Home Italy Revisited Bookshelf Plays About Mary Melfi Contact Us
Sfinge di San Giuseppe Sicilian crullers
Sfinge di San Giuseppe (Sicilian crullers, fried pastries filled with ricotta, flavored with candied orange peel and citron)
Originated from: Sicily, Italy
Occasion: La Festa di San Giuseppe (March 19th)
Contributed by: Adapted from "The Art of Sicilian Cooking" by Anna Muffoletto (1971)

Printer Friendly Version


For pastry dough
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lard
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Vegetable oil for deep frying

For cheese filling
1 pound (about 2 cups) ricotta cheese
1/3 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons minced candied orange peel OR 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons candied citron, minced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For decoration
about 1/4 cup icing sugar

Yield: about 14 crullers


Combine cheese filling ingredients and keep in the fridge.

For dough

Place water, shortening, and salt in a saucepan; cook over high heat until shortening melts.

Turn off heat.

Add flour all at once and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture leaves sides of pan and forms a ball (about 1 minute).

Remove from heat and cool (about 3 minutes).

Add eggs to the mixture, one at a time, beating hard for approximately 1 minute after each addition.

Stir in vanilla.

Heat oil in deep frying pan.

Take a small amount of the soft dough (about 2 tablespoons) and fry it the hot oil until golden -- about 3 minutes. Fry only 2 or 3 crullers at a time so they will have room to expand and move.

Remove with slotted spoon and drain onto kitchen paper towels.

To make crullers

Before serving, cut crullers in half and fill with the cheese filling, dusting the tops with icing sugar.


The recipe in this entry was adapted from "The Art of Sicilian Cooking" by Anna Muffoletto (New York: Doubleday, 1971). The cookbook can be borrowed for free at the on-line public library, www.openlibrary.org.... In her notes, the cookbook author, Anna Muffoletto, mentions that St. Joseph is one of Sicily's most beloved of all saints -- he is the patron saint of carpenters, unwed mothers and orphans. Throughout the region many activities are planned for The Feast Day of St. Joseph. Besides preparing "La Tavola di San Giuseppe" most villages commemorate the event by going to mass in the morning and giving food to the poor (In the old days orphans, cripples and impoverished widows were selected to represent the Holy Family, and then given money and food for doing so, but nowadays most individuals representing the Holy Family in the festivities are volunteers). According to the author for the Feast Day of St. Joseph Sicilians traditionally prepare over a dozen meatless dishes, which generally include: orange slices, fresh fennel, cured olives and braided bread wreaths as appetizers; for the second course, lentil soup or minestrone, and for the main meal: pasta con le sarde, spaghetti with sardines and fennel; other dishes included: fried fresh sardines, stuffed sardines, fried artichoke hearts, stuffed artichokes, stuffed escarole rolls, fried cauliflower and spinach and asparagus omelets (frosce). After the meal large navel oranges and pomegranates are offered, as well as the classic traditional desserts: sfinge de San Giuseppe (crullers), stuffoli (honey-dipped balls) and crispelli, rice fritters. Apparently, during the meal guests give tribute to the saint and shout, "Viva San Giuseppe!" The host traditionally ends the festivities by offering his guests a loot bag which include a loaf of holiday bread, an orange and some of the left-over traditional St. Joseph sweets. Photo: Mary Melfi.

Back to main list