This traditional Italian pastry is made on March 19 in honor of the Italian Feast of San Guiseppe, when translated is the Feast of St. Joseph who is the patron saint of ‘the family’.
St. Joseph’s Day Pastry
There are so many different traditions throughout the many regions in Italy in honor of St. Joseph. Since my family ancestry is Sicilian I’m sharing their legend.
Legend has it that in the Middle Ages the Sicilians prayed to St. Joseph for rain during a drought. It is said that they promised if their prayers were answered they would prepare a feast to honor him – hence the Feast of St. Joseph or in Italian the Feast of San Guiseppe.
Growing up I remember my dad would always bring home St. Joseph’s Day pastry. Way back then pastry was not on my radar, but I do remember how everyone (that would be all the adults) enjoyed the pastries for that one week.
Today you can usually find the St. Joseph pastry throughout the year in many Italian pastry shops. The pastries are sometimes labeled ‘zeppole’ or ‘sfingi’.
So in honor of St. Joseph’s Day and my dad, whose name was Joseph and loved this pastry, I tried my hand at making the pastry.
When I googled for a recipe I was surprised to learn that the pastry is a pate choux, or a cream puff pastry which I make all the time.
The traditional filling for St. Joseph’s Day pastry is a pastry cream. My family is a bit picky and would prefer a cannoli cream filling. So an easy to make cannoli filling is what I used.
I added the pastry cream ingredients to the recipe attached for those who prefer pastry cream. It’s really only a matter of personal preference. I’m sure there are many who enjoy pastry cream – it’s nice to have a choice.
The next challenge was to perfect using a pastry bag. I was determined to make this pastry look as traditional as possible. After 2 or 3 tries it was a breeze, anyone can tackle the pastry bag challenge with a little help from good ol’ Martha.
St. Joseph's Day Pastry
St. Joseph's Day Pastry, sometimes called Zeppole, or Sfingi. It's simply a basic puff pastry or pate choux recipe. This recipe is from www.foodnetwork.com which I've been making for years. The pastry cream recipe is from marthastewart.com
- 1 cup water
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 cup AP flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar (divided into 1/4 cup ea.)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 TBLS. butter cut into cubes
Pastry Cream Filling
For me cooking and baking is memory making. Often when I remake a recipe from my childhood it sparks a vivid memory.
When I was making this recipe it brought me home to my childhood. My dad always brought home St. Joseph’s pastry in March. I could hear my dad’s voice when he came home with the pastry saying “I got the St. Joseph’s, fresh from the oven!”