Very easy to make, zeppole are a type of Italian fritters, very popular in different central and southern regions. They are mainly prepared for the celebration of San Giuseppe, on March 19, the Italian Father’s Day, but in many areas, zeppole are an old tradition also for Christmas.
In the old days, they were a simple and frugal way to make delicious sweets using just flour, water, honey or sugar. They were sold by vendors on the streets, and they are still found at local fairs and open markets. In the last hundreds years, the recipe for zeppole has been changed and the addition of eggs, yeast and other ingredients have transformed it into a sort of Italian doughnut often filled with pastry cream. My recipe is for the old style zeppole which I am sure will please and bring up old memories to many. Enjoy.
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 6):
- 2 1/2 cups/250 grams of all-purpose flour
- 2 cups/1/2 liter of water
- Salt vegetable oil for frying
- 1/2 cup/115 ml of white wine
- 2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon
- 2/3 cup/125 grams of sugar
- Pour the water into a medium saucepan; add the white wine and place on the stove over medium heat. When the water starts making bubbles at the bottom of the pan, add the flour all at once and, with a wooden spoon, stir and work the mix rapidly to avoid lumps.
- Keep stirring and cook until the dough becomes a single ball and it detaches from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and leave the dough to cool down until lukewarm.
- Meanwhile, grease a work surface with a few drops of olive oil. When ready, transfer the dough over it and knead for a couple of minutes to make it smoother.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough and give it a rough rectangular shape; fold one third of the length of the dough over the center, then do the same with the other side, so to create three overlapping layers. Roll out again, and repeat the same way for several times, until the dough is very homogenous. It should take about 7-8 minutes.
- Now roll the dough into small fingers and cut approximately every 5 inches/12.5 centimeters. Join and press the two ends of each piece in order to make a donut-like ring.
- Fry the zeppole in small batches in hot oil until they turn a nice golden color. Transfer to a plate with paper to drain the excess oil. Mix the cinnamon and the sugar together and use to dredge the zeppole before serving – warm (the best) or cold (if there will be any left).
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