The “Zeppole di San Giuseppe” are a typical Neapolitan dessert traditionally prepared on March 19th, the day of San Giuseppe and the date on which all fathers are celebrated in Italy. They are delicious fried choux pastry fritters (or baked for a lighter version) and garnished with custard and sour cherries in syrup. Today we will prepare them using both methods, they will be baked in the oven first and then fried for a few minutes. This way we will have fragrant and yet light fried donuts, because in the oven they will swell and the external crust will prevent the cake from absorbing too much oil during frying.
For the choux pastry:
- 250 grams of flour ’00
- 250 grams of water
- 50 grams of butter
- 5 medium eggs
- 5 gr of salt
- 1 litre of sunflower oil for frying
For the thick custard:
- 460 grams of fresh whole milk
- 6 medium yolks
- 150 grams of sugar
- 30 grams of flour ’00
- 20 grams of starch
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- icing sugar
- sour cherries in syrup (1 for each zeppola)
disposable sac a poche, large flower nozzle 8 / 10mm in diameter
Firstly, we prepare the cream so we can let it cool while we prepare the zeppole.
Beat the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla for about 2 minutes. Help yourself with electric whips to get a clear, fluffy and puffy mixture.
Add the sifted flour and starch to the mixture. Mix with electric whisk until the product is homogeneous, smooth and perfectly whipped.
In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. When the first bubbles appear, remove the saucepan from the heat, add the egg mixture and put it back on the heat. After a minute, you can see milk bubbles that pierce the surface of the yolk and slowly the egg will detach from the edges of the pot, giving way to the milk. Turn quickly with a hand whisk and immediately turn off the heat, in a few seconds the cream is ready. Immediately place it in a clean bowl and cover it with cling film touching the surface.
Then put it in the fridge to completely lower the temperature.
In a large, non-stick pan, pour the water, salt and butter cut into small pieces.
Melt the butter and then bring the mixture to a boil. Only when it reaches 100 degrees add all the flour and turn well to absorb the liquid. Remove from the heat and continue to stir vigorously for a few seconds, so that the mixture absorbs all the flour, in a few seconds you will find a thick and chewy dough that comes off the sides of the pot. Immediately put it back on the heat and stir again for a few seconds, until you feel it rub under the pot.
Pour the still boiling mixture onto a work surface and cool it by working it with a spatula in order to reduce the temperature. This cooling step is essential: when you add the eggs, the dough must be slightly warm otherwise the eggs will cook, giving your dough the smell of “omelette”.
Then roll out the dough with a tarot so that it warms up and repeat the operation until the temperature allows you to use your hands.
Continue with your hands until the dough has cooled.
At this point you can pour the dough into a bowl.
Now add the eggs to the dough one at a time, without opening them all together because, depending on the size, four eggs may be enough. You have to get a soft and firm mixture, like a very compact cream.
Now assemble a pastry bag with an 8/10 mm diameter flower spout. Fill the pastry bag with the dough and make the zeppole directly in a pan previously lined with baking paper, making 2 turns, one on top of the other, the base circle in this case has a diameter of 6 cm. Be careful to make the second round more towards the inside of the zeppola, so as to almost close (but without closing) the central hole.
Make the donuts 4 – 5 cm apart and make 4 – 5 for each pan. At this point, heat the oven at 200° and cook the zeppole for 10 – 11 minutes, until they are slightly swollen and have formed a crust. After the indicated time, the zeppole will come off easily.
At this point it is time to fry.
While the Zeppole are in the oven, prepare a saucepan full of oil and bring it to a temperature of 165/170 degrees; then cook one zeppola at a time so you can focus on the perfect frying. The zeppola will rise to the surface with a few bubbles, will take on colour and swell. Within 2 or 3 minutes the zeppola will be well swollen and golden.
Now let them rest on the absorbent paper, and wait for them to cool completely before garnishing them with the cream.
Take the cream out of the fridge and leave it for ten minutes at room temperature, mix it a little to make it soft. Fill a pastry bag, with the same flower nozzle already used, with the cream and place it on the zeppole starting from the centre and making a circle that you will finish at the top. Complete the zeppole by placing a sour cherry in the centre of each of them.