Ask my family and friends what my favorite Sardinian sweet is and they will tell you it’s zeppole sarde – zippulas in Sardinian.
Typically eaten during Carnival, and a must on Shrove Tuesday (Martedì Grasso, also known as Pancake Day or Mardi Gras), just a day before Lent begins, these fritters that look like donuts are plain yet complex, crispy yet deliciously moist, and they are the kind of thing everyone loves – even the pickiest children.
Carnival is quite a big affair in Sardinia. Here we celebrate like mad, in preparation for the 40 days of modest eating that will lead to Easter during which we aren’t supposed to eat sweets. Places like Mamoiada, famous for its Mamuthones masks; Oristano, where the Sartiglia is celebrated; and Tempio Pausania are known for having the most traditional celebrations, which can be either a feast of colors or extremely dark – but nevertheless interesting. And since so much of our culture is linked to food, zippulas are never missing during the celebrations.
GOOD TO KNOW: Don’t confused zippulas with zeppole from other parts of Italy – which are made with different ingredients and usually stuffed with custard!
How To Make Zeppole Sarde
- 2 and 1/4 cups (500 grams) of all purpose flour
- 1 (200 grams) white-flesh potato
- 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) whole milk at room temperature
- 1 egg
- The grated peel and the juice of 2 oranges
- 3 tablespoons acquavite
- 2 tsp (6 grams) of fresh yeast
- 1 small bag of saffron
- 4 cups of frying oil
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) of sugar for decorating
STEP 1 - BOIL THE POTATO AND PREPARE THE YEAST
Boil the potato in unsalted water until fork tender. Once cooked, peel it and mash it with a fork.
STEP 2 - MIX THE INGREDIENTS
In a large bowl - preferably a terracotta one - mix the flour with the egg, the mashed potato (while still hot), and the orange juice.
With a spoon, mix the yeast with the milk. Once the yeast has melted in the milk, slowly pour it onto the mixture, as a you continue mixing.
Add the orange peel and the saffron.
Mix by hand for 20 to 30 minutes, then add the acquavite.
STEP 3 - LET THE MIXTURE REST, THEN MIX AGAIN
Let the mixture rest for 20 minutes, then mix it for 20 more minutes.
Lasciate riposare 20 minuti e poi impastare di nuovo per altri 10.
STEP 4 - LET THE MIXTURE LEAVEN
Let the mixture leaven in a warm place, covered with a cloth or blanket, for about 4 hours.
STEP 5 - FRY THE ZEPPOLE SARDE
Warm up the frying oil in a deep pan. Ideally, it should be at 160° C (320° F). Using wet hands, take a small dose of the mixture, place a hole in the middle and loosen it up and place it in the oil, using a wooden chopstick to make sure the hole doesn't close, as shown in the video.
When the zeppola starts turning golden, flip it around and fry it on the other side.
Make sure to wet your hand in water for each zeppola you prepare and place in the oil.
STEP 6 - SPRINKLE WITH SUGAR
Once the zeppole are cooked, place them in absorbing paper to take out excess oil. Place on a dish and sprinkle with sugar.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 578Total Fat: 60gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 54gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 22mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g
Zeppole Sarde FAQs
Can I use another liquor instead of acquavite?
If you can’t get hold of acquavite you can use grappa or brandy.
Can I freeze Zippulas?
Put it this way: my mom always does. When she wants one, she takes it out of the freezer, let it defrost, microwaves it for a few seconds, and it’s almost as good as freshly made.
For more recipes, you may want to check out the following posts:
- The Most Delicious Sardinian Food: Everything You Must Try
- How To Prepare Malloreddus Alla Campidanese (Gnocchetti Sardi)
- How To Make Sardinian Culurgiones
- How To Make Pani Frattau
- How To Make Seadas – Sardinian Cheese And Honey Pastries
- How To Make Sa Panada From Sardinia
- How To Make Su Mazzamurru: Sardinian Bread And Tomato Lasagne
- How To Make Sardinian Fregola Con Arselle
- How To Make Burrida Alla Cagliaritana