St. Joseph's Day Pastry Step by Step

Friday, March 5, 2021
St. Joseph's Day is celebrated on March 19th by making Baked Filled Pastries and Zeppole.

Those are just some of the special fritters, fried doughs, or donuts, made in expectations to celebrate The Feast of St. Joseph.

Here are just a few recipes to carry on this Neapolitan tradition in this recipe post today.

While relatively unknown to the non-Italian U.S. population, one city that widely celebrates this feast day is New Orleans.

Louisiana used to be a popular arrival port for Sicilians and at one point, the now French Quarters were known as “Little Palermo.” Celebrations occur, even to this day, with traditional foods and festivities.

Mom would remind us that we need to wear red that day for St. Joseph, the patron saint of Sicily and we all did as they still do in the parades.

Several recipes vary by years past and present and carry many names throughout the Regions of Italy and America.

Here are a few we have made and loved through the years in our Italian family to celebrate St. Joseph's Day.

Just scroll down to the recipe card to print off all versions from the Regions of Italy and America for these recipes.

Lots of History

San Guiseppe is the day for zeppole. The pastry shops and (fried food stands) make so many in a day it's an astonishing quantity. Eating Zeppole on the 19th is another of those traditions in Italy that must be observed.

This is a cast iron pan frying donuts for St. Joseph's Day celebrations at feasts outdoors on a grill

Making the Cream Puff Pastry

The photo above is the "Cafe Cream Style" St. Joseph's Day Pastry, which you will find in many Italian-American Bakeries.

The dough is made on top of the stove in a pan with flour, butter, and eggs.

See the recipe below in the recipe card.

this is cream puff dough homemade in a pan

Shaping the Dough

I use a freezer bag with a large star metal pastry tip to add the swirls to the dough.

That is a great tip and time saver for making each puff the same size also.

this is cream puff dough in a freezer bag using an extra large star tip

Making the Swirl

After putting the star tip into the freezer bag, cut just a small piece at the star tip to release the dough.

Simply press down in a circular motion and build more or less a pyramid circle until you have at least three layers of dough,

I do that straight onto a Silpat mat.

Now they are ready for the oven.

Cafe cream (see recipes below in the recipe card) is next to make while these are baking.

Ingredients to Make the Cream Filling

  • egg yolks
  • granulated sugar
  • unbleached all-purpose flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • whole milk
  • almond extract
  • ricotta cheese 
  • whole milk
  • powdered sugar

this is the homemade pastry cream to fill the St. Joseph's Day pastries

Tools and Tips

  1. saucepan to make the cream and one for the dough
  2. pastry bag
  3. large star tip
  4. knife
  5. baking sheet pan
  6. measuring cup
  7. measuring spoon
  8. bowl
  9. spatula
  10. you can make these and store them in a sealed container unfilled for 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees when ready to fill the next day and crisp them up as these will soften when stored overnight. Bake for at least 3 minutes or until they get crispy again. Cool and fill.


Everyone makes them different, that's why I will give you several versions of the recipe.

Some Regions celebrate with fried dough or zeppole with sugar, powdered sugar or even added cinnamon sugar.

It depends on where and who came up with a new version.

All of them are a wonderful delight no matter which Region makes them and we continue to enjoy all the different kinds.

Other Fillings

below you will find several recipes for fillings from different Regions in Italy
  1. whipped cream
  2. ricotta-filled
  3. almond or vanilla pastry cream
  4. chocolate pastry filling
  5. fresh or dried fruit whipped cream filled
  6. lemon filling(as time went on, bakeries expanded filling flavors

St. Joseph Pastry Has Several Names

  • zeppole
  • frittelle
  • cassatedde
  • sfinci
  • bigne
  • St. Joseph's Day Pastries

In America, as in Italy, the highlight is ending with a delightful Italian pastry dessert.

Although the names and shapes of these baked, fried or hot delicate fritters, can differ from Region to Region, they are as much associated with St. Joseph's Day as the turkey is to Thanksgiving.

St. Joseph's Day Pastry Pin for later

this is a pin for later St. Joseph's Day pastry recipe

Our Fried Dough

We make fried pizza dough also referred to as "Zeppole", very often here in America.

You will find at many Italian feasts, fried dough is all homemade pizza dough shaken in sugar.

The pastries were well known that on March 19th they were made by the ton in a pastry shop in a frying stall, as well as at home.

Guests and whoever else happened to come by were given a pastry if you were really lucky to celebrate that day and were named Giuseppe (Joseph).

St. Joseph's Day Pastry Step By Step

St. Joseph's Day Pastry Step By Step

Yield: 18
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Prep time: 25 MinCook time: 33 MinTotal time: 58 Min
These recipes for the Feast of St. Joseph fall on March 19th and are celebrated with a delicious variety of Italian pastries.


