Come with us behind the scenes of this typical Roman sweet!

Crowded streets, stalls selling sweets, toys, souvenirs, and lots of music. The people of Rome have commemorated St. Joseph, or San Giuseppe, with a great celebration ever since ancient times. The custom is the legacy of ancient pagan festivals, the Liberalia, honoring the god Libero, the deity of fertilization. During the festivities the older women wore ivy crowns and would light fires in the streets with pine branches to cook up focaccias, while everyone ate eggs, the symbol of fertility. Popular belief instead attributes the creation of fritelle to St. Joseph’s role as carpenter, who according to legend fried them up by lighting a fire with the wood chips piled up in his shop.

Today the tradition is as alive as ever, so much so that an entire area of Rome in the Trionfale district fills up with stalls of all kinds on St. Joseph’s Day, selling delicious Italian cream puffs they still call frittelle.

Would you like to find out the recipe? We’ve revealed all the secrets below so you can make delicious Bignè di San Giuseppe at home too!

Ingredients: 1/4 c. butter, salt, 2/3 c. flour, 2 eggs, 1/4 c. sugar, grated lemon zest, extra-virgin olive oil, powdered sugar.

  • Bring 7/8 cup water to a boil with the butter and a pinch of salt
  • Remove from heat and pour all the flour in at once.
  • Eliminate any lumps.
  • Put the pot back on the stove and cook until the dough begins to break away from the bottom.
  • Add the eggs, sugar and grated lemon zest.
  • Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • Heat plenty of oil in a pan and place walnut-sized chunks into the oil to fry.
  • Remove them once puffed up and golden and drain on paper towels.
  • Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Now you’re ready! Put yourself to the test and surprise yourself with this delicious treat!