Southern Italians would know this festive snack well. These small deep fried balls of dough are generally cooked and eaten at Easter and Christmas.
Some Southern Italian regions swear by the sweet Zeppole; sprinkling sugar or filling them with custard creams similar to cannoli.
However, my mum’s family served these as savoury treats often filled with anchovy fillets on Good Friday and Christmas Eve.
My grandmother would rise early in the morning and would fill the house with the aroma of fried dough; waking my mum, aunties and uncles who would jump out of bed and bicker amongst themselves to see who would be bestowed the honour of eating the first Zeppole of that festive day.
These crunchy but light and fluffy balls of fried dough are delicious but be warned they aren’t the most healthiest of snacks, so I tend to limit myself to 2-3 Zeppole per year!
I like to think of the Zeppole as part of Italy’s offering to the Street Food culture.
Zeppole - part of Italy's offering to the Street Food culture.
Ingredients 2kg White Flour
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Cup Olive Oil
40g Fresh Yeast
300g Anchovies (optional)
3L Warm Water
In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, yeast and olive oil.
Slowly add water (a cup at a time) to form a light dough. This is a similar process when making pizza or bread dough.
Combine flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and water to form a light dough.
Knead the dough for about 20-30 minutes. Cover the bowl with a thick blanket and allow the dough to rise for approximately 60-minutes.
After kneading the dough allow an hour for the dough to rise.
Heat oil to a high temperature in a deep fryer or wok.
Carefully dollop small balls of dough into the hot oil and cook for a couple of minutes until golden all over. As an option, drop anchovy fillets into the dough and scoop with the dough and into the hot oil.
Drop small balls of dough into hot oil and fry for a couple of minutes until golden.
For a savoury Zeppole add anchovy fillets.
Serve hot or cold; plain or filled with anchovies for a savoury snack or sprinkle sugar or drizzle some caramel or chocolate sauce over the tops of the zeppole for a sweet snack.
Crunchy, light and fluffy Zeppole can be eaten hot or cold.
Notes When packaged into colourful cellophane bags, Zeppole make great little presents to family and friends. They're also a good little picnic snack.
Zeppole are a Southern Italian festive snack eaten at Easter and Christmas.