Deep fried Traditional St. Joseph’s Day Cream Puffs are deep-fried choux pastry puffs filled with a fragrant custard and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are typical of the Roman cuisine. Traditionally, they are prepared on March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph, which is also Father’s Day. A pure delight.
For the Bignè:
- 1 glass water (about 150 ml)
- 50 g unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 100 g all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, organic free-range
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 lemons, the zest
For the lemon pastry cream:
- 3 large organic egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour (or potato starch), sifted
- 3 glasses of milk (about 400 ml)
- rind of 1 organic lemon
- In a thick-bottomed saucepan, add the water, butter and the pinch of salt. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon. Once the butter has melted and the water is boiling, remove the pan from the heat and pour inside the sifted flour. Return the saucepan on the stove and stir the ingredients with a whisk first and then continue stirring with a wooden spoon until you get a ball shaped dough. You have to keep stirring the mixture until you see a white film form at the bottom of the saucepan (about 5 minutes).
- Pour the mixture into a bowl and let it cool. Beat lightly the eggs and the sugar, then add half the mixture to the dough and stir until well incorporated, adding the other half only when the previous has been completely absorbed (you can use a wooden spoon, a handheld mixer, or better yet, a stand mixer). You want to obtain a smooth and homogeneous batter.
- Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a medium pot. Scoop a heaped tablespoon of the batter, then use another tablespoon (or your finger) to help drop the mixture carefully into the hot oil. Cook just a few at a time since they will get bigger.
- Cook the bignè slowly over medium heat, turning them occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they are golden and puffed, turning the heat up every so slightly towards the end. During frying, they should split partially and begin growing further. If they brown too quickly, the oil is too hot and you need to turn the heat down. When done, leave to drain on a plate lined with paper towel and continue frying the rest of the batter. Let the bignè cool completely.
For the lemon pastry cream:
- Heat the milk in a saucepan with the lemon rind; beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, then add the sifted flour. Pour the heated milk mixture slowly, mixing with a whisk. Put back the mixture on the stove and stir constantly until the custard has thickened.
- Transfer the custard to a bowl and let it cool with a plastic wrap on top to keep it from drying out.
Assembly the Bignè:
- When both the bignè and the cream are cool, with a piping bag, pipe the lemon cream into each bignè until full. Dust with icing sugar before serving. Enjoy!
- Of course, these are best made and eaten on the same day, then they begin to get soggy. You could make the bignè the night before and fill them the next day for serving. The custard keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator.