St Joseph Zeppole – Zeppole di San Giuseppe

St Joseph Zeppole or Zeppole di San Giuseppe are Italian choux pastries, filled with cream and black cherries, and traditionally made for Father’s Day.

In Italy, on Father’s day, we celebrate by making St Joseph Zeppole or zeppole di San Giuseppe.

Zeppole are fried choux pastries, filled with Italian pastry cream (or crema pasticcera) and decorated with preserved black cherries (or amarene).

They are so-called because they are traditionally prepared on the day of St. Joseph, March 19, to celebrate Father’s day in Italy.

St Joseph zeppole filled with pastry cream and topped with preserved cherries.
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The origin of the St Joseph’s zeppole is Neapolitan, but over the past years, they became incredibly popular everywhere in Italy.

The traditional zeppole di San Giuseppe recipe offers two versions of this dessert depending on the cooking method: you can either bake the zeppole in the oven or fry them in oil.

I prefer the baked zeppole version, which is lighter and quicker to make, but I’ll leave both cooking options below, so you can pick your favorite.

Zeppole Ingredients

The beauty of this St Joseph’s zeppole recipe is that you can make a showstopping Italian dessert with just a handful of ingredients!

Here below are the ingredients you’ll need:

zeppole ingredients: flour, butter, water, eggs, pastry cream, sugar, lemon zest, salt, wild cherries.
  • Butter: go for high-quality unsalted butter, I use Irish butter.
  • Water: you can use just water or ⅓ of milk and ⅔ of water.
  • Sugar: it’s totally optional, but feel free to add a teaspoon of sugar.
  • Salt: just a pinch!
  • Eggs: this recipe specifically calls for medium eggs.
  • Lemon zest: this is optional, but I like to add ½ teaspoon of fresh finely grated lemon zest.
  • Pastry cream: for the filling, you’ll need Italian pastry cream, it takes about 15 minutes to make, and I like to prepare it the day before, so it has time to chill and set.
  • Black cherries: we call them amarene in Italy, you’ll find them preserved in syrup, alternatively, substitute them with maraschino cherries.

MORE FILLING OPTIONS

You can make the traditional Italian pastry cream recipe, or upgrade the classic version with these variations:

  • Chocolate cream: Add 100 g (3.5 oz) of melted dark chocolate, right after you whisk the cream and mix until combined.
  • Lemon cream: Add the rind of an organic lemon (avoid the white bitter underneath layer) whilst you heat the milk, then discard it.
  • Diplomat cream: Mix in 200 ml (6.7 oz) freshly whipped cream after your crema pasticcera is ready (step 5 of the recipe). Diplomat cream is lighter than pastry cream, with a smoother and less jelly-like texture.

How to make St Joseph Zeppole

Below you can find a quick overview of the step-by-step process to make the traditional St Joseph zeppole recipe at home.

Scroll down until the end of the post for the full recipe.

Collage of four images showing the first four steps on how to make zeppole.

STEP 1. Place butter, water, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a saucepan, whisk and bring to a boil over low heat.

STEP 2. Add sifted flour into the pan all at once.

STEP 3. Using a wooden spoon mix until the dough comes together into a smooth ball.

STEP 4. Transfer the dough onto a marble surface and spread it to let it cool.

Collage of four images showing the last four steps to make st josep zeppole.

STEP 5. Transfer the dough to a bowl. Whisk the eggs in a jar, then slowly incorporate them into the dough, whilst whisking, until you have a dense shiny batter.

STEP 6. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star-shaped tip. Pipe the dough into small circles.

STEP 7. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 F/200 C, then lower to 360 F/ 180 C and bake for 20 minutes. Open the oven door slightly, and let zeppole bake for another 5 minutes.

STEP 8. Cut the zeppole horizontally, and fill them with pastry cream. Close, pipe more cream on top, decorate with cherries and serve.

st joseph zeppole filled with pastry cream and topped with black cherry.

How to fry zeppole

You can also make the traditional zeppole by frying them instead of baking them.

