Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A “Zeppole” Recipe For "National Doughnut Day" & "Tips" For "Tip Tuesday"

Let’s celebrate! Friday, June 3rd is “National Doughnut Day!” Who knew that this incredible, edible, and sweet piece of dough which is deep-fried would be one of our nation’s favorite foods? The doughnut or aka “donut” was first served to the soldiers by the Salvation Army during World War I. The doughnuts were often cooked in oil inside the metal helmets of American soldiers. American infantrymen were then commonly called “doughboys.” A more common spelling is “Donut.” National Doughnut Day started in 1938 as a fund raiser for Chicago’s Salvation Army. The goal of this day was to help the needy during the Great Depression, and to honor the “Lassies” of the Salvation Army.

There's something magical about the doughnut. Especially when you're greeted with all the bright colors, sparkly decorations, and gooey glazed tops in a doughnut shop display case. But no matter how delicious they look, it is hard to find a store-bought doughnut that compares with the ones that are homemade. Believe it or not, they're really not hard to make. You can make up a batch of cake doughnuts in about an hour. Put together a batch of yeast-raised the night before, and all you have to do is fry them the next morning.

Now, instead of an American donut method, I thought I would share an Italian donut recipe which is called a Zeppole. I can’t imagine going to a feast or a carnival and not getting a bag of hot fried dough balls covered in powdered sugar. They are used to celebrate the Italian Father’s Day, the feast of St. Joseph, and are known as the bigne’ di San Giuseppe. I know this sounds not like a very healthy choice, but they are the most delicious dough balls ever. I would think that everyone has had a few in their lifetime, but if you haven’t had one I will try to explain what they taste like. They are like the middle of a doughnut, only bigger, they are chewy, sweet, and a little greasier than a regular donut. You should have them hot, right from the oil served with confection sugar sprinkled all over them. I have to tell you to try them, they are so good but addicting. 

Zeppole originated in Italy, primarily know in Rome and Naples but are known in many Italian American communities in the United States as well. They can also be filled with custard, jelly, cannoli style pastry cream, whipped cream, candied fruits, chocolate pudding, and also filled with ricotta mixed with small pieces of chocolate chips. The custom was popularized in the early 19th century by the Neapolitan baker Pasquale Pintauro. Zeppole can also be savory, and consist of fried bread dough often filled with anchovies. In parts of Calabria, Italy, (my mom’s family is from there) the anchovies are consumed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. In Malta, Italy, anchovy zeppole are traditionally consumed during the Lent fasting period. 

On June 3rd, Dunkin' Donuts will offer guests worldwide a free donut of their choice with the purchase of any beverage. Check out donut shops in your local area to see if they are celebrating “National Donut Day” by giving away free donuts. 

To honor National Doughnut Day, I am sharing my version of an Italian donut the “Zeppole.” My recipe this week is from a cookbook I received from my niece, Emily at Christmas. She waited on a long line to purchase this book and even had it signed from the Master Chef Lidia Bastianich herself. The book is called “Lidia’s Mastering The Art Of Italian Cuisine.” I have the pleasure to participate in my food blogger friend Louise‘s, Months Of Edible Celebrations.” She is posting to her blog recipes that are taken from cookbooks, magazines, booklets, etc. on Wednesday, as “Cookbook Wednesdays.” So stop over at her blog and tell her that I sent you, she may have a cup of coffee for you.

 “Zeppole” (serves 18)

Ingredients for dough:
2 cups of water
4 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
1/ 2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
4 large eggs at room temperature
Vegetable oil for frying 

Heat oil to 350°F. in a wide saucepan or a deep fryer. (The oil should be an inch or two deep) Use a candy thermometer to check the temp. In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup of water, the butter, granulated sugar, and salt over medium heat. Bring this to a boil stirring to melt the butter. While stirring add the flour and the zest all at once. Cook, stirring constantly, until the dough dries out and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 3 or 4 minutes. Take off of the heat, cool a little bit, then add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously to incorporate one before adding the next, until the dough is completely smooth. (this is like a cream puff dough) 

My Zeppoles
Drop the Zeppole dough in 2 tablespoon dollops into the oil. (A small ice-cream scoop is perfect for this) Do not crowd them in the oil as they will grow in size. Fry the Zeppole turning on all sides until they are light and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes per batch. Drain them on paper towels and repeat with the remaining dough. To serve, dust with confectioners sugar, or granulated sugar, or some honey. 



