there are many stories and legends circulating about this cake so much beloved and so uniquely tasty. We are speaking about zeppole, typical of Saint Joseph’s day (March 19th), so popular all over Southern Italy, among Campania and Salento. Right here in Torre dell’Orso, in our confectionery, we have strived for years to reinterpret such historical tastes, thanks to selected ingredients and an attentive and conscientious, strictly artisanal preparation.
Despite all the circulating stories may sound so different from one another, they all trace back to the Christian tradition and the figure of Saint Joseph. During his trip to Naples, Goethe writes “Today was Saint Joseph’s day, saint patron of all fryers” -those who sold sweet fried dough- hinting at a legend depicting our Saint while dealing with frying, beside toiling at his furniture-making job.
Some even go so far as to hypothesize that the origin of the word “zeppola” is to be found in cippus, namely the zeppa, which, in Naples dialect, means the wooden tool the carpenter uses to carve away imperfections in the shape of furniture, patently alluding to Saint Joseph’s job.
That’s not over. Somebody traces the recipe back to the Roman period: during propitiatory celebrations, it was custom to indulge in wine and ambrosia, coupled with sweet-smelling “wheat pancakes”, cooked boiling lard. The ancestors of zeppole! With the Christian era, the feast of agriculture and wheat was moved away by two days, to March 19th, the day that the Church has dedicated to Saint Joseph starting in 1968.
The ingredients of zeppole
Simple, top quality high quality ingredients and our customary artisanal preparation make this cake stand out, for the short period of the year when we offer it, during the few weeks ending with father’s day on March 19th.
A shell of bigné dough made with flour, eggs, butter and sugar, without even a trace of preservatives, fried or baked, rigorously filled with yellow cream; the final touch is a sprinkle of chocolate cream -for the most tradition-abiding cake lovers- or three syrup-soaked wild cherries for those in love with the Naples recipe.
We have no hesitation to state it: they are a delighting delicacy for the palate, which is brought to the highest heights in the fried version, but does not lose its charm in the baked version, surely lighter.
Also this year, despite restrictions due to the Covid-19 emergency, we wait for you from 7 am on March 19th all day long, with the wish – which we all share in our hearts- that next year we can go back to savouring them in front of the seaside from our terrace.
Mirko Serino and Franz Panarese