Saint Joseph doughnuts

The doughnuts of St. Joseph are a typical, traditional Italian dessert: some argue that these delicacies celebrate the life of St. Joseph, and that that is why we make them for Father's Day on March 19. Other hypotheses suggest they were invented in Naples, and in fact the first written recipe dates back to 1837 in the discussion of Neapolitan cuisine by Ippolito Cavalcanti. In Neapolitan tradition there are two variants: fried and baked. In both cases, the doughnuts have a circular base of choux pastry (i.e. the dough used for cream puffs) with a central hole, are garnished with a pastry ‘custard’ and decorated with some tasty amarena cherry jam and sprinkled with powdered sugar. You must give this recipe a go on Father's Day - and also at other times of the year: the doughnuts will surprise you with their deliciousness and attractiveness as long as you make them carefully.



  • water 500 millilitres
  • Italian 00 flour 400 grams White
  • eggs 8 units For the doughnuts
  • butter 50 grams
  • salt


  • egg yolks 3 egg yolks for the ‘crema’
  • sugar 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • potato starch 3 level tablespoons of potato cornflour
  • milk 500 millilitres


  • amarena cherries For decoration

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40 minutes Total time
20 minutes Active time
Serves 6 persons
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Prepare the ‘crema’: get all the ingredients together: 3 eggs (only the yolks), 3 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons of cornflour, 500 grams of milk. Mix the egg yolks and sugar together well in a bowl until smooth. Add the sifted cornflour and blend in well to obtain a smooth mixture. Pour in the milk little by little, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool, preferably in a glass bowl covered in cling film to avoid the development of a skin. Preparation of the doughnuts (choux pastry): 400 g of flour, 500 g of water, salt, 7-8 eggs (depending on size), 50 g of butter; add the water, a pinch of salt and butter to a saucepan. Heat until the butter melts completely, during which time the water should come to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour in one go. Mix thoroughly. Put back on the heat and stir until the mixture forms a ball that comes off the sides. Cool the mixture and add one egg at a time. After adding each egg mix strongly: the mixture will tend to fall apart as you see in the picture, but once absorbed each egg it will reform and eventually look like a type of thick custard. Transfer the mixture into a pastry bag, fitted with a star nozzle. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and squeeze the dough from the pastry bag to get the doughnuts, making a circle for each one. Give the doughnuts plenty of space because they will tend to grow during cooking. Bake in oven for at least 20 minutes at 190 °C. Once cooled garnish with the custard. Serve your doughnuts decorated with sour cherry and a dusting of powdered sugar.

To get the right shape of a the classic doughnut equip yourself with a star nozzle and piping bag. It’s easy to buy a disposable bag of this kind, convenient for this purpose. In this recipe the pastry bag will also be useful to garnish the doughnut with crema at the end. The visual effect will be wonderful your guests will be amazed by the beauty of this enjoyable confection. Garnish your doughnuts just before serving so that they remain as crisp as when just cooked. Take care to cool the custard in a glass bowl with cling film so as not to develop an unpleasant skin.
To garnish the doughnuts it is common to use sour cherries or the jam which derives from it. The Amareno cherry comes from the Middle East, is said to have been brought by a Roman general, Luccullo. Amareno cherries are widely used in the culinary field, and are rich in vitamins C and B. It’s also interesting to note that the stems of the fruits, when dried, are used as potent diuretics and treatment for cystitis.

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