Most people think of zeppole as a sweet Italian feast food. Make a quick batter and drop some in a hot fryer to cook. Presto! You have a traditional Italian street food favorite. Let’s not forget to toss them in a brown paper bag with some powdered sugar and shake them up. Now off you go to enjoy your zeppole as you stroll through an Italian feast.
How about a more foodie version? Something that is a little different and fit for a fancy restaurant or a nice dinner party in your home? My golden delicious Florida orange and saffron zeppole are just that. They are still easy to make and with the addition of a little orange zest and saffron, you have a mouthwatering surprise fit for a king. Saffron believe it or not has some great health benefits too. You can click here to learn more.
The trick to making these is to use two well-oiled spoons so the batter does not stick to them. This will also give your zeppole a more uniform shape. Lastly, use a kitchen thermometer to make sure the frying oil reaches and stays at 350°F. The rest is easy peasy!
Florida Orange and Saffron Zeppole
(Makes 20-25 zeppole)
- 1/2 cup of whole milk
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1-3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1 orange, finely zested
- 1 tablespoon saffron (or one big pinch)
- Peanut or vegetable oil for frying.
To Finish the Zeppole
- 1 cup sugar mixed with 1/4 cup of cinnamon.
- Combine all well and place in a bowl to coat the zeppole as you remove them from the hot oil.
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan along with the orange zest and saffron.
- Heat it just until you see some steam and bubbles rising from the edges. Do not boil the milk!
- Remove the milk from the heat and let it cool a bit before adding the yeast.
Tip: The milk should cool to a nice lukewarm temperature of 100°F. This will be a perfect temperature to bloom the yeast.
- Now add the yeast and one tablespoon of sugar and the honey and mix it all well.
- Place the mixture in a warm place in your kitchen and let the yeast proof for about 10 minutes.
Tip: A nice trick to keep the honey from sticking to the measuring spoon is to lightly grease it with some cooking oil before measuring it.
- In a bowl add the flour remaining sugar and egg.
- Now add the milk/yeast mixture.
- Using a spatula make sure to scrape all remaining liquid, honey, zest, and saffron out of the bowl.
- Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon for about five minutes to create a homogenous batter.
- The batter will have a thick yet smooth consistency.
- Cover the batter with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place it in a warm draft-free place to rise for one hour.
- While waiting add two inches of oil to your frying pan. Reserve it until ready to cook.
- Once the batter has been proofed it will be aerated and ready for shaping and frying.
- Using oiled teaspoons scoop up some of the batter and quickly shape it between both spoons and drop it into the hot oil.
- The oil should be 350°F and it’s best to use a thermometer to get this right.
Tip: If the oil is too hot the inside of the zeppole may still be uncooked even though the outside is a nice golden color. And conversely, if the oil is not hot enough the inside will be cooked while the outside still needs to color up. In this case, you risk overcooking the zeppole and having a poor end result.
- Cook the zeppole for about one minute on each side turning them as they cook.
- Then remove them quickly to be coated in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Periodically check the temperature of the oil. If it’s getting too hot remove your pan from the heat while you continue to fry.
- Place the pan back on the heat once the oil has cooled down a bit. Keep the flame moderately low.
- Continue to fry and coat all the zeppole in the cinnamon and sugar mixture and place them on a tray to cool.