  • Mom's Version (Bari Style) Creamy
  • Cream Puff Dough
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel, or 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel ( I leave this out)
  • Beat eggs in a bowl and set aside. 
  • Measure 1 cup flour and set aside.
  • In a heavy nonstick saucepan, pour 1 cup water and a stick of butter (not margarine) add zests if using and bring to a boil on medium heat, leave on heat, and add flour stirring quickly with a wooden spoon until the flour is dissolved and comes together.
  • Remove from heat, add eggs, and beat very rapidly with the wooden spoon until a ball of dough is formed...
  • Note it's very important to beat this fast.
  • Spoon one tablespoon of dough or teaspoon for small puffs (or use a pastry bag with a large star tip) on an ungreased cookie sheet. Shape into logs for eclairs or round for cream puffs.
  • (As shown in the photo, I used an extra-large cookie press star-shaped tip to make the swirled puffs after baking filled with the cafe cream recipe below).
  • Bake on 400 for 1/2 hour, do not open the oven, or the puffs will not cook correctly.
  • When browned remove from oven, cool, and cut in half to fill.
  • You can fill it with puffs of whipped cream, Italian pastry creme, and vanilla pudding. Eclairs also will have chocolate frosting on top filled with vanilla pudding
  • Remove to a rack and cool completely. Cut a slit in the side of each puff and fill with the below filling or sweetened whipped cream:
  • Filling Recipes Below
  • Note: 
  • you can make these and store them in a sealed container unfilled for 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees when ready to fill the next day and crisp them up (as these will soften when stored overnight). Bake for at least 3 minutes or until they get crispy again. Cool and fill.


  1. Ricotta Filling Bari Style (for cream puff dough):
  2. 3 cups Ricotta cheese
  3. 1/4 cups sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  6. 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
  7. 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
  8. Combine all ingredients except chips and beat with an electric mixer for about 10 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  9. Cafe Cream Filling Most Bakery Styles  ( this is what is used in the photos) 
  10. 4 large egg yolks
  11. 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup granulated sugar)
  12. 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  13. pinch of sea salt
  14. 2 cups whole milk
  15. 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, vanilla ( you can even use lemon and separate the filling into two bowls and have two kinds of flavors)
  16. 2/3 cup Ricotta cheese whole milk
  17. 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  18. In a small heavyweight saucepan, beat the yolks, sugar, salt, and flour all at once until all lumps are gone. Slowly add milk and whisk to make a smooth consistency. Heat slowly over medium heat till this mixture thickens stirring constantly.
  19. At the very start, whisk slowly and then a little quicker as the cream starts feeling thicker. Wait for a simmering boil to appear.
  20. At this point lower the heat to very low as you finish getting the perfect creamy consistency. As the whisk leaves a trail as it stirs, this is the indication that the cream is ready.
  21. When the pudding has thickened remove it from the stove and cover it with wax paper not to form a skin.
  22. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.
  23. The ricotta is added to the filling in the pudding after it has chilled.
  24. In a bowl add ricotta, powdered sugar, and almond flavoring, stir till completely mixed. Fold in the pudding.
  25. Fill cream puffs.
  26. Keep refrigerated.
  27. These also look nice with a mixture of powdered sugar and water glaze with a cherry on top.
  28. Ricotta Fried Fritter Puffs (also referred to as fried Zeppole)
  29. This is the fritter style also if would like the Fried Pizza Dough Version click here
  30. 1 cup ricotta cheese
  31. 2 large eggs
  32. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  33. 1 heaping tablespoon of powdered sugar,
  34. 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  35. 1 pinch salt
  36. Vegetable oil, for frying
  37. Garnish Options:
  38. Drizzle with honey
  39. Sprinkle with sugar
  40. Dust with powdered sugar
  41. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta and eggs, and whisk until smooth.
  42. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; whisk to make a smooth batter.
  43. Fill a wide and shallow skillet pan with about 3/4- inch of oil.
  44. Heat over medium-high heat until a bit of test batter sizzles when dropped in.
  45. Cook in batches, dropping 5 or 6 rounded teaspoons of batter into the pan at a time.
  46. When the batter puffs up and the undersides turn golden brown, after about 1 minute,
  47. flip and fry for 1 more minute, or until golden brown.
  48. Transfer the ricotta balls to a plate with some paper towels just to remove the excess oil, and continue cooking the rest of the batter until all is used.
  49. On a serving plate, pile the ricotta balls in a rough pyramid. 
  50. Sprinkle or shake in a brown paper bag the fritters with powdered sugar, regular white sugar, or drizzle with honey.
Italian ricotta desserts, pastry cream recipes, St joseph's Day, pastry, Holiday March 19th, Italian pastry, zeppole, step by step St. Joseph's Day pastry, filled cream puffs
zeppole, fritters, filled Italian pastry, pastry cream recipes, fritter recipes, fried dough recipes, cream puff recipes, Italian pastry recipes
American, Italian, French
Created using The Recipes Generator

Try Our Favorite Fried Dough (Pizza Fritta)

St. Joseph's Day Pastry Pin for later