When it comes to pastries, Italy has a lot to teach to other countries in terms of traditional recipes. Among them, the famous Saint Joseph’s Fritters, the zeppole, one of the most amazing recipe in the Neapolitan cuisine.
If you’re from the US, you’ve probably seen the zeppole in many Italian shops around the 19th of March and you’ve surely recognized them thanks to the particular shape, the filling and the cherry on top; sometimes also the fried donuts Italian style are called zeppole but the original ones are these, prepared for the 19th of March, the day of Saint Joseph, Maria’s husband, as well as father’s day in Italy.
The zeppole were invented by monks at the beginning of the 19th century and since then they’ve reached the status of recipe to be preserved to celebrate the Italian tradition.
For the batter
200 grams of flour
80 grams of butter
60 grams of sugar
2 glasses of water
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Oil for frying
For the filling
2 egg yolks
60 grams of sugar
1 tablespoon of flour
230 ml of milk
1 lemon zest
To decorate and make the zeppole
1. Pour water into a saucepan with salt and butter. Bring to a boil, always stirring then add the flour mixing well using a metallic spoon until the batter is smooth and no longer sticks to the sides of the pan.
2. Let the batter cool then once it’s in a room temperature add eggs, sugar, baking powder and vanilla extract. Mix everything together with a mixer until it’s light and smooth.
3. Prepare the filling by boiling the milk with the lemon peel and in the meantime beating the egg yolks with the sugar. Once the yolks and the sugar have formed a smooth cream add the flour and mix gently. Once the milk starts to boil, remove from the stove and add the eggs’ mixture whisking continuously. Put the pan back to a low heath and let the cream cook, always stirring, until it become dense. Transfer the cream into a bowl, cover with some plastic wrap and let it cool.
4. Cut out a few squares of aluminum foil and grease one side of the squares with extra virgin olive oil. Fill a pastry bag with the batter and form a ring of dough on each foil forming a spiral.
5. Heat the frying oil and, when it’s hot, place the fritters in the oil with the foil and let them cook. The foil will separate from the zeppole and the zeppole will be ready when lightly brown on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
6. Once the zeppole are cool, fill them with pastry cream and decorate with a cherry on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy.
Preparation time: 1 hour
1. The oil has to reach a temperature of about 170°C or 338°F otherwise the pastry will be soggy and oily.
2. The zeppole can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to two days but cannot be frozen.