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Italian Zeppole Dessert

italian-zeppole-recipeEaster will be here in early April this year and I can remember the excitement and anticipation of this holy celebration among Catholics starting with Ash Wednesday. My Mother and my Aunts, the blue ribbon cooks in our family, would plan and prepare some delicious meals, including desserts. There were many meatless dishes that were prepared during the forty days of lent.

As children, most of us would give up eating sweets during those forty fast days. Come Easter Sunday, a full course meal of meat, pasta, and salads and pastries, pies, and cakes were a child’s dream after the 40 days of giving up sweets. I can still smell the aromas coming from the family cooks on the days prior to Easter. They would be preparing for days the scrumptious feast for this special holiday.

One of the pastries I loved, Zeppole, sorry to say is deep fried, but it is a once or twice a year treat and so delicious. It is a Neapolitan Italian treat and is sold at many Italian fairs and feast celebrations throughout America and Europe. This is my Mother’s simple recipe for this Italian delicacy which is always served warm. Enjoy them plain, dusted with confectioners’ sugar, or a drizzle of honey.

Ingredients:

Serves: 6 (Double or triple the ingredients to make more Zeppole)

  • 1 pkg Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup All Purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup water (warm not hot)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil or canola oil

Directions:

  1. Pour vegetable or canola oil in a heavy duty saucepan to a depth of 3 inches.
  2. In a large bowl empty the package of yeast and slowly add the warm water not hot (110°-115°). Gently stir to dissolve the yeast. Let sit till yeast mixture starts to foam.
  3. Add the flour and salt and blend well. The mixture will be stringy and runny.
    zeppole-flour-mix
  4. Cover and let rise in warm area 1 to 1 ½ hours until bubbly and double in size.
    zeppole-batter
  5. Heat oil (3 inch deep) in a heavy saucepan. When oil is hot 375° (test by dropping in a little dough. If it sizzles and rises to the top the oil is hot) drop by tablespoon. Fry three or four at a time.
    zeppole-oil
  6. Fry each side until golden brown. Continually turn Zeppole while frying to evenly brown all over.
    fried-zeppole
  7. Drain well on paper towels. Serve warm, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, or a drizzle of honey or plain.
    zeppole-dessert

17 Responses to “Italian Zeppole Dessert”

  1. Lizette says:

    Hello Mary,

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I’ve made these thrice before (using a different recipe) but somehow I couldn’t make it fluffy – airy – but I followed the instructions carefully. I searched for zeppole on youtube and found yours, tried making it and I was so happy that they were airy. We don’t have zeppole in the Philippines so I really don’t have an idea what it’s supposed to be really like, but they say it’s light and fluffy. I really love it especially with powdered sugar. Thank you again!

    Have a happy Halloween!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Lizette:
      How exciting to know that zeppole is a new taste treat for you. They are so easy to make, just make sure the oil is hot and the batter is thin and airy (like wallpaper paste). Try dipping the hot zeppole in honey as well as sprinkling with powdered sugar. Happy Holidays to you.

    • Eva La Rocca says:

      Hi Mary, For the last 20 years since living with mother-in-law, it was tradition for her to make zeppole every Christmas Eve. She just turned 94 and is a little short of memory so it was over to me to continue the tradition. Google led me to your site. After taste testing about 20 of them, hubby has given the approval!. Thanks for your help.
      ps I think yours are better than mother-in-law’s. 😉
      Merry Christmas!
      Eva in Sydney Australia

  2. Mia says:

    Hi Mary! Thanks for sharing your recipe. 🙂 I’m planning on making this later in the day. How much (in measurement) is 1 package of dry yeast?

    • Mary says:

      Hi Mia:
      There is 2 1/4 teaspoons in a package. When using bulk yeast I measure out a little less than a tablespoon. Have fun making the zeppole and please let me know how you like them.

  3. Mia says:

    It was really delicious! It was my first time to make bread (with yeast and all) and I’m so happy with the results! I made a few variations though. I didn’t wait for 1 hour until the dough rose. I love it with chocolate dip, my parents love them! Thank you so so much again! May the Lord bless you and your family. xoxo

    • Mary says:

      Hi Mia:
      Thanks for commenting on how you and your parents enjoyed the zeppole and congratulations on using yeast for the first time. Remember the dough will not rise but should be bubbly and “pasty” in consistency to get a nice fluffly zeppole. Happy Holidays and keep up the good work.

  4. Judith says:

    I’m a little confused. In the recipe, it says to use Rapid Rise Yeast. In the video, you say to use dry yeast. Which one am I supposed to use. They are distinctly different.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Judith
      Use the active dry yeast. It is the type I have used the longest but I realize the company has developed different types of yeast for quicker dissolving and I have used whatever type I had on hand. However, for this recipe the active dry yeast works the best.

  5. Harry B. says:

    Hi Mary! Question…. in the video you say to use 1 cup water and 1 cup flour but the written recipe call for 1 1/4 cup flour and 1 cup water. What recipe should i go by? The video or the written one?

    thanks,

    Harry

    • Mary says:

      Hi Harry:
      Sorry about the confusion. use the written one. However, the exact amount is not as important as having the mixture of flour and water similar to the consistency of wallpaper paste.

  6. Sally D. says:

    Hi Mary, thank you for this great recipe. I was wondering how long the dough mixture stays fresh – I would love to try this dessert in my restaurant. Would it be possible to make the mixture and leave it on the counter for a few hours,or will it continue to be loose or rise and become breadlike? Thanks!
    Sally

    • Mary says:

      Hi Sally:
      Glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe and would love to serve it in your restaurant. Since I always made this for my family who couldn’t wait for me to start making them, I didn’t have the opportunity to let the dough rise more than was necessary for frying (no more than an hour). I suggest making a small batch, keep the bowl covered, and see how long it takes before the dough becomes too fermented from the yeast. The dough will not be breadlike but may become to runny and lose it’s ability to puff up when frying. Hope this helps. Happy New Year and enjoy.

  7. Loretta Nocella says:

    My grandmother from southern Italy would boil these in honey after frying the dough– just til coated with the honey mixture as the last step..YUM

  8. leonora says:

    Hi Mary, thank you for this great recipe.

  9. Iliana says:

    Hello Mary. You mentioned making a big batch in the video. Should I double or triple all the ingredients to make a double or triple batch? How do I make a bigger batch?

  10. Chris says:

    Hi Mary,

    If I use the rapid rise yeast how long should I let the dough rise? The recipe only has the length for the dry yeast.

    Much appreciated and Merry Christmas!

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