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Cream Puffs (Zeppole di San Giuseppe)

Cream puffs. Sweet, fluffy cream puffs filled with classic custard cream. Or chocolate cream, chantilly cream, pistachio cream... even gorgonzola cream.

Yes, I too have always thought that cream puffs were impossible to make at home. Who knows what it takes! But when you meet Maria Lucrezia, you discover that even the cream puffs can be made by hand, and they are SO delicious.

Maria-Lucrezia filles them with custard cream and Amarena cherries in the tradition of her home region of Apulia. This recipe is traditionally called "Zeppole di San Giuseppe" and is prepared at home for Father's Day.

This is her recipe of the choux pastry, while the cream is from her grandmother. That said, there are no more doubts about what to do this weekend.



PREPARATION: 90 min. / SERVING SIZE: 8 people

Choux pastry

  • 250 ml water

  • 150 g '00' flour

  • 100 g butter

  • 1/2 level teaspoon of salt

  • 5 medium eggs (also 4 if they are large)

Custard cream:

  • 1/2 l of milk

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 generous spoons of flour (about 50 g)

  • 2 spoons of sugar

  • Lemon peel



Start with the cream puffs.

Bring water, salt and butter to the boil in a small saucepan.

Once the butter has melted, as soon as it starts to boil, add the flour in one go, lower the heat to moderate and stir immediately with a wooden spoon for a few minutes.

As soon as you get a dense, soft and compact dough, tip it on a work surface and roll it out with a spatula or a spoon.

Let it cool well and then add the eggs one at a time, stir with the ladle and let them absorb well before adding the next one. It is very important to wait until the dough is very cold otherwise the eggs will cook immediately.

You want to obtain a thick paste like a custard rather firm, shiny and compact. Fill a pastry bag with a large, smooth or star-shaped nozzle.

Brush a baking tray with butter and stick baking paper on it so that it does not move. Press on the pastry bag and turn the wrist to form concentric circles. The diameter of each puff should be about 3, 5 to 4 cm and they should be placed 3 cm apart.

After filling a baking tin, with the back of a spoon lightly moistened with water, flatten the tips a little, so that your cream puffs take on a round shape and not a conical one!

Continue with the custard cream.

Pour half a litre of milk into a saucepan and put it on the heat.

In another pot, break the eggs and beat them with a whisk. Then add the sugar and lemon peel and continue to mix, then add the flour and mix well.

When the milk is boiling hot, turn off the heat and pour the milk into the pot, continuing to mix with the whisk. When the mixture is well blended, put the pan back on the heat and, stirring constantly, bring to the boil until the cream becomes thick and sticks to the spoon. Turn off the heat.

Do not linger on the heat too long once the cream is thick, otherwise it will taste too much like egg.

Pour the cream into a large, shallow container, cover its surface in contact with cling film and leave to cool, then refrigerate until cold and thick.

Fill a pastry bag with a smaller nozzle than the previous one and have it ready to fill the puffs.



Preheat the oven to 200° in static mode and place the puffs in the middle of the oven. Bake at 200° without opening the oven for about 25 minutes. When they are nice and puffy you can lower the temperature to 180° and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

To fill: let them cool down, with a pointed knife make a small hole in the bottom and fill with your sac a poche filled with custard. Sprinkle with icing sugar or garnish with cream and an Amarena cherry.



1. If you are not using the mixture straight away, you can store it directly in the whipped pastry bag that you will use to make your cream puffs. Wrap the pastry bag in a towel and store it in the fridge in the cooler part (the top part) where the mixture can stay for up to 1 day. Leave it at room temperature for half an hour before using it.

2. Once baked, you can store the empty puffs in a tin for up to 5-6 days. You can also freeze them and fill them later.

3. Be careful to add only the yellow part of the lemon peel to the custard cream, otherwise the cream takes on a bitter taste.

4. When the custard cools, it forms a crust on the surface. Instead of using contact foil to avoid this from happening (it's still plastic!), you can stir the cream with an immersion blender and the crust disappears :)

Buon appetito! Benedetta


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