[Sca-cooks] The medieval origins of zeppole and cheesy doughnuts

Christiane christianetrue at earthlink.net
Thu Aug 26 12:44:12 PDT 2010

>Ian Kusz wrote:
>> please share yr redaction and results.
Dama Antonia wrote:
>Here's mine.  The result is that they don't last very long.

Hmmm. The Anonymous Andalusian recipe and the recipe that Brighid provided seem to be different than this:

"Knead the fresh cheese with your hands as you would dough. Carefully knead in the semolina. Once it has the consistency of a dough of our zalābiyya, or a rather thick consistency, then take a piece and spread it out delicately in the palm of your hand. Place a piece of cheese in the center and close it up to make a bonbon. Flatten it a little bit and deep-fry in oil. Remove and sprinkle on powdered sugar and a little powdered cumin."

It seems in this one, you take your fresh cheese, reduce it to a paste by kneading, then knead in semolina until the cheese-flour mixture is the texture of zalabiyya dough. That actually reminded me of how some gnocchi are made, with ricotta cheese and grated fresh cheese and flour mixed together to make the dough.

Incidentally, in Sicily (and among Sicilian-American and Italian-American families whose grandmothers still went through the agita of doing this) there's a form of zeppole made for Easter or for St. Joseph's day, either baked or deep fried, filled with ricotta cream. But the dough itself does not contain cheese. These are sometimes known as cassateddi, though there are other forms of cassateddi made with a filling of chopped figs instead of ricotta.

I think they way I am going to try to redact the recipe above is to drain a container of ricotta (Sicilian ricotta is drier than the stuff we have here), knead it with semolina flour, and see what kind of dough texture I get. 

I am also trying to find out what are traditional Tunisian fresh cheeses. Modern Tunisia apparently produces a lot of gruyere. With the country's proximity to Sicily, I also wonder if there's a Tunisian version of ricotta.

Adelisa de Salernum

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list