In my life growing up, my Nonna would make Sfinci every year for the feast of St Joseph.
Sfinci is the Sicilian term for what a lot of other Italians call Zeppole. We have a lot of Joseph’s/Giuseppes in the family. My great grandfather was Giuseppe and on down the line, my Uncle Joe, My cousin Joe, My son Santino Giuseppe, and then of course my husbands Uncle Joe and so on back in the family line!
In Italy, EVERY feast is celebrated with a special food. This is one of my favorites. I guess it just reminds me of being a kid at Nonna’s house while she was making them!
So… Sfinci are always these little dough balls and zeppole are sometime just like this or another pastry that is piped in a circle and filled with cream. Either way this is about the “little fried balls” or “Sicilian donuts” as some people refer to them as. (but BOTH forms of this bite of sweetness are amazing!) . All over Italy you can have the same tradition for a food but each region, province or town will put their own spin on it.
So I make these every year on March 19th and sometimes I make them just to have a little sweet treat. Everyone loves them and they are SOOOOO easy to make!
Now if you put yourself out there you will find a million different ways to make them. Some recipes call for yeast and some use eggs as the leavening. Others use potatoes or ricotta in the dough and there is also a simple more modern way to get away with making them and that is with baking powder which of course is a quicker method of leavening.
Today, I am going to share with you the quickest and easiest way. It is often my goal to just get you cooking! You can master the “easy” or “quicker” way and then move on the the ones that might take a little more time or be a little more labor intensive (you know like an extra step or two!)
So I urge you to try this by …. say… this weekend!!! You won’t be sorry and your house will smell like a donut facory!
Before I get into this too deeply, my nonna just mixed stuff together. I learned to “eyeball” it too… so this is an approximation of measurements. I think you’ll get it though!!!
St Josephs Day Zeppole/ Sfinci
Ingredients (I never make less than 2 cups of flour)
Per each 1 cup of flour use a heaping teaspoon of baking powder.
Add one tsp of sugar
one pinch of salt
and then add just enough water or milk or combination of- to make it like a thick pancake batter that will fall off a spoon but not pour off of it. (i hope that makes sense!!! haha!)
Heat at least 3-4 inches of oil ( I usually use either sunflower or canola oil) in a sauce pot (unless you have a deep fryer you want to use.)
Once oil is hot enough (test by dropping a bit of dough into it and if it sizzles right away it’s ready… if it just barely bubbles let it get hotter. Once you get to that sizzle point turn the heat down a little)
Drop spoonfuls of dough into the oil. Watch them and turn them over when the bottom is brown (unless you have a fryer with something that will hold them under)
They should come out a beautiful golden color.
Place them on paper towels right away to drain and while still hot roll them in either powdered sugar or granulated sugar.
I usually have a bowl of each and alternate batches in the sugars! Gotta have both kinds at all times since these things disappear every time you turn around to work on the next batch! Might as well let them have both kinds!!!
I gave up a LONG TIME AGO trying to not let people eat them all while I was cooking them… the fact is… they taste best at that moment when ALL the senses are heightened! You are smelling the dough in the hot oil, feeling the warmth of the stove, getting the sugar all over your fingers as you eat them hot and then there is the feeling of warmth and love….
SO… why do we make these tidbits of hot sweet doughy perfection? Like my kids say…Out of Love of course!
In the future I will post some of the other recipes for these babies but until then… start cooking!