ZEPPOLE, FRIED SWEETS

What is it about zeppole that has everybody drooling?

Lidia, Marianna’s mother from Dolcetti, had customers lining up for hers at the Sweets Festival held recently at the Immigration Museum.

She began mixing her first batch of dough with ricotta – this is very traditional when making the sweet version of zeppole. The next batch had fennel seeds and a pinch of chilli; what was interesting about hers is that even this batch was rolled in caster sugar – I love that mix of savoury with the sweet that Sicilians are particularly proud of. By the end of the day someone was sent out to buy more flour and the zeppole were just plain dough rolled in castor sugar infused with vanilla bean and still the customers lined up and were prepared to wait for their order.

Dolcetti stall – frying zeppole at Immigration Museum Sweets Festival

Now the funny thing about zeppole is that they are called by different names in various parts of Sicily – sfinci, sfinci di San Giuseppe, sfingi, crispeddi, sfincia: Whatever they are called, they are traditionally eaten at the feast of Saint Joseph – who looks after the poor, and San Martino – he looks after wine. Some Sicilian variations include a ricotta filling (rather than in the mixture).

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Different versions of these fritters are found all over Italy. In Trieste and Venice they are called frittole – this version has sultanas (soaked in rum beforehand) and rolled in cinnamon in the castor sugar. When the Triestini side of my family made them, they also added lemon or orange peel to the mixture – these are traditional at the time of Carnevale. In Naples they call theirs graffe. Older people living in Adelaide may remember Asio from Asio’s Restaurant. He was from Tuscany and he called his frati. I knew Asio when I was a child and he used to make these for my family.

The traditional dough is basically a sloppy bread dough made with yeast and warm water with a little sugar and a little salt.

*You could cheat and use self raising flour and no yeast. They taste pretty good but remember that although you are making the easy version, they will not be traditional.

INGREDIENTS
plain flour, 3 cups
warm water, 2 cups (or more- the dough should be soft)
eggs, 3
yeast, 2 g active dry yeast,3 g compressed fresh yeast
salt , ½  teaspoon
sugar, 1 tablespoon
extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons added to the dough
oil for frying – enough so that the zeppole to float (I always use olive, some use vegetable oil)
salted anchovies to taste ( 5-10, chopped)
fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon
salt and pepper – sprinkled on top at the end.
PROCESSES
Mix 1 cup of flour with ½ -¾ cup of warm water, sugar and the yeast. Add more water if necessary to make a sloppy dough.
Cover it and leave to rise in a warm place for about 45- 90 mins – the dough should be spongy and double in size. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the anchovies and the fennel seeds. Mix well; the mixture should be soft and pliable. Add the anchovies and the fennel seeds and gently mix through.
Heat frying oil, drop into the oil one tablespoon full of dough (cook only a few per time – do not over crowd the pan). To see if the oil is hot enough, test it by dropping small bits of dough into it – the dough should begin to cook and begin to gently bounce around. Turn the zeppole once to fry on both sides – they should be golden brown when cooked.
Sprinkle with a little pepper and salt.

 

Zeppole di san Giuseppe:

 

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2 thoughts on “ZEPPOLE, FRIED SWEETS”

  1. You ricotta zeppole are my very favourite italian sweet, so soft ,smooth and light. My husband tony goes to your shop on a regular basis and is never allowed to return home without 1 or 2 after his visit. .
    Regards judy

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