Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mark the Date: March 19th Zeppole Day!

zeppole danish
For many of you who just read the title of this piece, you probably think I meant to write March 17th.  After all, that is the day the whole world turns Irish, but I assure you I meant March 19th!

After all the green beer and shenanigans that went on just two short days earlier, we find ourselves again celebrating another  Great Saint's Feast Day.

This one is St. Joseph's Day.  He traditionally was known as the Foster Father of Jesus Christ.  So from this auspicious beginning comes the Italian way of celebrating Father's Day.

Now St. Joseph's Day isn't celebrated like St. Patrick's, with parades and lots of drinking, but, as with any celebration, there is food!  You cannot celebrate anything without some special culinary delight!

The Italians have this lovely pastry called Zeppole di San Guiseppe.  If you have never tried one, I recommend that you make your way to the nearest Italian Bakery and ask for this lovely concoction. Traditionally it was only made for March 19th, but, as with anything that becomes successful, many bakeries now make this famous treat available at least a month in advance of St. Joseph's Day and some even make them all year round.

Here is my recipe for these delightful Zeppole, and I bet once you try them, you will be hooked forever.  You will have another reason to celebrate the month of March.  It will become the St. Patrick's, and St. Joseph's Day feasting.  By the time you are done with that, it will be great to return to the practices of Lent and do a little fasting....because you know that Easter is on the way.

To Make the Pastry:

1 cup of water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3  cups of cake flour
5 eggs
6 to 8 cups of good quality oil for frying

To Make the Cream Custard

3 1/4 cups of whole milk
Rind of one lemon
8 egg yolks
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 1/2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter cubed.
Brandied Cherries for decoration and taste.


Pastry:  In a saucepan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a rolling boil.  Make sure the butter is in small cubes as it will melt better and combine with the water, salt and sugar mixture.  Add all the flour in one movement.  remove from heat and using a wooden spoon blend in the flour until it is all incorporated.  Put back on the heat and stir the mixture over medium, heat for about 5 minutes.  Do not let the mixture dry out.  Remove from heat and after allowing the mixture to cool completely put into a mixing bowl.  There you can begin to add one  egg at a time mixing well after each egg is introduced.

Place all of this mixture into a pastry bag with a star shaped tip (the tip should be at least 1/2 in diameter)  Cut squares of foil or parchment about 4 inches square.  If using foil you must spray oil on the foil before immersing in the deep fryer or frying pan.

Pipe out a circle of 3 1/2 inches around on each piece of foil or paper.  Fry the zeppole on each side for about 4 minutes, removing the paper or foil after flipping them over. Do only two or three at a time and drain them on paper towels.

Let them cool thoroughly.

Custard:  Place the milk and the lemon rind in the  pot, leave for 20 minutes and then bring the milk to a boil. Remove from heat.  Let the lemon rind steep in the milk of 10 minutes and then remove.  In another bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is fluffy.  Add the cornstarch and flour and whisk to combine.

Once the milk has been cooled it can be added to the egg mixture .  Return it to the heat and whisking constantly, cook for 2 minutes or more until it is thickened.  Add the cubed butter to the custard and mix well.  Remove from heat and place in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap .  Make sure the wrap is touching the top of the custard or it will develop a skin and we don't want that.  Cool thoroughly.  Place the custard into a pastry bag and pipe either on top of the pastry or the way I like it, in the middle of the pastry......

Traditionalists will fill the center of the Zeppole with the custard and place a brandied cherry on top and then dust it with icing sugar.  

Some Bakeries do it the way I like them best, they slice the Zeppole pastry in the middle, add the custard to the inside, add brandied cherries on top of the custard and then replace the top part of the pastry, dusting all with icing sugar.

zeppole danish
By Lucas81 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Traditional Zeppole, ready just for you!

Pictures: The top picture comes from my favorite bakery in Toronto, San Remo's ( and the picture at the bottom comes from Wikimedia.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I have never had one Olivia! Thank you for sharing your recipe, as well as explaining the tradition. How very cool! I do so love it when someone introduces me to something new.

  2. You must try one, they are not the least expensive treats, but well worth the cost. Even making them yourself is time consuming, but when you love your family, you do it! Zeppole is one treat I look forward to each year. Hope you get the chance to try them.

  3. I could go for this right now, sounds really good, I'll remember the name when I'm at Bakery for sure, but wow the ones you made look amazing, you could sell those at a bakery


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