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Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Al Forno (Baked Doughnuts)

35 MINPrep Time
40 MINCook Time
8 to 10 ZeppoleServings
by Giadzy
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Father’s Day is celebrated a bit differently in Italy than it is in the US – first and foremost, it’s celebrated on March 19th, which is the Festa di San Giuseppe: the celebration of Saint Joseph. Over time, the holiday became synonymous with Festa Del Papa, the Italian celebration of Father’s Day.

This holiday is celebrated with festivals, gift-giving, and one particular treat: fried pastries filled with pastry cream and topped with Amarena cherries, called Zeppole di San Giuseppe. This at-home version of the delicious dessert is baked (“al forno”) as opposed to fried, which not only makes it simpler to make, but it gives it a lighter and airier texture. The result is similar to a cream puff, but the zest of lemon and the Amarena cherry give it a uniquely Italian flavor.

Looking for a variation? Drizzle it with chocolate hazelnut spread, fold pistachio cream into the pastry cream and omit the lemon, or even add fresh berries inside.

Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Al Forno (Baked Doughnuts For Father’s Day)

Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Al Forno (Baked Doughnuts For Father’s Day)

Rated 5.0 stars by 1 users



Prep Time

35 minutes

Cook Time

40 minutes





Image of Zeppole Di San Giuseppe Al Forno (Baked Doughnuts For Father’s Day)


    For The Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, from one lemon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • For The Dough:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, plus one egg yolk
  • Amarena cherries, to garnish
  • Powdered sugar, to garnish


  1. For the pastry cream: In a small saucepan, bring the milk and lemon zest to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until smooth and thick. Slowly pour or ladle the milk mixture into the bowl and whisk until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium-low heat until smooth and thick, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Whisk in the vanilla, lemon juice and salt until smooth. Transfer the pastry cream to a clean bowl and lay a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to thicken and set.

  2. For the dough: Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Take pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Return pan to the heat and stir continuously until the mixture forms a ball, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the flour mixture to a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on low speed, add 4 eggs, 1 at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Add the egg yolk and beat until smooth.
  4. Fill a pastry bag with a star tip* with the dough, and pipe 6 doughnut-shaped rings onto the parchment paper, making sure they are evenly spaced apart. Don’t allow for too much empty space in the inside of the ring; you want the rings to close the gap in the middle as they bake. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until they appear puffed, golden brown and dry. Set aside to cool.
  5. With a serrated knife, cut the zeppole in half so there is a top and a bottom.
  6. The cooled pastry cream will be very thick; when you are ready to use it, whisk to smooth it out. Using a new pastry bag or a spoon, add about two tablespoons of pastry cream to the bottom half of the zeppole. Add the top of the zeppole back on top of the pastry cream, and repeat with the remaining zeppole.
  7. Dollop the remaining pastry cream evenly on top of the closed zeppole. Add one Amarena cherry to the top of each dollop. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
  8. *If you don’t have a pastry bag, simply make 1/3 cup sized dollops directly onto the parchment paper. Additionally, you can “glue” down the parchment paper by smudging a tiny bit of dough on the corners of the baking sheet first.



Nutrition Serving Size
per serving
Amount/Serving % Daily Value
42 grams
8 grams
21 grams
Saturated Fat
12 grams
234 milligrams
211 milligrams
1 grams
23 grams

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