Italian Deep-Fried Cream Puffs for St. Joseph’s Day

Bignè San Giuseppe

The St. Joseph’s Day Cream Puffs, called bignè in Italian, are one of those typical sweets you cannot miss in Rome and the surrounding areas: they are prepared only in the period before March 19 and are very similar to the Neapolitan “zeppole”, also prepared during this period. The difference between zeppole and cream puffs may be of little importance but in reality, makes the two desserts different: the zeppole are “open” and also contain a cherry on top, the cream puffs are round and the cream inside does not contains anything else.

An institution like many other products of Roman cuisine, real puffs are fried and filled with custard, possibly with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

The recipe is simple even if it requires a little patience; the classic recipe of cream puffs involves frying but the same can also be cooked in the oven following this recipe.

Just because they are fried, these cream puffs are kept as freshly made for about 24 hours then start to lose consistency and flavor. However, they must be kept in the fridge and consumed no later than 48 hours.

This is my classic recipe, traditional and super tested to prepare some excellent St. Joseph’s Day Italian Cream Puffs at home; if you are in Rome around the 19th of March, you won’t find hard to eat them in every pastry shop in the city.

Ingredients for 6 portions

  • 150 grams of plain flour
  • 80 grams of unsalted butter
  • 200 grams of water
  • 4 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 60 grams of sugar

Method

  • Boil water, butter and salt in a non-stick saucepan and then, once it has boiled, turn off the heat and pour the flour into it; turn the flame back on, bringing it to a medium heat, put the pot back on the stove and cook until the dough starts to peel off the edges. Keep on the stove over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes more.
  • Add the eggs and sugar after removing the pot from the heat and allowing it to cool for a few minutes then stir to remove the bubbles that form; remove the dough from the pot, pour it into an aluminum bowl and let it rest for about 30 minutes covered with a cotton cloth.
  • Using two tablespoons make balls of dough to fry in plenty of seed oil and to touch as little as possible the balls of dough because these, in contact with oil, will start to swell and live their own life so if touched they could deflate instantly : allow each ball to brown on both sides and then drain on a piece of absorbent paper.
  • Once cooled, fill the puffs with some custard, sprinkle with plenty of icing sugar or leave to natural and serve.

Preparation time:1 hour

bignè san giuseppe

[Pics by Giuseppe]