St. Joseph’s Day cake

As you may or may not know [more likely not..], in Italy Father’s day is celebrated on the 19th March. It doesn’t necessarily fall on a Sunday and fathers usually get presents of notorious boringness — ties, aftershaves, socks etc. — so I guess it’s only fair that they have at least their own sweets. As the name suggests, St. Joseph’s choux pastry puffs are typical of this occasion. In Italian they are called bigne di S. Giuseppe or zeppole di S. Giuseppe depending on whether the recipe is from Rome or Naples respectively.

My choux buns... cuties!

This is how they are described on Wikipedia:

A zeppola (plural zeppole, in southern dialects zeppoli) or St. Joseph’s Day cake, also called sfinge, and in Rome Bignè di S. Giuseppe, is a pastry typical of Roman, Neapolitanand generally peninsular Italian cuisine.[1] They are also served in Sicily and on the island of Malta.

Commonly light-weight, deep-fried dough balls about 2 inches (5.1 cm) in diameter, these doughnuts or fritters are usually topped with powdered sugar and may be filled with custard,jelly, cannoli-style pastry cream or a butter-and-honey mixture. Their consistency ranges from light and puffy, to bread or pasta-like.

They are so popular that a lighter, oven baked version is available in bakeries all year round, and that is the one I referred to when I decided to give them a try.

There are many variations online, but I kept it simple and used recipes from the Roux Brothers’ book both for the choux pastry and for the creme patissiere.