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How to Make Zeppole di San Giuseppe | Italian Zeppole Recipe

These Italian zeppole are a treat served every year in honor of San Giuseppe: Saint Joseph. As the patron saint of fathers, La Festa di San Giuseppe falls on Father’s Day. While these zeppole are once-a-year treats in Italy, you can enjoy them any time you like by making them at home!


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How to Make Zeppole di San Giuseppe | Italian Zeppole Recipe

A Zeppola di San Giuseppe is made with a light, airy choux pastry topped with a thick custard and Amarena cherries. The flavor balance between the dairy-based custard and sour cherries is what makes this a mouth-watering and popular treat in Italy.


Fried vs. Baked Zeppole


While Zeppole di San Giuseppe are traditionally fried, the pastry can also be baked with success. We recommend the former for the most delicious experience, but if frying at home makes you nervous we’ve included instructions (and slightly modified ingredient amounts) below.



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ZEPPOLE DI SAN GIUSEPPE RECIPE


Makes: 6 to 8 medium zeppole

Cook Time: 4 to 5 hours, best done over the course of two days


To make the custard, you will need:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk

  • 1 lemon zest, peeled

  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract

  • 4 egg yolks

  • ⅓ cup (65 g) sugar

  • 5 tablespoons (40 g) corn starch


To make the pastry, you will need:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) water

  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter (or 6 tablespoons, 90 g, if baking instead of frying, see above)

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1 ¼ cups (150 g) all-purpose flour

  • 3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk (or 4 large eggs if baking instead of frying, see above)

  • Powdered sugar for topping



Start by making the custard. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, peeled lemon zest and vanilla extract over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, whisk the eggs, sugar and corn starch together until well-incorporated.


Right before the milk starts to boil, pour it into the egg mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Whisk all together, then cook over low heat while stirring constantly for about 10 minutes or until the custard becomes very thick. The custard will eventually need to be piped—kind of like frosting—so it should be thick enough to accomplish this (although it will thicken slightly when cooled).


Cover the custard with plastic wrap in contact with the surface and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until completely chilled—at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.


To make the pastry, heat the water and butter in a non-stick saucepan over medium/low heat. As soon as the butter has melted, stir in a pinch of salt. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. A thick roux will quickly form. Keep stirring the dough until it becomes very smooth and uniform, and some residue begins sticking to the bottom of the pot. Transfer the dough into a large mixing bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.


Add one egg to the dough and stir it in until well-incorporated. Repeat with the remaining eggs (and egg yolk, if you plan on frying), mixing them in one at a time.



If baking, preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.


If frying, fill a deep frying pan with about 2 inches (5 cm) of peanut oil, or a dessert-friendly frying oil of your choice, and heat it to 330°F (165°C). While we normally preach a no-stress, no thermometer method of frying at home, zeppole require a bit more care to maintain a low-temperature oil so we recommend monitoring it with an instant-read thermometer. For frying, prepare a large sheet of parchment paper for forming the zeppole.


Prepare a piping bag with a tip that has roughly a ¾ inch (1.9 cm) discharge, preferably with a ridged pattern although this isn’t strictly necessary. Load the piping bag with the pastry dough. Pipe a circle of dough onto parchment paper, roughly 3 ½ inches (8.9 cm) in diameter. Pipe a second circle just inside of the first to form a thick, doughnut shape with a small hole in the center. Repeat to form more zeppole on the parchment paper, keeping them a couple of inches apart, until all of the dough is used up.


If baking, bake the zeppole for 25 minutes. Then, prop the door of the oven open with the handle of a wooden spoon and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until golden. Let cool to room temperature before decorating.


If frying, cut the parchment paper so that each zeppola rests on its own small square of paper. Carefully lift up a zeppola and place it in the hot oil, turning it upside down so that the paper is on top. Within moments, the paper will separate from the dough and you can pick it out with tongs and discard it.


zeppole-di-san-giuseppe-recipe-how-to-make-best-easy-simple-dessert-pastry
Zeppole Ready for Frying

Fry the zeppola, turning it frequently with a slotted spoon, until golden—about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel to dry. Repeat to fry the rest of the zeppole. Let the pastries cool to room temperature before decorating.


It’s best to decorate as soon as possible to serving time to keep the pastry from becoming soggy. Load a piping bag with the chilled custard. Working in a spiral pattern, pipe custard over the top of each zeppola and fill in the center hole. Top the finished pastries with three Amarena cherries, dust them with powered sugar, and serve.


Buon appetito!



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5 Comments


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3 hours ago

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Lou LR
Lou LR
Mar 30

How much Irish cream please

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Hickman Kay
Hickman Kay
Mar 27

It looks so delicious, thank you for sharing the recipe dordle

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Patrick Newell
Patrick Newell
Mar 17

Double check the amount of milk in this custard recipe. It should be two cups milk, or 1 and 1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream.

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