A pastry fit for a saint!

A tasty zeppola from Pastryland, Smithfield.


These baked St. Joseph's Day fritters—also known as St. Joseph's Cream Puffs—are an old tradition from Naples in southern Italy. The baked kind, which are filled with ricotta cream, custard cream, or whipped cream, are more popular, hold up better, and are lower in fat [than the deep-fried kind]. The same sweet is made by Sicilians, but they dip them in honey and call them sfince.

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon of grated orange rind
  • Ricotta cream filling (recipe follows) or custard cream or whipped cream
  • 18 maraschino cherries
  • ½ cup of glazed orange peel slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large saucepan, combine the water and butter, and bring to a boil. Add the salt and flour, stirring constantly until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan to form a ball in the center. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating them in completely. Add the sugar, lemon rind, and orange rind. Mix well.

Drop by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet, placing the puffs three inches apart, or use muffin cups. Bake for ten minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for thirty minutes or until light brown. Remove the puffs from the oven. Open the puffs immediately to allow steam to escape. Cool.

Fill the puffs with Ricotta cream, custard cream, or whipped cream. Top with a cherry and two thin slices of glazed orange peel.

Ricotta Cream Filling

  • 1 pound of ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of grated chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of grated orange rind
  • Sugar, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons of almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons of milk

In a bowl combine all ingredients, adding only enough of the milk to make a smooth custardlike mixture. Refrigerate until needed. Any leftover filling will keep in the refrigerator for two or three days, or it can be used as a filling when making crepes, pancakes, or French toast.

Makes eighteen cream puffs.

—From The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook (2006) by freelance food writer and restaurant publicist Linda Beaulieu. Used with permission.

This article last edited February 29, 2008

© 1999–2021 Quahog.org (with the exception of elements provided by contributors, as noted).