On a recent trip to the Bronx to investigate winter damage to fig trees, I had fun learning to make a Calabrian version of Zeppole with Caterina Borromeo. Caterina is from the town of Palermiti, province of Catanzaro and came to the US in 1958.
Zeppole are a fried dough pastry with regional variations that range from sweet and cake-like to savory and bready. They are a staple of Italian American street fairs and feast days, so since I was visiting the Little Italy section of the Bronx during the yearly St. Anthony festival, a zeppole lesson seemed appropriate. Maria’s recipe consists of four basic bread ingredients, flour, water, yeast and salt. Zeppole also known as crispelle in southern Italy where they are often served on New Year’s Eve sprinkled with powdered sugar or drizzled with honey. A savory version is made stuffed with anchovies.
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1 pkg dry yeast
Enough vegetable oil for 2 inches in frying pan
Dissolve yeast in warm water until yeast begins to foam. Add flour and salt, mixing to form a sticky, almost runny dough. Allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Heat oil in deep frying pan. Scoop up small amount of dough with your hand and drop into hot oil. Fry until lightly golden brown, turning once. Serve warm sprinkled with powdered sugar or drizzled with honey.
Grazie, Caterina, for sharing your tradition with us!