Growing Up In Rahway, New Jersey
Hearty, healthy meals are created with gentle hands and warm hearts. This I learned as a youngster growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in the wonderful ethnic mix of Rahway, New Jersey. Home kitchens brimming with incredible dishes brought with card from the old world. This harvest of flavors was a great influence of my boyhood.
Melio Paolantonio, my best friend's dad was a great home cook, and for many years operated a Zeppole stand on the Keansburg Boardwalk. Most likely, this recipe method made its way through Ellis Island in the 1800’s, passed down through the family, to me and now to you. Trust me, you will Enjoy! Chef Charles Knight
A Zeppole or zeppoli, is a light Italian pastry consisting of a baked or deep-fried dough ball of varying size. This doughnut or fritter is usually topped with powdered or cinnamon sugar, and may be filled with sweetened Ricotta, jelly, cannoli style pastry cream or a butter-and-honey mixture. The consistency ranges from light and puffy, to bread- or pasta-like.
Zeppole are typical of Italian cuisine, especially that of Rome and Naples. They are also served in Sicily, Sardinia, on the island of Malta, and in Italian-American communities in the United States. Zeppole are known by other names, including Binge di San Giuseppe, St. Joseph's Day cake, and sfinge. Zeppole are traditionally consumed during the Festa di San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph's Day) celebrated every March 19, when zeppole are sold on many streets and sometimes presented as gifts.
The custom was popularized in the early 19th century by Neapolitan baker Pasquale Pintauro.
EQUIPMENT: 11in Stir Fry Skillet, wooden spoon, 5-n-1 Cooker or 4qt Stockpot and Induction Cooker, tablespoon, long handle slotted spoon or skimmer.
PREPARATION about 1 hour – Makes 20-24 Zeppole
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 3 whole eggs, beaten
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- 1 package yeast (if baking)
- 5 cups Pure Olive Oil, (if frying)
- Powdered sugar
In the Stir Fry Skillet, over medium-high heat 250°F (121°C), bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil. Add the flour (and yeast if baking), and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough releases from the sides of the pan and forms a ball around the spoon. Remove from heat and add 1 beaten egg at a time, mixing thoroughly until the batter is smooth after each addition.
FRYING: Add the Pure Olive Oil (or vegetable oil) to the 5-n-1 Cooker or 6qt Stockpot on the Induction Cooker and set the temperature to 350°F (180°C). Allow 15 to 20 minutes for oil to reach temperature. (Note: frying temperature is critical, especially with Zeppole, too high and the oil will have a burnt taste. Too low and it will be heavy and greasy.)
Using a tablespoon full of the batter rounded, drop the batter into the oil and fry, about 5 or 6 at a time, allowing the zeppole to float freely. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer turn the zeppole as necessary, until puffed up to 3-times+ its original size and golden brown on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and drain on brown paper bag or paper towels.
BAKING: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Drop the batter by rounded tablespoon full onto a lightly greased Cookie Sheet or Jelly Roll Pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.
Dust the tops of the zeppole with powdered sugar and serve hot or warm.