Sicilian rice zeppole (a sweet treat originating in Catania) are rice fritters invented by the nuns of the Benedictine Monastery of Catania in the 16th century. In Catania, in fact, they are also known as “crespelle di riso alla benedettini” or “benedettine”.
Their flavour is very tasty but delicate, thanks to the mixture of rice, milk and orange zest. The orange honey that coats them adds a touch of class. In Sicilian tradition, these treats were prepared on 19 March for the Feast of St Joseph and during the carnival period. Today, however, they are prepared all year round and help to bring any Sunday or holiday meal to a sweet and satisfying conclusion.
Here is the recipe for rice zeppole!
Bring 2 ½ L of milk flavoured with orange zest and salt to the boil. Add the rice and simmer without stirring until the milk is completely absorbed. Leave to cool and rise for a couple of hours.
Make a well in the flour on a pastry board. Add the cooled rice and the yeast. Add the rest of the lukewarm milk (about 600 g) in which you have dissolved the sugar. Mix everything together and add the grated rind of 2 oranges until the dough has the right consistency (not too liquid and not too solid).
Take small portions of the dough, shape them into small cylinders almost a finger thick and pour them into the oil preheated to 180°. After frying all the dough, dip the zeppole in the hot oil until they are crispy.
Serve with orange honey, a dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon powder (if you like).
And don’t forget to try the savoury crepes too. They are one of the highlights of Sicilian Street Food!
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Duration of preparation