One of our followers recently asked if I would create a gluten-free version of ‘Zeppole Fritte’ (or fried dough), those that you would typically find at an Italian festival or carnival.
A little history on Zeppole…..
Zeppole are known by other names and prepared in slightly different ways in the various regions of southern Italy. The ‘Zeppola di San Giuseppe’ is a typical dessert of the Campania pastry tradition and landed for the first time on paper in 1837 by a famous Neapolitan gastronomist Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duca di Buonvicino.
There are several different hypothesis or versions of where the classic ‘Zeppole of San Giuseppe’ originated. But since I’m from Naples, I’ll go with the Neapolitan hypothesis where the classic zeppola of Saint Joseph, as we know it, was born as a street food. Tradition has it that the Neapolitan friars used to display their culinary art by frying the zeppole on the street, in front of their shop, and consumed during the 'Festa di San Giuseppe' (St. Joesph’s Day) celebrated every March 19th, the end of winter and beginning of spring. Since the middle ages (or medieval period), March 19th was decreed Father’s Day.
Originally, they were baked and not deep-fried because too much oil was used and it was not cost-effective. Some believed that in the 16th century, the convent of Santa Patrizia in Naples was the first to make baked zeppole. But many believe that zeppole were made popular by Pasquale Pintauro, a 19th century baker in Naples who set up his cart on the street every March 19th to sell to celebrating pedestrians. There must be something to the name Pasquale or Pasqualina…..😃
My mamma has always made ‘zeppole’ during the Christmas holiday - a family tradition that has been around for many years and a favorite holiday sweet! The traditional name for zeppole is actually ‘scauratielli,’ composed of water, oil and flour in the shape of a knot and garnished with sugar.
Today, I present you the gluten-free version based on my mamma’s traditional recipe, which she learned from her manna and my nonna, Pasqualina.
I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Pasqualina’s Gluten-Free Zeppole, A Nonna Gianna Specialty!
Yields: about 16 zeppole
Prep Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 20 min
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon yeast
2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour, sifted
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
Organic sunflower, canola, or vegetable oil for frying
In a bowl add water, olive oil, honey and yeast. Mix well and set aside, covered with a kitchen cloth, for about 5 minutes, until it foams and looks creamy.
In a mixing bowl, add flour, salt and mix well. Add eggs and yeast mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 1 hour.
Prepare a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
Using a deep sauce pan, add frying oil to a depth of 3 inches. Use a frying thermometer to reach a temperature of 370 degrees F.
Use two tablespoons - one to scoop out the dough and the other spoon to push the dough off - and gently drop it into the hot oil being careful not to burn yourself. You can also use a 1.5 tablespoon scoop. Fry about 4 to 5 zeppole at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Do not crowd the zeppole in the pan. Cook until golden brown and puffy, turning the zeppole with either a fork or a small spider strainer to fry evenly on all sides.
Using a spider strainer, remove zeppole from oil and transfer to the prepared baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Once all zeppole are fried and drained, generously sprinkle them with powdered sugar or you can place the hot zeppole in a brown paper bag, add powdered sugar and shake. Serve hot!
Deep Fryer/Candy thermometer - https://amzn.to/2UuRJdA
Spider strainer - https://amzn.to/3kug1iw
Multi use scooper - 1.5 tablespoons - https://amzn.to/3xMwkLn