Safety First When Making Doughnuts Or Zeppoles! 

When deep-frying, the cooking oil reaches very high temperatures, which can start fires or cause burns. Before you roll up your sleeves to make doughnuts, review a few safety guidelines:
  • Have a kitchen fire extinguisher handy (and learn now to use it!) before you begin.
  • Avoid letting water come into contact with the hot oil -- the water will vaporize into steam, which can make the oil spatter and cause burns.
  • Never use water to put out a grease fire. Use a kitchen fire extinguisher, or cover the fire with a metal lid.
  • Always add oil to a cold fryer that is turned off or an unheated pan. Make sure any fryer or pan you use is dry and set away from sources of water.
  • Never leave the fryer or pan unattended when it is in use.
  • When finished frying, turn off and unplug the fryer (or remove the pan from the heat). Make sure the fryer or pan is completely cool before cleaning.
  • Once oil is completely cooled, pour it into a resealable container and discard it in the trash. Never pour it down the drain, as it can harden and clog pipes.
  •  Fry in a heavy pot with walls high enough to leave at least a few inches clearance above the surface of the oil. I think Dutch ovens are excellent vessels for frying.
  •  Use an oil or fat with a high smoke-point to prevent burning. Canola and Grape seed oil are good choices (canola is more economical) or use lard or shortening instead.
  • When placing the doughnuts into the oil, hover over the surface, and then gently slide them into the oil. Do not drop from high above the surface, which will cause the oil to splatter upward.
  • Constantly monitor the temperature of the oil. It needs to be 350°F or a bit lower for frying. Do not allow it to go above, which can cause it to smoke and make it a fire risk. Never leave a pot set on the stove unattended. Never pour liquid into hot oil.

Till Next Time……………..

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved.


  1. Hi Dottie! Happy June! Oh OMGoodness, how I adore Zeppole!!! The stories I could tell about the zeppoles of my past, lol...I can't remember the last time I've had one. It's amazing that something so simple can leave such lasting memories!

    Look at that, I got so excited, I completely forgot to congratulate you on your signed book from Chef Lidia Bastianich! That is one special niece you have there:) What a GREAT book! Thank you so much for sharing it with us for Cookbook Wednesday Dottie.

    Once again, I must take a minute to commend you on your timely tips. Thanks Dottie:)

    1. Dear Louise,

      Happy June to you too my friend! Thanks for visiting. I know who doesn't like Zeppoles? I love them and my nieces and nephews ask me all the time to make them. I have such fond memories of when my grandmother taught me how to make them. My great grandmother Sofia would have a stick and after she placed them in the hot oil she would put the stick in the middle and make a hole with the stick.

      Yes the cookbook was such a surprise to me when Emily gave it to me, I was so thrilled..She really is a sweet person to think of me and ask Lidia to sign it with my food blog on the inside cover page.
      Thanks for moving over my Cookbook Wednesday photo. Because I post on Tuesday it never seems to go over to Wednesday without you moving it. Sorry, but thanks...Frying is so dangerous that you have to know what you are doing or you can get hurt or worse. So I thought the tips would be perfect on frying for this post...

      Thanks again for your comments and have a great rest of the week dear friend.

      Hugs and love Dottie X :)

  2. Love Zeppole! One of those things I've never made -- they're festival food for me, usually purchased at a street fair. Really should try them myself sometime. Using your recipe, of course -- it's wonderful. Great tips about frying, too. Frying freaks out a lot of people, but it's a wonderful technique.

