Zeppole for St. Joseph’s Day

Zeppole di San Giuseppe are pastry cream-filled cream puffs eaten March 19th for St. Joseph’s Day. Originally from Italy, zeppole have found their way to Rhode Island where their spring arrival is much anticipated in bakeries across the state. I adapted Rhody Beat’s recipe.

A cream puff topped with pastry cream and a maraschino cherry dusted with powdered sugar on a white plate.

Zeppole di San Giuseppe

3.37 from 11 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Cooling time 3 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian, Italian-American
Servings 8
Calories 398 kcal


  • oven
  • hand mixer
  • piping bag with a 1M tip (optional)


Custard Cream

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 C. whole milk
  • 1 lemon peel 1/2" x 2" slice
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch
  • a pinch Kosher salt 

Pastry Dough

  • 1 C. water
  • 1/2 C. butter, salted cut into 1" pats
  • 1 C. all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • a pinch Kosher salt 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 8 maraschino cherries
  • powdered sugar


Custard Cream

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow in color. Add flour and corn starch whisk to combine.
  • In a medium saucepan add milk and lemon peel and heat on medium until it just about boils. Turn off heat.
  • Ladle the hot milk into the egg mixture a ladle at a time, whisking well with each addition.
  • When all the of the milk is combined, return the egg/milk mixture to the saucepan. Whisk continuously on medium heat until the mixture is thicken and reaches 180°F/82°C.
  • Remove from heat and pour the custard onto a baking tray to cool. Press a layer of plastic wrap over the surface of the cream. Cool to room temperature before chilling in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours.

Pastry Dough

  • Preheat oven to 400°F/190°C or 375°F for a convection oven.
  • In a medium saucepan add water and butter. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and pour in the flour. Mix to form a dough. Return to medium heat and stir continuously for 3 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the pan and form a ball of dough.
  • Transfer the dough to a large bowl. Use a hand mixer on low, to mix the dough for 2 minutes to speed up cooling. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Finish with a quick mix on high speed.
  • Use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a disc of dough 3"-4" across, followed by an additional circle of dough on top to create a space for the custard, or simple mound the dough with a spoon. Make 8-10 mounds.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes. Do not open the oven before 25 minutes or the cream puffs will collapse. After 25 minutes take a toothpick and pierce a hole to allow excess steam to escape and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove the cream puffs from the oven and cool completely before filling.
  • Use a paring knife and cut the pastries in half. Pipe or spoon a ring of cooled pastry cream inside, cover with the top half. Add a dollop of pastry cream on top and a maraschino cherry. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.


  • In my opinion, zeppole are best eaten soon after assembly, so if you’re planning on serving them at a later time, keep the pastry cream and cream puffs separate and assemble right before serving. 


Calories: 398kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 9gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 193mgSodium: 168mgPotassium: 160mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 684IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 102mgIron: 2mg
Keyword cream puff, custard cream, San Guiseppe, St. Joseph’s Day, zeppole
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