OSO-ONO Home Page
Return to List of Fried Doughs
OSO-ONO Home PageLearn about opportunities for you to sell OSO-ONO productsWhere to find products made with OSO-ONO doughLearn about the origins & history of fried doughsAlmost every culture has a fried dough!Our history & contact info

Zeppoles from Italy

Making Italian Zeppoles


Alternate spelling: zeppoli. A filling is optional.

Also called "St. Joseph Day cakes," zeppoles are a part of the St. Joseph Day celebration on March 19th.

Some say that the tradition of St. Joseph’s Day began in Sicily, during the Middle Ages. There was a severe drought. The people prayed for St. Joseph, their patron saint, to intervene. They promised him that, if he answered their prayers and brought rain, they would prepare a big feast in his honor.

Their prayers were answered and the rains came. True to their word, the people of Sicily prepared a banquet and placed huge banquet tables for the poor of the town to enjoy. The day is a day of generosity and kindness. It was not only a way for the people of Sicily to thank St. Joseph for answering their prayers, but a way to share their good fortune with the poor of the town.

Today, the St. Joseph’s Day Altar is still adorned with special foods, flowers, linens, statues, holy cards, candles, medals, wine, and specially prepared breads and cakes. The breads sometimes take the form of fish, because the tradition began in Sicily, where shellfish and fish are more plentiful than meat. Also, no meat is allowed on the table, because the feast day falls during Lent.

The St. Joseph’s Day cake is called, Zeppoli, an Italian bread dough that is either fried or baked. The filling is usually a custard, but some bakeries use cannoli filling. I’ve actually read about some Italian grandmothers who filled the cakes with ricotta cheese, pureed chick peas, oil of cinnamon, and grape jelly!
From an article by Carol Barbieri

"In addition to the market, writes Jeanne Francesconi in La Cucina Napoletana, San Guiseppe is the day for zeppole. The pastry shops and friggitorie (fried food stands) churn them out in astonishing quantity, for eating Zeppole on the 19th is another of those traditions that must be observed. Despite their size everyone eats at least two or three, or even four, because the sweet, delicate pasta bigné, flavored with a hint of cream and one or two bits of candied cherry, is so good and goes down so smoothly."

"May I say, without fear of upsetting too many people, that I prefer the ancestral, simple zeppole dusted with sugar and cinnamon or dipped in honey to their equally respectable modern descendents? Source plus much more historical info

According to this source, sfingi are cannoli cream filled and zeppoli are custard cream filled.

Zeppoles can be made with OSO-ONO Fried Dessert Dough.

Email us a comment about this page