    1. Hi John,
      Thank you for your comment and for visiting. I agree John, love those Zeppoles and street fairs is where I first came to know these little balls of goodness. You should make them, I get requests from my family many times through the year. Frying is a delicate procedure and you really have to know the right ways or you will end up with problems. Thanks again...Have a good rest of the week..
      Dottie :)

  3. Mmm.. zeppole! Who can resist a doughnut? They are just amazing, to die for really but you are right here my friend, homemade ones are just no comparable to store bought ones.
    I have made them a few times and whenever I do memories of my mom and grandma making them when I was little are just so vivid. I will never forget coming home from school and the smell of freshly made doughnuts and carnival cakes was just so overwhelming. This usually happened once a year for Carnival. They would make so many!
    Thank you for your safety tips, frying can be dangerous if it is not done properly. Ciao!!

    1. Dear Alida,
      Thanks for your lovely comment. I adore these little balls of happiness. Plus as we said it is the homemade ones that are the best. Love your memory that is one to be treasured. I can just imagine the aroma in the house as they were making them. My grandmother used to say we were eating them faster than she could make them. It was great times and beautiful memories of the past. Frying can be dangerous, but with the correct methods frying can be delicious. Thanks again dear friend...enjoy the rest of your week. Ciao bella!
      Hugs Dottie :) x

  4. Yum! Those look tasty, and much easier than making traditional doughnuts. I love that cookbook. I had the privilege of interviewing Lidia about the book for a newspaper article. She is a sweet woman.

    1. Hi Linda,
      Welcome aboard...thank you for your lovely comment. These are so yummy, that you will be addicted to them. They are very simple to make but you have to have them hot out of the oil...That is awesome that you interviewed Lidia for a newspaper article. I have only seen her once in a bookstore as she was leaving. But never had the privilege to meet her in person. She must be very nice and I watch her TV shows all the time. Thanks again for your visit, please do come back and enjoy my other posts through the years...Have a wonderful rest of the week..
      Dottie :)

  5. You must have nerves of steel -- I'd never dare try donuts! I do love Lidia's cooking shows on TV, though I haven't watched them lately. And I watch VERY LITTLE food TV, she's my exception! Lucky you to have met her.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    1. Hi Mae,
      Thank you for your comment and your visit. No nerves of steel, I have been frying for most of my adult life and learned by the best, my mom and grandmothers. As long as you are careful and know the rules of frying you are ok. These Zeppoles are awesome to eat and they are so easy. I love Lidia and her shows on TV. She has taught me a lot of good tips on her shows. I did not meet her, my niece Emily, did as she waited on line to get the book signed for me as a Christmas present. I would love to have met her. Hope to someday she is an inspiration to me. Thanks again for reading and enjoying the post. Have a great rest of the week..
      Dottie :) x

  6. Hi Dottie! I've never heard of Zeppoles but they sound delicious! They have to be a great fun good thing to make. I've made donuts several times, in fact one time, Bill and I took everything out to the garage and made them there and didn't worry about grease splatters, etc :-) but my MIL made them often and what a treat they were! So June 3rd is the day I will be at Dunkin Donuts! Great post and cookbook too! Take care

    1. Hi Pam,
      Can't believe that you have never heard of Zeppoles? They are delicious especially when they are hot from the hot oil. Your donuts made in the garage sounds like that must have been fun. Yes, enjoy your free donuts on National Donut Day..Thanks for your comment and for visiting. Have a great day dear friend.
      Hugs Dottie :) x

  7. Dear Dottie, These donuts are a part of my growing up. My mother would make them also at mid-night on Christmas Eve. It was tradition. I love them.
    I hope you are feeling better and all is getting better for you.
    I think of you often, though life has been a bit hectic and I am trying to catch up to visit everyone.
    xoxo Catherine

    1. Dear Catherine,
      Thanks for visiting and your comment. So thrilled that I was able to bring back many happy memories of your mom and the traditions in your family. I agree my friend my mom used to make these as well as my grandmother. I have my days some are better than others but I am plugging along. My mom and dad are the same at this time and as you know things take long and it is a slow process. I also have thought of you and wonder what is next on your fabulous blog. I also have to try to catch up on at times. So I understand how you feel. I don't get to your blog every time you post. Thanks for your thoughts and your prayers...Blessings for a terrific week ahead.
      Hugs Dottie :)xx