Zeppole di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s Day Traditional Italian Pastries) – a delicious custard filled dessert, and it looks easy to make. At least I hope so, I will try to make this on the weekend.
March 19 is also celebrated in Italy as Father’s Day, and in our Catholic Calendar, it is a Feast Day for us as we celebrate Saint Joseph. Back in the early part of the 19th century, Pasquale Pintauro, a Neapolitan baker, is credited with creating Zeppole pastries.
They are custard-filled pastries topped with cherry. There are many recipes on how to make this, but I like this one which is baked and not fried.
Saint Joseph’s Zeppole
For the zeppole
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose or ‘00’ flour
¾ stick butter, cut into small pieces
4 large eggs
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. sugar
For the custard:
2¼ cup milk
1 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp. maizena (cornstarch)
1 vanilla bean
For the decoration
Amarena cherries or candied cherries
Start by preparing the custard. Heat the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla bean opened halfway.
Separately, beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl and add the cornstarch. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk and slowly pour it over the egg mixture, stirring constantly until the custard is thickened. Let the custard cool in a bowl covered with plastic wrap.
Next, prepare the choux pastry dough. Place butter pieces in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and pour in the water. Add the salt and 1 tsp. sugar and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon.
As soon as the water is boiling, remove the pot from the heat and pour in the sifted flour in one go, stirring quickly with a whisk and then continuing with a wooden spoon. A ball will form. Keep stirring for around 10 minutes, until a white patina forms on the bottom of the pan.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and let it cool. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing the mixture well. When the dough is smooth and uniform, place it in a piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle and press it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Form circles around 3″ in diameter, overlapping the pastry twice.
Preheat the ventilated oven to 375°F and bake the zeppole for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on the surface. Do the toothpick test: if it emerges from the dough dry, the pastries are ready. Transfer them out of the oven and let them cool.
Once cold, cut them in half, stuff them with cream in the middle and on top and garnish with sour or candied cherries.
God Bless and Happy Baking 💖
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