazione focaccia pugliese

Preparing Apulian focaccia

  1. Now cut the cherry tomatoes in half and let them sink slightly into the focaccia from the cut side. Finish the preparation with coarse salt, extra virgin olive oil and oregano.
Uno_Chef_per_Gaia_focaccia gluten free

Focaccia ready to be baked

  1. Bake in a hot oven at 200°C for about 40-45 minutes, then let it cool before serving.
Uno_Chef_per_Gaia_focaccia pugliese senza glutine

Apulian focaccia

Version with gluten of Apulian focaccia

Just replace the Nutrifree flour with 500g wheat flour and mix with 300g water.