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A close up of a Zeppole (Italian pastry) topped with custard and a cherry on top sitting on a blue plate
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Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Zeppole di San Giuseppe are delicious Italian pastries made to celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph. Choux pastry filled with Crema Pasticcera (pastry cream) and topped with amarena cherries.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 zeppole
Calories: 307kcal
Author: Emily Kemp

Equipment

  • Piping bag and star nozzle

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Italian 00 flour or all purpose flour (140g)
  • 3 oz butter (85g)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 pinch fine salt
  • ¾ cup water (170ml)
  • 8 cherries soaked in syrup such as Fabbri

For the custard

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • cup sugar (70g)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (30g)
  • 2.5 cups full-fat milk (590ml)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Peel of 1 lemon or orange optional

Instructions

To make the Crema Pasticcera (custard)

  • Heat the milk, vanilla and citrus peel if using in a saucepan until boiling them turn off immediately to avoid it overflowing.
  • In a large bowl mix the egg yolks and sugar together until combined then mix in the cornstarch.
  • Remove the citrus peel then slowly pour the milk into the egg a little at a time whilst whisking until thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and heat it on medium-low.
  • Stir the mixture until thickened (about 10 minutes) if lumps appear, turn the heat lower and use a whisk. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Once thick, transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap (cling film). Make sure to place it directly on top of the custard so a skin doesn’t form.
  • Set aside to cool completely.

To make the Zeppole

  • Pre-heat the oven to 190C (375F). Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Put the water and sugar in a large saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, add the butter and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down low and add the sifted flour to the butter mixture. Mix it vigorously with a wooden spoon until a dough had formed and is no longer sticking to the edges. Make sure to cook the dough whilst stirring for at least 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Mix the egg into the dough a third at a time making sure the egg is fully absorbed before adding more egg. The dough should be smooth and sticky.
  • Transfer the dough to a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe the zeppole in a ring overlapping it in the middle (as you would frost a cupcake) about 3 inches in size. Make sure to pipe them 2 inch apart.
  • Bake them in the oven at 190C (375F) for 10 minutes then turn the heat down to 170C (340F) for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Fill the Zeppole

  • Once cooled, add the custard to a piping bag (we used a star nozzle but any will do). Cut the zeppole in half and fill them with custard. Top each zeppole with a little more custard and top each one with a cherry.

Video

Notes

  • Cooking the pastry - it's important to cook the dough (while stirring) for at least 5 minutes so enough water gets a chance to evaporate. If you don't do this the dough will be too runny once the egg is added and will be hard to pipe.
  • Tip for piping the zeppole dough - think of it as if you are frosting a cupcake, you pipe it into a ring and overlap it in the middle.
  • Different filling options - you can flavour your pastry cream with citrus zest, alcohol such as limoncello or strega or vanilla. You can also go for a chocolate version and use our Chocolate Pastry Cream (Crema al Cioccolato).
  • Storage - Zeppole shells will last for up to 3-4 days. Filled zeppole will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 307kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 235mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 193mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 671IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 125mg | Iron: 2mg