Sweet doughnuts with cream

Sweet doughnuts with cream

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Sharing Puglia
Alicia Taylor

This recipe calls for making choux pastry, which is then piped using a star nozzle to produce the traditional grooved pastries. These are a much-loved favourite in the south of Italy and prepared especially for the Feast of San Giuseppe in March, which is also celebrated as Father’s Day. I have included a recipe here for a vanilla custard filling, which can be either piped on top of the zeppole, or sandwiched between two halves. If you like, you could top them with some maraschino cherries and a drizzle of vincotto.


Quantity Ingredient
fresh strawberries or raspberries, to serve


Quantity Ingredient
250ml full-cream milk
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
or 1/2 lemon, zested
80g caster sugar
30g 00 flour
20g cornflour
3 egg yolks


Quantity Ingredient
70g butter
pinch salt
30g caster sugar
150g 00 flour
3 eggs
olive oil, for deep-frying
icing or caster sugar, for dredging


  1. To make the filling, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla, then remove from the heat and set aside to infuse the flavouring. After about 10 minutes, strain the milk carefully and discard the vanilla bean.
  2. Place the sugar, flour and cornflour in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl and slowly pour a little of the warm, infused milk in, stirring well. Mix the egg mixture into the sugar and flour mixture and transfer this to the pan with the remaining milk. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon over low heat and continue to cook until the cream thickens, about 5 minutes.
  4. Cool the cream and place plastic wrap on the surface, so a crust does not form. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. To make the zeppole, place 250 ml water with the butter, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and heat until the butter melts completely. Remove from the heat, add the flour and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and is smooth. Return the pan to the heat and continue stirring for a further 10 minutes.The mixture will be quite stiff.
  6. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer with a K attachment. With the mixer running slowly at first, gradually incorporate the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg. After all the eggs have been incorporated, turn the speed up to medium and mix until thoroughly combined. It may take approximately 10 minutes in total to incorporate all of the egg into the flour mixture.
  7. Cut 12 pieces of baking paper into 10 cm squares, and place on a baking tray.
  8. Place the finished choux pastry in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe a bagel shape, about 10 cm in diameter onto each baking paper square. (This way you don’t need to handle the zeppole when ready to cook. You can simply pick the paper up and slip the zeppole into the hot oil. The small squares of baking paper will immediately float to the top and you can retrieve them easily.)
  9. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan and, when the oil is ‘shimmering’, slip the zeppole, upside down, into the oil. Remove the paper and continue to cook the zeppole, a few at a time, until golden, approximately 10 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking time. Make sure the oil is not too hot so the zeppole don’t burn. Make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan.
  10. When the zeppole are golden, remove them from the oil and place on paper towel to drain.
  11. Dredge the zeppole while they are hot with the icing sugar or caster sugar.
  12. When the zeppole are cool, pipe the cream filling over the top and serve. They are best eaten on the same day with some fresh sliced strawberries or raspberries.
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