Zeppole di San Giuseppe



Zeppole di San Giuseppe

March 19th is a special date in Italy as it’s when both St. Joseph’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated and the windows of the country’s many pastry shops fill with delicious traditional zeppole to mark the occasion. In the most traditional version of these choux pastry doughnuts, they’re filled with pastry cream and black cherries in syrup and topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. While some people prefer baked zeppole, others are fans of the even more indulgent version: fried zeppole! This traditional Campanian pastry can now be found throughout Italy in different variations and with different names, such as the fried bignè di San Giuseppe, filled with cream in the traditional Roman style. Fried zeppole are a rich pastry with a history that dates back over a thousand years. Their name has its origins in the Biblical story of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt, when it’s said that Joseph turned his hand to making and selling fried pastries and fritters to support his family. Various poems and nursery rhymes have been written in honor of “St. Joseph the Fryer,” which is why fried zeppole are now typically associated with St. Joseph’s Day and Father’s Day all across Italy. We wanted to make them too and dedicate them to all of the fathers in Italy, who we’re sure will also be sampling delicious variations such as baked cocoa zeppole, sfinci doughballs from Palermo, and soft raviole biscuits from Emilia on their special day. Don’t forget to try our zeppole with mascarpone cream and coffee, too!


Ingredients for 6 zeppole
Eggs 3 - (medium)
Egg yolks 1
Butter ¼ cup (55 g)
Water 1 cup (250 ml)
Flour 00 1.3 cups (150 g)
Fine salt to taste
For 12 oz (350 g) of pastry cream
Egg yolks 2
Cornstarch 3 tbsp (22.5 g)
Vanilla bean 1
Sugar 0.3 cup (70 g)
Whole milk ¾ cup (200 ml)
Heavy cream ¼ cup (50 ml)
For frying and icing
Black cherries in syrup 6
Peanut seed oil to taste
Powdered sugar to taste

How to prepare Zeppole di San Giuseppe

To prepare your fried zeppole di San Giuseppe, start by making the pastry cream to fill them so that it has time to cool. You can check the steps in the recipe for pastry cream on our website for more details. You’ll need to heat the milk and cream (or just milk) in a saucepan, along with the vanilla bean and seeds after extracting them with a small knife 1. Once it has come to a boil, turn off the heat, set aside, and keep warm. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small bowl and pour in the granulated sugar 2, then stir to combine the ingredients, add the cornstarch 3, and mix well.

Remove the vanilla bean 4, pour a little milk into the small bowl with the eggs, sugar, and starch 5 to dilute the mixture, and stir before adding all of it to the saucepan containing the milk 6.

Put the heat on low and stir continuously with a whisk 7 until the cream has thickened 8. This will take around 10 minutes. Once ready, transfer the cream to a small, shallow bowl, and cover with plastic wrap 9. Leave to cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator. Once cooled, transfer it to a disposable piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle.

Now move on to your choux pastry. Pour the water into a large saucepan 10, then add the chopped butter 11 and a pinch of salt 12.

Put the heat on medium and stir with a wooden spoon to melt the butter 13. When the liquid begins to boil, pour in all of the flour at once 14 and continue to stir 15.

The mixture should come away from the sides of the pan 16. At that point, turn off the heat and pour into a bowl. Spread it out slightly in the middle so it cools more quickly, and beat together, in a separate bowl, the 3 whole eggs, along with the yolk (the eggs and yolk should weigh a total of 6 oz (170 g) combined). Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the batter a little at a time 17, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. At first, it will be difficult to mix the eggs into the other ingredients, but with a little patience you’ll get a smooth, even consistency, and the mixture will be fairly runny and creamy 18 by the end.

Pour it into a pastry bag with a 5-inch (12-mm) star-shaped nozzle 19. Heat the peanut oil in a large pan and bring it to a temperature not exceeding 330°F (165°C) (use a kitchen thermometer to measure this). While the oil is heating up, place a sheet of parchment paper on the work surface where you’ll arrange your zeppole, with plenty of space between them (this recipe makes 6). Use the pastry bag to pipe two circles of dough, one on top of the other. The doughnut you create should be around 2-3 inches (6-7 cm) in diameter 20. Next, cut squares out of the parchment paper, around the zeppole 21,

so that you can pick them up more easily, and plunge them into the oil, which should have reached the right temperature by now. Put just 1 or a maximum of 2 zeppole into the oil at a time, with the side that was in contact with the parchment paper facing upwards. You will notice that, after a few moments, the parchment paper comes off very easily 22(use a fork to remove it, taking care not to burn yourself). Let each zeppola fry for a few minutes without turning it over so that it keeps its shape while cooking. After a few minutes on one side, turn your zeppola 23 over and cook on the other side as well. The whole process should take around 5-6 minutes. Once ready and nicely browned, drain them with a slotted spoon 24.

Lay the fried zeppole on a tray lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil 25. Repeat the frying steps for the remaining zeppole. Then take the cherries in syrup and cut them in half if you prefer 26. Sprinkle the zeppole with powdered sugar 27,

place a dollop of pastry cream inside 28, lay a black cherry on top of each 29, and sprinkle with powdered sugar to taste. Your fried zeppole di San Giuseppe are ready to serve 30.


These fried zeppole are best enjoyed freshly made or within a few hours.

You can store them in the fridge for up to 1 day.

The pastry cream can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days.

It is not recommended to store the choux pastry in the fridge.


Not recommended for freezing.


A good choux pastry is best made with a soft flour because the gluten would make the dough too elastic, having a negative effect on the crispness of the pastry.

When frying choux pastry, it’s good for the amount of butter to be less than half the amount of flour used; otherwise, there’s a risk of the dough collapsing in on itself.

You might also like to try adding a dollop of chocolate cream on top of the pastry cream instead of the cherries.