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Sicilian Zeppole, recipe for a traditional treat

Sicilian zeppole are completely different from Italian zeppole. Both are common pastries usually prepared for St. Joseph’s day that in Italy corresponds to the Father’s Day. Sicilian zeppole are fried rice-based treats, while Italian zeppole, prepared especially in Naples, are usually fried donuts filled with pastry cream or ricotta.

Sicilian zeppole or St. Joseph zeppole

The origins of the Sicilian zeppole comes from the Benedictine monastery of Catania, when in XVI century nuns were used to prepare these rice-based desserts for St. Joseph’s Day, that is the reason why they are also known as St. Joseph zeppole since according to the tradition, St. Joseph was a carpenter but he also used to sell pancakes as a side business to support his family. To prepare Sicilian zeppole with rice, the rice has to be cooked with milk and then the dough is flavored with orange and/or lemon zast. There are also other variants of Sicilian zeppole made without rice but with very simple ingredients: the fluffy Sicilian sfingi.

Today we want to propose you both of these 2 traditional recipes, the Sicilian zeppole recipe and the Sicilian sfingi recipe, delicious and very easy to prepare.

Sicilian zeppole
Rice Sicilian zeppole

Sicilian zeppole recipe

Ingredients for Sicilian zeppole recipe:

  • rice 300 g
  • plain flour 00 250 g
  • milk 250 ml
  • water A/R         
  • cinnamon powder A/R
  • orange zest 2
  • brewer’s yeast 20 g
  • sugar A/R
  • seed oil A/R

Firstly boil the rice in salt water and when it is cooked drain and wash off the starch. Then add the rice in a pan with the milk and boil while continuing to stir until the rice have completely absorbed the milk (it will take few minutes). Put the rice in a dish to cool-off and then add the yeast melted in tepid water, the cinnamon, the grated orange zest and stir by hand. At this point to complete your Sicilian zeppole recipe start adding little by little the plain flour and the water until you obtain a smooth dough. Let it rise for two hours. Then heat the oil in a pan and put the dough on a cutter board with a thickness of about 1 cm. Cut the dough in sticks large about 2 cm and roll them down in the hot oil. When the sticks are golden brown drain the extra oil and roll them in the sugar and/or add some citrus honey.

Your Sicilian zeppole are ready!

sicilian zeppole or st. joseph zeppole
Rice Sicilian zeppole. Credits: Sonia Peronaci

Sicilian sfingi recipe

Sicilian sfingi or crispelle are another fried delicacy prepared in Sicily, especially in Messina, for many occasions such as Carnival and St. Joseph Day. They are made with very simple ingredients and are often enriched with chocolate chips, ricotta and raisins and often wih anchovies for a salty variant.

Ingredients for Sicilian sfigi recipe:

  • water 400 g
  • brewer’s yest 25 g
  • plain Flour 500 g
  • salt A/R
  • sugar A/R
  • chocolate chips or raisins
  • seed oil A/R

To prepare the Sicilian sfingi melt the yeast in tepid water and add it to the flour with the chocolate chips and/or raisins, salt, half a tablespoon of sugar and mix by hand. You should obtain a liquid dough. Let it rise for two hours. Then heat the oil in a high-side pan and little by little take the dough with a table spoon and immerse it in the oil. When they will be golden brown, drain the extra oil and roll them in the sugar. Your delicious Sicilian sfingi are ready!

Sicilian sfingi
Sicilian sfingi Credits: Giallo Zafferano

Sicilian zeppole and Sicilian sfingi are very easy to prepare and very quick to eat! If you want to know more about our habits and culinary traditions don’t forget to have a look at our related blog posts on the large topic of the traditional Sicilian food!

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