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San Giuseppe's Buns

Buns for Saint Joseph's Day.

Poor Giuseppe (Joseph) tends to get overlooked in all the Madonna (Mary) worship, though he is a character close to my heart as my brother always played him – somewhat reluctantly - in the nativity, and as his commemorative dolci is one of my favourites. Little is known or written about the 1st century Jewish carpenter named Giuseppe who unwittingly became the father of Christ, and then became venerated as a Saint in the Catholic church; the patron saint of workers whose ‘Festa’ falls on the 19th March. This is the Italian father’s day, Giuseppe being the archetypal father, and the traditional dolci which accompanies it is a type of choux pastry beignet, stuffed with some sort of cream and often topped with a single sour cherry.

Zeppole are generally a sort of deep fried doughnut-style food (more often shaped in spirals or piped) which crop up in various shapes and sizes for traditional festivities all over Italy. Those associated with San Giuseppe are special in that they contain thick, yellow pastry cream and are topped with a glossy sour cherry. The pastry itself is not a yeasted dough but a choux pastry, and is sometimes fried, but this is one occasion where I opt for baking over frying.

So often mistakes make the best recipes, and whilst tradition calls for a thick yellow pastry cream filling, I had used all my best eggs in the choux, so made a simple sweetened whipped cream, and as the choux is so wonderfully eggy itself this was pronounced better than the original. Mauro, our in-house, quiet and Saintly father figure, said that it made the sour cherry positively explosive, set against such a delicate background, rather than a sweet and cloying custard cream. This is one occasion where I am anti-custard, and it does make the making of them easier/quicker too. If you want to stick with tradition, follow the pastry cream recipe on p. 

These are best eaten the day they are made. You can easily freeze the choux once cooked and fill them on another occasion.

Makes 6-8 Zeppole

For the pastry:

4 good eggs

150g plain (or 00) flour

250ml water

50g butter

A pinch of salt

For the cream:


2 tbsp icing sugar

A few drops of vanilla extract/ scraped seeds from a half a pod (optional)

To Finish:


Fabri Amarena Sour cherries

Icing sugar to dust

To Make the Zeppole:

Warm the butter and the water in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Add the flour in and whisk over a medium heat. Continue stirring over a medium heat for a few minutes, until the paste is smooth and shiny and comes away from the edges of the pan in one uniform lump.

Remove from the heat transfer into a bowl and allow to cool. Beat the eggs in a bowl and then once your flour paste had cooled beat in the beaten egg mixture a little at a time (this will take quite a lot of arm work, or you can use an electric beater) until you have a smooth, shiny paste.

Decant the paste into a piping bag fitted with a fluted nozzle.

Preheat the oven to 200. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and pipe circles of the pastry onto the tray.

Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and risen.  

Once cool, pipe the cream into the centre of the zeppole, then top with a sour cherry and dust with icing sugar. Serve.

1 Comment

han gu
han gu
Jul 04

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