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St.Joseph’s Pastries {Zeppole di San Giuseppe}

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St. Joseph’s Pastries or Zeppole di San Giuseppe are traditional cream filled pastries from Campagna region of Italy.

A little bit of curiosity

Zeppole di San Giuseppe is a MUST-MAKE for Saint Joseph’s Day (March 19) which is one of the principal feasts in Western Christianity.

Since Saint Joseph is known to be the foster-father of Jesus Christ, in Italy on this day we also celebrate Father’s Day.

Zeppole shells are made of a classic choux pastry dough or pâte à choux and are filled with delicious, silky pastry cream.

Since choux pastry dough is know to play games when handled incorrectly (not rise or turn flat when out of the oven) it’s really important to get it right, so that you can have perfect, puffy, well baked pastries to fill with cream.

In this recipe you’ll learn how to make St. Joseph’s Zeppole step by step.

Useful Tools

Durable pastry bag (cloth or silicone) and a large star tip is really handy if you want to make this perfect swirl shape pastry.

But you can definitely form (not so perfect) shells just using 2 spoons to scoop and arrange the dough.

I use the same tip to pipe the dough, fill pastries and decorate pastries with cream.

How To Make Choux Pastry Dough Step By Step

  • Start by combining water, butter and salt in a pot placed over medium heat.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add all flour at once.
  • Using a wooden spoon mix energetically until the dough comes together in a smooth ball.
  • Continue mixing and cooking on low heat for a few minutes.
St. Joseph's Pastry (Zeppole)- Step 1
  • Transfer the dough into a mixer bowl.
  • Using a dough hook beat it for about a couple of minutes to let the dough cool.
  • Once the dough is cool start beating in the eggs one at a time.
  • Add the next egg ONLY once the previous one has been completely incorporated.

TIP: Add all eggs one by one except the last one. Beat the last egg with a fork and add in small portions until you reach the perfect consistency of the dough.

How to know when you have a Perfect Choux Pastry Dough?

The perfect choux pastry dough should look more like thick cream, not dough. It is smooth and glossy. It hangs from the spoon and stretching slowlu falls off leaving kind of a V shape on the spoon.

St. Joseph's Pastry (Zeppole)- Step 2
  • Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star-shaped tip, decide if you want to bake them on the oven or deep fry and start piping zeppole.
  • There’s a slight difference how to do so depending if you’re going to deep fry or bake them in the oven which I explain below.

If for some reason your dough doesn’t hold it’s shape, it’s not too late. See Extra Tips section for troubleshooting.

Oven Baked Zeppole or Deep Fried?

In the most classic version zeppole are deep fried in extra virgin olive oil.

But honestly, I prefer oven baked zeppole, which is a much more healthier, less messy (which is pretty important) and equally DELICIOUS version.

How To Bake Zeppole

  • Preheat oven to 375F/ 190C
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper.Pipe the dough into 3 inch in diameter circles with about an inch and a half hole in the middle.Make sure to leave enough space between the pastries as they’ll double in size in the oven.
  • Bake in preheated to 375F oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly brown. Don’t open the oven during the first 25 minutes or until your zeppole a lightly brown. Past 25 minutes open the oven door for a few inches and let zeppole bake for another 5-10 minutes this way.

IMPORTANT NOTE: depending on the oven you use it might take a little longer for zeppole to cook through, especially if you’re using a static oven. Last time I baked zeppole in a static oven it took them 35 minutes to brown lightly + 10 more minutes with the oven door slightly oven. I also had to dial up the temperature a couple of degrees.

It’s really important not to open the oven before zeppole are lightly brown! It means that they’re not yet cooked in side and the moisture in the dough will turn them flat immediately. So pay attention to that.

St. Joseph's Pastry (Zeppole)- Step 3

How To Fry Zeppole

  • Preheat vegetable oil suitable for frying to 375F in a deep sautee pan.
  • Cut out 3 inch squares of parchment paper or aluminum foil, brush one side of the square with vegetable oil.
    Pipe the dough on each square forming a circle.
  • Deep squares in hot oil a few at a time. The paper will separate from the fritters in the hot oil.
  • You can remove it using small tongs. Fry zeppole until lightly brown. Transfer on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Fill Pastries With Cream

  • Let pastries cool. Cut each in half. Fill a pastry bag with pastry cream.
  • Pipe pastry cream on the bottom half, cover with top and pipe another star or swirl of a pastry cream on the top.
  • Decorate with cherries.
    Dust with confectioners sugar.
St. Joseph's Pastry (Zeppole)- Step 4

Cream Filling Variations

Classic vanilla pastry cream filling can be flavored with lemon or orange zest or a combination of both!

You can also use your favorite kind of cream.

Chantilly Cream (whipped cream), Diplomat Cream, Ricotta Cream.

The only kind of cream I don’t recommend using is all kinds of heavy creams, like butter cream for example.

St.Joseph's Pastry {Zeppole di San Giuseppe}

Extra Tips To Make Perfect Zeppole

Making a perfect puffy zeppole shell guarantees 95% success of the outcome. So let’s look into some common things that might go wrong with Zeppole shell.

