St. Joseph's Day Zeppole- March 19
La Festa Di San Giuseppe
La Festa Di San Giuseppe or the Feast of St. Joseph is celebrated all over Italy, but has a more pronounced sense of festivity in the region of Sicily. The Sicilians consider him to be their patron saint because as the story goes, he was credited with saving them from a drought. They prayed for his intercession and promised that if he would bring rain, then they would be devoted in honoring him. St. Joseph came through, and when the drought ended they were able to grow their crops again. The harvest came and the Sicilian people kept their vow and prepared a great feast for him.
St. Joseph's Altar
The traditional St. Joseph's Table or Altar stems from this story and is a beautiful sight for bread and sweet treat lovers. Sicilians still take pride in their tables, which you may see displayed in homes, churches, and even some Italian cafes. Typically this table will be placed in an area for all to see and partake in. They will set their table nicely with a cloth and fill it with gifts of food and religious significance as a sign of thanks to the saint that saved them. Take a look at the list of the many traditional items you could put on your St. Joseph table! Of course, don't forget to adorn it with a statue or image of this reverenced saint.
Home made bread in the shape of carpenter's tools, sandals, crosses, etc.
Selection of fish (However, St. Joseph's Solemnity this year will fall on a Friday so you can eat meat. Traditionally speaking, because it is within the Lenten season, you should serve fish.)
St. Joseph's Sfingi or Zeppole, which to some Italian regions is not the same thing.
Fava beans, which is said to be one of the spared crops so it is there for good luck and abundance.
This table is meant to be shared, so invite friends and family to contribute to the table and delight in it together!
As you can see from the list, Zeppole is a featured piece and a timeless baking tradition for Italians who would do nothing less than seek to praise this honored saint with delicious sweets. Zeppole is a custard filled pastry that you may see vary slightly from region to region. However, they will all have in common that this is a slightly sweet choux pastry, filled with pastry cream, dusted with powdered sugar, and topped with a cherry.
I am going to be very honest with you, I have tried 3-4 different recipes from Google, all of which were quite difficult to make and either didn't develop the custard to the right consistency, or the choux pastry. After a couple of years of this I thought, enough is enough, and I invited my professional pastry chef sister-in-law over to lend me her expertise. Liz, you are a Zeppole making angel! So when I say that this recipe is tried & true, practiced to perfection, I mean it y'all!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 25-30 minutes
(depending on how hot your oven gets)
Yields: 16 servings
The Ingredients for the Pastry
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
4 eggs at room temperature
Pinch of salt
The Ingredients for the Filling
2 cups milk at room temperature
5 egg yolks
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar to garnish
Cherry to garnish