Cooking with Ms. M. #7: St. Joseph Day Cakes

St. Joseph Cake

St. Joseph Cake

Yes, everybody knows St. Patrick’s Day is March 17. What about St. Joseph’s Day on March 19? It’s an italian holiday my mom called San Giusep and the best part about it is the cakes! It’s a small pastry they only make for this one day. I used to buy them in NY and NJ and they were delicious: like a zeppoli stuffed with cannoli filling. Mmmmm….hang on while I wipe away a little drool, yum.

March 19th is also Mr. Obscure’s name day. No, his name is not Joseph. I am blending greek and italian traditions again, I do that. So, if you are greek and it’s your name day YOU give out cookies to other people. Isn’t that something? Since we have gotten married it has been up to my husband to bring home the St. Joseph Cake, which is also sometimes called sfingi.

Now that we live in Baltimore I cannot find good sfingi. I tried this well known bakery one year and it was awful: dry and tasteless. The next year, a different bakery in Little Italy. This one was not even close. It had cream filling and was soggy. I was considering having it shipped from Mike’s bakery in Boston, but with the threat of sequestration and furlough I thought I’d better pull in the purse strings. (If you are ever in Boston: GO TO MIKE’S. It’s unbelievable).

So I attempted to make them myself. It’s basically fried dough stuffed with riccotta cream. Only problem is it makes a lot of doughnuts!  I fried them up and I was the only one eating them. I stuffed myself with about 8 or 10 deep-fried scrumptious cakes. This isn’t going to work I thought. It worked when we went to the bakery bought one or two, enjoyed them and were done with it. This was bad, well it was good, but it was bad, if you know what I mean.

Confession: I am a foodie who does not like to cook, but loves to eat! I have one long sweet tooth. So, it’s a good thing I don’t like to cook because I’d never be out of the kitchen and I’d never stop eating.


medicine dropper used to inject cream

The next morning, I still had half of the dough in the fridge. After I ate 2 doughnuts for breakfast, I started to surf the web to figure out what to do. I stumbled upon this. I tried her suggestions for baking them. It came out wonderfully! Not exactly the St. Joe’s cake, but just like the cream puff and eclairs my mom used to make. I didn’t have any ricotta left to make the cream filling. So, as usual, I took the easy way out and mixed up some cool whip and vanilla Jell-O instant pudding. Then, using another suggestion from the website, I injected my cream into the puff. I wasn’t sure how to do this, but I found a medicine dropper lying around and I used this. I really like baking the doughnut instead of frying. It was lighter and easier to digest and didn’t create a mess. Probably, next year I will use a pastry bag as suggested because they did come out a little flat from using my cookie press.

This is definitely the way to go from now on and I’ll have to remember to make them ahead so my husband can take all the extras to work with him.

I’d pair this one with coffee or tea (and maybe a shot of sambucca or anisette).

Be sure to check out this website for great information and recipes:

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