DEEP. FRIED. CHOUX. PASTRY. Need I say anymore? Forget the crodough, Italians have been frying pastry-doughnuts since the 19th Century. These lemon scented doughnuts are rumored to originate from Puglia, although many Southern Italian regions make their own version. Zeppole are traditionally eaten on the 19th March to celebrate the festival of San Guiseppe (St Joseph). That date also means Father’s day in Italy – as if you need another excuse to eat these things.

I’ve never been lucky enough to be in Italy on the 19th of March, but I’ve heard that every Pasticceria window in Salento are full of Zeppoli . The Salentine version is topped with chocolate custard rather than the morello cherry, which other regions use.




250ml Water

70g Butter

150g Plain Flour

40g Sugar

1 Lemon (zest)

Pinch of salt

Vegetable or Sunflower oil for frying

Crema Pasticcera

30g Plain Flour

60g Caster dugar

3 Egg yolks

250ml Milk

1 Lemon (zest)

1tsp Vanilla

Chocolate Crema Pasticcera

25g Dark Chocolate (broken into small pieces in a bowl)


 Method – Makes 12 Zeppole

Make the crema pasticcera

  1. Put the flour, sugar and egg yolks into a bowl. Mix with a balloon whisk until it forms a sandy ball.
  2. Very slowly add the milk a little bit at a time and mix, making sure it doesn’t go lumpy. Add the zest of one lemon and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  3. Pour mixture into a saucepan and stir continuously on a low heat until it thickens and starts to boil. Turn of the heat.
  4. Pour 1 small ladle of the hot custard over the broken pieces chocolate and mix until it has melted. Set aside to cool.

Make the dough

  1. Put the water and butter in a medium sized saucepan. Melt on a low heat, making sure not to boil.
  2. Add all of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball. Cook on the heat to dry the mixture out a little. Set aside to cool.
  3. Once cooled put the mixture into a mixing bowl (I use my freestanding kenwood) Add the eggs one at a time until combined. Put the mixture into a piping bag with a medium sized star nozzle.

Before eggs are added


After eggs have been added


  1. Prepare for frying the dough by cutting out 12 squares of greaseproof paper 8 cm x 8 cm in size. Place them on a greased tray so they stay in place.
  2. Pipe a circle (5cm x 5cm) of the dough onto each of the squares of paper. Make the circle overlay slightly. (see picture)
  3. Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a medium sized saucepan until it reaches 180C
  4. Pick up one of the Zeppole up by the corner of the paper and carefully place it into the pan. Fry for about 3 minutes until puffed up and golden in colour.
  5. Drain on a plate with kitchen towel and allow to cool.
  6. Pipe the lemon custard in the middle of the doughnut then finish with a little spot of the chocolate custard.



**TIP: Once the Zeppole have puffed up you can turn the heat down to let them slowly go golden. This will help them cook on the inside. You could have two pans of oil on the go, one very hot and one slightly cooler. Once they have puffed up transfer them to the cooler oil to finish cooking**


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