  • You prepared the dough measuring ingredients with a kitchen scale (highly recommended!) and it’s too runny, doesn’t hold the shape when piped.
    What to do: prepare another batch of dough without the eggs. Cook it well according to directions in the recipe and let cool completely.
    Once extra dough is cool start adding it to the main dough mixing well until you’ve reached the desired consistency.
  • The shells puffed well in the oven, but went flat when they cooled.
    What to do: bake them for a little longer and dialing up
Zeppole - St Joseph Pastry
5 from 1 vote

St.Joseph’s Pastry – Zeppole di San Giuseppe

St. Joseph’s Pastries or Zeppole di San Giusepper are traditional cream filled pastries from Campagna region.
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 12 pastries

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 285 ml water approx 1 ¼ cup minus 1 tbsp
  • 200 grams flour approx 1 ⅔ cup
  • 115 grams butter 4 oz
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ tsp salt

For Pasty Cream:

  • 2 ⅔ cup whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup corn starch approx 60 grams
  • 60 grams butter 2 oz
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For Decoration:

Tools

Instructions

Pastry Cream

  • Beat egg yolks with sugar. Add corn starch, vanilla and ½ cup milk. Beat everything well until you get a smooth and even lump free batter .
  • Heat remaining milk on a stove-top without boiling it.
    Turn the heat on low and slowly start pouring in egg yolk batter.
  • Whisk virgoruously to prevent formation of lumps and cream sticking to the bottom of the pot. Continue whisking until the cream starts to become pretty thick and turns into custard.
  • Be careful not to overcook it otherwise you’ll get a sweet omelet.
    Once you see consistency of the cream is thick enough add butter, whisk until it’s completely incorporated.
  • Transfer the pastry cream in a large bowl, cover with a plastic wrap making it touch the cream. Let cool completely.

Zeppole

  • In a medium stovetop pot combine water, butter and salt.
    Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add all flour at once. Using a wooden spoon mix energetically until the dough comes together in a smooth ball.
    Continue mixing and cooking on low heat for a few minutes.
  • Transfer the dough into a mixer bowl.
    Using a dough hook beat it for about a few minutes to let the dough cool.
    Once the dough is cool start beating in the eggs one at a time. Add the next egg ONLY once the previous one has been completely incorporated.
    TIP: Add all eggs one by one except the last one. Beat the last egg with a fork and add in small portions until you reach the perfect consistency of the dough.
  • Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star-shaped tip and start piping zeppole. There's a slight difference how to do so depending if you're going to deep fry or bake them in the oven.

Now you have 2 options

    Baked Zeppole

    • Preheat oven to 375F/ 190C
    • Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
      Pipe the dough into 3 inch in diameter circles with about an inch and a half hole in the middle.
      Make sure to leave enough space between the pastries as they’ll double in size in the oven.
    • Bake in preheated to 375F oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly brown. Don’t open the oven during the first 25 minutes. Past 25 minutes open the oven door for a few inches and let zeppole bake for another 5-10 minutes this way.
      IMPORTANT NOTE: depending on the oven you use it might take a little longer for zeppole to cook through, especially if you're using a static oven. Last time I baked zeppole in a static oven it took them 35 minutes to brown lightly + 10 more minutes with the oven door slightly oven. I also had to dial up the temperature a couple of degrees.

    Fried Zeppole

    • Preheat vegetable oil suitable for frying to 375F in a deep sautee pan.
    • Cut out 3 inch squares of parchment paper or aluminum foil, brush one side of the square with vegetable oil.
      Pipe the dough on each square forming a circle.
    • Deep squares in hot oil a few at a time. The paper will separate from the fritters in the hot oil.
    • You can remove it using small tongs. Fry zeppole until lightly brown. Discard on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

    Fill pastries with cream

    • Let pastries cool. Cut each in half.
      Fill a pastry bag with pastry cream.
    • Pipe pastry cream on the bottom half, cover with top and pipe another star or swirl of a pastry cream on the top.
    • Decorate with cherries.
      Dust with confectioners sugar.

    Notes

    Decorate with cherry. You can use simple compote cherries or candied cherries.
    Liked this recipe?Follow @italianrecipeb for more!

    Recipe has been updated to slightly larger portion of ingredients and extra tips on March 17, 2020.

    My mouth is watering just from looking at the pics 😋

    zeppole cut cream inside

    Buon Appetito!

    Not in the mood to turn the oven on?
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    Most of them are ready in under 20 minutes and there’s ZERO baking involved 😉💃

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    Recipe Rating




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    Lisa

    Monday 17th of February 2020

    Hi, I just made you zeppole and I notice mine came flat instead of duffle. How can I change that is there something I did wrong? Please help

    Carolyn Tartaglia

    Monday 18th of March 2019

    I made the recipe for st Joseph the shells did not get puffy they were flat? I followed it!

    Italian Recipe Book

    Thursday 28th of March 2019

    Hi Carolyn, have you measured dry ingredients using a kitchen scale? Because the right consistency of the dough is key. If the shells turned out flat most likely the dough was too runny or they were removed from the oven too early. Is any of this true?

    Bea

    Tuesday 26th of February 2019

    I love these cream puffs with diplomat cream I use a French star tip too! Even for my eclairs because I find they bake better. Thanks for sharing.

    Italian Recipe Book

    Wednesday 6th of March 2019

    Hi Bea! Thanks for stopping by. Star tip is one of my favorite. I use it for Italian Butter Cookies, cake decoration and now will definitely try for eclairs too ;)

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