Celebrate Venetian Carnival with these classic sweet fried pastry stripes

If you’ve ever been to Venice or Venezia to use the Italian name, you know the city is not only offering a wealth of amazing sights and experiences from Renaissance and Gothic palaces to world-famous Piazza San Marco with Sankt Mark’s Basilica and the small winding canals criss-crossing around the more than 100 islands that form the city are just few of them.

And the local cuisine is just as amazing. Especially local Cicchetti, the small bites similar to Spanish tapas, with nearly limitless variations. And of course those typical Venetian desserts and sweets which would the city not have so many reasons to visit, would be reason enough to return time after time.

As unique as Venice itself is the Venetian Carnival, celebrated each year over the two weeks preceding Ash Wednesday. The origin of the Venetian Carnival can be traced back to 1162 when in honour of the victory over the Patriarch of Aquileia people gathered in Sankt Mark’s square to celebrate. While it became a popular event for several centuries, the festival was outlawed in 1797 by Franz II, Emperor of Austria and wearing masks was forbidden. Only in the 19th century did the celebrations gradually return and in 1979 the Italian government officially brought back the celebrations.

How to Make Galani, The Traditional Venetian Carnival Sweets

Carnival in Venice is also the time when the city’s pastry shops and bakeries are bursting with a range of the most delicious, sweet pastries. From various versions of frittele to the delicious galani, it’s not carnival without these delicacies.

These little treats not only taste amazing, but they are also easier made than you might think. So if you are not able to attend Carnival di Venezia in person, transport a bit of the feeling into your home making a large plate of delicious galani.

What are galani, the traditional Venetian Carnival sweets?

Galani are favourite treats in various regions across Italy during the carnival season, though often they will be called differently depending on the location: crostoli, chiacchiere, sfrapole, cenic, bugie … there are lots of different names. They will also look slightly different from place to place. For example, they could be slightly thicker, and the cut (or cuts) might be in the middle.

How to Make Galani, The Traditional Venetian Carnival Sweets

The original recipe of the galani is thought to date back to the Roman empire; thus they have been around well before the Venetian Carnival and before a lot of the other carnival sweets were invented.

Galani might look delicate and demanding to prepare but they could not be easier made.

How to Make Galani, The Traditional Venetian Carnival Sweets

Recipe: Venetian Carnival Galani

250 g all purpose flour
50 g sugar
20 g butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon rum or grappa
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon peel
25-50 ml cold water
icing sugar to dust
700 ml neutral oil for frying

In a bowl, add all ingredients and knead until obtaining a smooth dough. When it’s too dry, add more water.

Set aside and let rest for 1-2 hours.

Divide the dough into to pieces and roll out really thin. If you have a pasta machine, you can also pass it through the machine.

Using a cutting wheel, cut into small, long pieces resembling a ribbon. Make a cut on top of each galano.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil until really hot. Fry the galani until they turn lightly golden-brown. Transfer onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to dry.

Dust with icing sugar.

Galani taste wonderfully when still slightly warm but you can also keep them for one or two days.