San Joseph Sfingi
Sfingi di San Giuseppe
Sfinci ri San Giuseppi
This feast is celebrated in every house with a table full of bread called Pane di San Giuseppe, along with
pasta topped with fennel sauce. The wild fennels are fresh from the countryside and the pasta is served covered
with toasted breadcrumbs on top, to symbolize the sawdust in Saint Joseph carpentry. Because at this time of the
year the sardines are abundant, where they are available, they are added to this pasta making the delicious and
famous pasta con sarde.
At this time, a creamy legume soup, the maccu di San Giuseppe is cooked for this occasion, as it was
prepared in the pre-Christian era; it is made with a mixture of the previous year leftover dry legumes, overcooked
until it becomes mush.
To commemorate San Giuseppe, the leavened dough, originally used to make the
breasts of a virgin is improved with eggs to make it lighter and tastier, stuffed with ricotta cream, decorated
with a cherry, symbolizing the nipple, and called Sfingi di San Giuseppe.
Makes 15 to 20 Sfingi
For the Shells
2½ cups sifted flour
1 ½ cups water
2 oz. butter
6 medium eggs
Pinch of salt
For the Cream
4 cups ricotta (2
1 cup granulated
1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate shavings
2 tablespoons of diced citron or assorted
diced candied fruits
Zest of 1 orange
Pinch of cinnamon
2 drops of vanilla
Olive Oil, Canola or Corn Oil for deep
· A deep sauce pot for frying
Candied orange peels
Ahead of time, in a large bowl, thoroughly mix the ricotta and sugar until smooth. Blend in the zest of the orange,
cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate shaving or chips and the diced citron or assorted diced candied fruits
Store the cream overnight in the refrigerator.
Place the water,
the butter and a pinch of salt in a 4 quarts saucepan with a handle and bring to a boil, stirring
When it boils, remove from the heat and add the flour in one shot and blend well with a wooden spoon, stirring
continuously until the flour is thoroughly mixed with the liquids.
Return to the stove on low heat, and simmer until mixture forms a ball, about 3 to 4 minutes and makes a frying
Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl, turning occasionally with the wooden spoon to cool the mixture. It takes
a few minutes.
Add one egg, and incorporate it thoroughly into the mixture before adding more eggs. Keep turning using a
whisk or a hand held electric mixer, adding the eggs one at a time. Blend well until it becomes smooth.
The dough should be silky, thicker than pancake dough and thick enough to stand up in peaks.
Cover and rest dough for 20/30 minutes.
Use a deep pot to
fry the sfingi to avoid an overflow of oil.
Bring oil to 375 degrees, dropping the mixture a few spoons at a time, without crowding the fryer. To deposit
the sfingi in the oil use the help of another spoon. Deep fry the sfingi until golden. Transfer to drain in a
dish covered with paper towels. Cool and place in a sealed container.
If the oil is too hot the sfingi will not be light or “grow” to a nice size. While frying, tap the dough with a
wooden spoon to help the sfingi expand and separate. Keep turning the sfingi to ensure they cook on all
sfingia in your hand, make a hole with your finger and fill the inside of it with a tablespoon of filling.
Spread a thin layer of filling over the hole and decorate with powder sugar, the orange peel, the candied cherry
and the crushed pistachio.