Saint Joseph’s Zeppole

IMG_3893The zeppole of Saint Joseph are the delicious pastries that in Southern Italy, especially in Puglia and in Campania, people make for Father’s day on March 19th. You can bake or fry them, below we will show you the two different procedures, just choose the one you prefer and try it!

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INGREDIENTS for about thirty zeppole

250 gr all-purpose flour
250 ml water
200 gr butter, cut into a small pieces
1 pinch salt
6/7 eggs
frying oil (peanuts oil)

Custard for the filling:
1 lt milk
250 gr sugar
125 gr flour
8 yolks
1 pinch salt
zest of half a lemon

In a saucepan bring to a boil the water, the butter and salt, while stirring with a wood spoon. Switch off the heat and add the flour, mix very well. The batter is ready when it comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Move the dough in a cold bowl and let it to cool.

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When it is cold, one a time add the eggs while mixing (add the new egg when the previous one is completely absorbed). Mix until the dough is soft and airy, then let it chill in a refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime prepare the custard.

Place the milk and lemon zest over medium heat. Cook until hot (do not allow to boil). Remove saucepan from heat.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl until well combined. Pour hot milk mixture over egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.

Return mixture to saucepan over low heat. Cook, while stirring steadily in the same direction until the custard thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon (do not allow custard to boil, as it might curdle).

Pour the custard into a jug or bowl, cover the surface with cling film and leave to cool.

For the baked version:

Preheat the oven at 200 °C.  Prepare a baking tray lined with a greaseproof paper, pour the dough into a pastry bag with a star-shaped tip. Then form a ring of dough (5 cm of diameter)  on  the paper until you have used all the batter. Let a bit of space between them, while baking they swell.

Bake at 200 ºC for about 15 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden brown. Check them very often during baking. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before touching them as they are very fragile.

For the fried version:

To shape the fritters, place the fritter batter in a pastry bag with a star-shaped tip.
Cut out 2-in squares of greaseproof paper. Then, using the pastry bag, form a ring of dough on each foil until you have used all the batter.
Fill a pot with frying oil (peanuts oil) and place over high heat.

Once hot, place the fritters in the oil, two at a time, with the paper. The paper will separate from the fritters in the hot oil.

Once brown, remove the fritters using a slotted spoon and place them to drain on paper towels while you fry the remaining batter.

Once the zeppole are cool enough to handle, fill another pastry bag with custard. Decorate each zeppola with the custard, you can put the cream on the top or into the zeppola once cut in two parts. Then place a cherry on top (or a flower for a less classical version) and dust with powdered sugar.

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