Here’s how to fry zeppole:

  • After you have piped the zeppole, transfer them in a preheated oven to 400 F/ 200 C for 10 minutes.
  • Heat a large saucepan with enough oil to fill ⅔ of the pan. The oil is ready when it reaches 340 F/ 170 C.
  • Add a couple of zeppole at a time. Fry them until they puff up and turn golden brown.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer onto a plate covered with kitchen paper.
Italian zeppole with pastry cream and wild cherries.

Tips for the best zeppole

  • I recommend using a kitchen scale, this is one of those recipes where the amount of the ingredients needs to be precise.
  • Cut the butter into small cubes, and make sure it’s melted before the water starts to boil.
  • Don’t add the eggs while the dough is too hot. This can cook the eggs, and give a frittata taste to your zeppole.
  • To cool the batter before adding the eggs, spread it over a marble worktop, or place the dough in a bowl, and then flatten the dough along the sides of the bowl. 
  • Whisk the eggs before adding them to the dough.
  • To pipe the pastry dough and the pastry cream I use a large star tip, but feel free to use whatever tip you have at hand.
  • Leave enough space between the zeppole as they’ll double in size in the oven.
  • Do not open the oven whilst the choux pastries are baking, this could make them collapse.

Storage tips

The non-stuffed zeppole can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Once filled, I recommend keeping them in the refrigerator and consuming them within a couple of days.

More Italian dessert recipes to try

Looking for more sweet recipes? Try these traditional Italian desserts:

Did you try this recipe?

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Recipe

zeppole di san giuseppe.

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St Joseph Zeppole or Zeppole di San Giuseppe are Italian choux pastries filled with pastry cream, and traditionally prepared on Father’s Day.

Prep Time10 minutes

Cook Time35 minutes

Total Time45 minutes

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian

Serving: 15

Calories: 163kcal

Ingredients

  • 80 g butter, cut into chunks
  • 125 g water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, optional
  • a pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest, finely minced, optional
  • 125 g flour
  • 3 medium eggs

Instructions

  • Place the butter, water, salt, sugar (optional) and lemon zest (optional) in a saucepan, whisk gently and bring to a boil over low heat.

  • When the water is starting to boil add the sifted flour all at once. and vigorously mix the flour in. Using a wooden spoon mix until the dough comes together into a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan.

  • Using a wooden spoon mix until the dough and cook for 1-3 minutes, until it comes together into a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan.

  • Transfer the dough onto a marble surface and spread it to let it cool. You can also place the dough in a bowl, and then flatten the dough along the sides of the bowl.

  • Transfer the dough into a bowl. Whisk the eggs in a jar, then slowly incorporate them into the dough, whilst whisking, until you have a creamy, dense shiny dough that is pipeable.

  • Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C and arrange the oven tray onto the middle shelf.

  • Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star-shaped tip. Pipe the dough into 3-inch sized circles (you can make one circle or two overlapping ones) onto a tray covered with parchment paper.

  • Bake the zeppole for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 360°F/ 180°C and bake for 20 minutes. Open the oven door slightly, and let the zeppole bake for another 5 minutes.

  • Transfer the zeppole on a cooling rack, then cut them horizontally, and fill them with pastry cream. Close, and pipe more cream on top, decorate with cherries and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Notes

Please note that all my baking recipes are tested with gram measurements, which are more accurate than cup measurements. US cup amounts are provided, but for best results please always use a scale when measuring ingredients.
Baking tips
I highly recommend using a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients.
Cut the butter into small cubes, and make sure it’s melted before the water starts to boil.
Don’t add the eggs while the dough is too hot. This can cook the eggs, and give a frittata taste to your zeppole.
To pipe the pastry dough and the pastry cream I use a large star tip, but feel free to use whatever tip you have at hand.
Make sure you leave enough space between the zeppole as they’ll double in size in the oven.
Do not open the oven whilst the zeppole are baking, this could make them collapse.
Storage tips
The non-stuffed zeppole can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week.
Once filled, I recommend keeping them in the refrigerator and consuming them within a couple of days at the most.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 181IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.



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