|Alternative names||St. Joseph's Day cake, sfinge, Bignè di San Giuseppe|
|Place of origin||Italy|
|Main ingredients||Dough, powdered sugar|
A Zeppola (plural: zeppole; in southern Italian dialects: zeppoli, in north eastern dialects: fritulle) is an Italian pastry consisting of a deep-fried dough ball of varying size but typically about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. This doughnut or fritter is usually topped with powdered sugar, and may be filled with custard, jelly, cannoli-style pastry cream or a butter-and-honey mixture. The consistency ranges from light and puffy, to bread- or pasta-like.
Zeppole are typical of Italian cuisine, especially that of Rome and Naples. They are also served in Sicily, Sardinia, on the island of Malta, and in Italian-American communities in the United States. Zeppole are known by other names, including Bignè di San Giuseppe (in Rome), St. Joseph's Day cake, and sfinge. Zeppole are traditionally consumed during the Festa di San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph's Day) celebrated every March 19, when zeppole are sold on many streets and sometimes presented as gifts.
Some zeppole are filled with ricotta mixed with small pieces of chocolate, candied fruits and honey. In some parts of the U.S., they are called crispellis.
Zeppole can also be savory, and consist of fried bread dough often filled with anchovy. In parts of Calabria, the anchovy or a sultana variety are consumed on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. In Malta, anchovy zeppoli are traditionally consumed during the Lent fasting period. This version of savoury zeppole are known locally as Sfinge. The sweet version is also available in many confectioneries. Zeppoli that are made with too much water or too little leavening are called led zeppoli.
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