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zeppole di san giuseppe

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

The baked San Giuseppe zeppole with mascarpone cream are a variation of the more traditional fried and filled with custard.

The zeppole di San Giuseppe are a traditional Neapolitan dessert. The original recipe includes fried choux doughnuts, then stuffed with custard and garnished with a black cherry on top. The classic cherry on the top?

These pastries are now prepared in all Italian regions during the Carnival period and for Father’s Day, March 19.

Their origin is shrouded in legend and is linked to very ancient traditions.

The first one is of Christian origin and dates back to the birth of the zeppole when Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Egypt. It seems that St. Joseph had to become not only a carpenter but also a street vendor of pancakes in order to provide for his family. The tradition of making the Zeppole di San Giuseppe the typical dessert on Father’s Day comes from this very origin.

A second legend would lead us back, instead, to Rome, during the feasts of Liberalia in honor of the gods dispensing wine and grain. During these feasts, which were celebrated on March 17th (in homage to Bacchus and Silenus) wine and ambrosia were drunk and delicious wheat fritters were eaten, fried in boiling lard.

Certainly the first recipes were very different from those we know today. It is said that a variation similar to the current one was born only in 1700 and that the nuns were the best at cooking them.

The zeppola di San Giuseppe appeared for the first time in written form in the essay “La Cucina Teorico Pratica” of 1837, by the Neapolitan gastronome Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Buonvicino.

In the version that proposes @brianorenata, (information about their history and origins are also hers) the zeppole are baked and the cream is without cooking, therefore faster and easier to prepare.

zeppole di san giuseppe

Recipe of the Zeppole di San Giuseppe


For the dough

  • Water
  • 90 g Butter in pieces
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 125 g Flour 00
  • 3 Fresh eggs

For the cream

  • 200 g Mascarpone
  • 200 ml Fresh liquid cream
  • 60 g Icing sugar
  • Icing sugar to spread at the end


Add water, chunks of butter and salt in a saucepan and light the fire.

When it boils, remove the pot from the heat and add all the sifted flour, stirring vigorously with a licker (or a wooden spoon).

When the dough comes off the walls of the pot, it means it’s ready.

Let it cool for 10 minutes then add the three eggs, one egg at a time at regular intervals, stirring until each egg is well amalgamated in the mixture.

In the meantime, turn on the oven at 200°C static.

Transfer the dough into a star-tipped piping bag.

Cover the baking tray with baking paper and form rings by making two concentric rounds of dough and leaving 3 cm distance between them. I recommend the distance! In baking, in fact, the zeppole will swell.

Bake in a hot oven at 200°C in static mode for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 180°C and bake for another 10 minutes or until the zeppole are well browned.

Turn off the oven, leave it half-closed and leave the zeppole inside to dry for 10 minutes.

Take out of the oven carefully and leave to cool completely.

Move on to the preparation of the cream.

Whip the mascarpone cheese, cream and icing sugar in a bowl with electric whips. The cream must become firm.

Place the cream in a sac a poche with a star-shaped nozzle.

Cut the zeppole in half, fill the base with a round of mascarpone cream. Then close with the other half.

Stuff the surface with more cream. Repeat for all the zeppole.

Keep in the fridge until it is time to serve.

Sprinkle the zeppole on the surface with icing sugar before serving.

Enjoy your meal!

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