Growing up in Mt. Vernon, NY, Our Lady of Victory Church had an Italian festival every summer (we just called it the feast). I always looked forward to this; they blocked off a whole city block and had all of the typical festival games and food. My favorite part was the Zeppole, fluffy fried balls of dough. They would put them in a paper bag, add powdered sugar and shake it up. I would walk around the festival carrying that beautiful greasy bag, pulling Zeppole out and getting the sugar all over myself while eating them. Talk about a happy kid!
Now I live in Monroe, CT and our local church, St. Jude, has an Italian festival also. Naturally, they serve fried dough, but it is in the form of Pizza Fritte. Flattened out like pizza, fried and served in a plate with either powdered sugar or sauce (blasphemy). While I never would say no to Pizza Fritte (with sugar), it’s just not the same experience as the Zeppole were. I like the fluffiness of the Zeppole, sometimes Pizza Fritte is too flat in spots and gets crispy. Also, maybe it’s just nostalgia, but nothing can beat walking around with that paper bag full of messy treats.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- vegetable oil for frying
- powdered sugar
- In a small bowl, add the yeast, sugar and salt to the water. Let stand until creamy, about 2 minutes, and stir to dissolve the yeast.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until a nice sticky dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours.
- In a deep saucepan, pour in vegetable oil to a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil to 370 degrees (use a frying thermometer).
- Use two tablespoons to scoop out the dough and drop it into the hot oil, by using one spoon to push the dough off of the other. Do this for about 4 zeppole at a time, do not crowd them in the pan. Cook until golden brown and puffy, turning with a slotted spoon to fry evenly on all sides.
- Remove the zeppole from the oil with the slotted spoon, and transfer to a plate or tray lined with paper towels to drain. When all zeppole are fried and drained sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and serve hot.