Zeppole di San Giuseppe
Be they ring-shaped and glazed, pillows filled with jam or custard, or rustic fritters tossed in spiced sugar, at GT we have something of a soft spot for doughnuts of all shapes, sizes and cultures. There are several versions to be found in Italy. There are the filled bomboloni most associated with Tuscany, sfingi from Sicily, and our office favourite, the zeppole di San Giuseppe which originated in Naples.
Some zeppole remain unfilled and are simply tossed in sugar or drizzled with honey, while others are filled with a ricotta mixture similar to what you'd find in cannoli. Others still are filled with crema pasticcera, and we've opted for a version of those here, in this case scented with vanilla bean and lemon rind.
The key to success with zeppole di San Giuseppe is to keep the cooking oil at the correct temperature; a thermometer will stand you in good stead. It's a bit of a Goldilocks situation: if the oil is too cool, the doughnuts will be insipid and soggy; too-hot oil will result in an overcooked exterior and a doughy interior; 180C is just right. And cook the doughnuts in small batches to help ensure the oil maintains a steady temperature.
Once they're cooked, drain the doughnuts well on absorbent paper, and cool them to room temperature before filling - otherwise you'll find the filling slipping and sliding all over the place. Be generous with the filling, too - it's all about getting a mouthful that has the right balance of creamy goodness and yielding fluffy pastry. Viva le zeppole.
- 60 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- 40 gm caster sugar
- 300 gm plain flour (2 cups)
- 6 eggs
For deep-frying: vegetable oil
For dusting: pure icing sugar, sieved
Lemon and vanilla custard
- 250 ml milk (1 cup)
- 250 ml thickened cream (1 cup)
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- 6 egg yolks
- 140 gm caster sugar
- 50 gm plain flour (1/3 cup)