As with most Saint Day’s in Italy, there is a special sweet treat that my family eats to commemorate the first day of spring. On the first day of spring throughout all of Southern Italy, my family heads to the local Italian bakery to purchase the traditional Zeppole of Saint Giuseppe. Zeppole are donut like in texture and appearance and commemorate the first day of spring, my family and I indulge in these little donuts with pastry cream topped with Amarena sour cherries.
The tradition of eating Zeppole for San Giuseppe is quite ancient. Traditional Zeppole were originally made from fried flour-and-water dough dusted with sugar and powdered cinnamon or dipped in honey. The current, refined version of Zeppole with sweet vanilla custard came much later, perhaps towards the end of the 19th century. It is believed that it was invented in Southern Italy.
Today even though Zeppole are different, people still carry on the tradition of eating them for the Feast of San Giuseppe in late March. The unanswered question remains do you like them plain, the traditional way, or stuffed with a piece of candied cherry on top?
So instead of looking forward to Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, or marshmallow eggs, why not raise the bar a little this Easter and thrill your palate with these heavenly balls of dough.
Move over cannoli, take a seat panettone, see ya later tiramisu – Spring is here and so is the Zeppole!