Make Ahead

CornĀ Zeppole

August 25, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Serves a lot of zeppole (feel free to halve the recipe)
Test Kitchen Notes

These golden nuggets of goodness are Andrew's latest riff on one of Franny's most popular menu items. In the past, he's made zeppole (the base recipe was inspired by a trip to Naples) with spring herbs, artichokes, fennel; with this recipe, he's come up with a quintessential summer combo of corn, chiles and pancetta. Each zeppole -- essentially the Italian version of a doughnut hole -- is impossibly tender within but crunches satisfyingly between your teeth with every bite. The chiles lend just the right amount of heat, and the sweetness of the roasted corn and the saltiness of the pancetta play off of each other perfectly. What's more: you can make these ahead and reheat them -- perfect for cocktail parties! - M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 34 grams fresh yeast
  • 300 grams all purpose flour
  • 155 grams fine yellow cornmeal
  • 6 grams salt, plus more for the corn
  • 1 cup raw corn kernels (from about 2 large ears of corn)
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup diced pancetta
  • 2/3 cup cup finely diced mixed hot chilies (preferably a mix of wax peppers and jalapenos)
  • 2 liters corn or vegetable oil, for frying
  • lemon wedges
  1. To make the zeppole batter, whisk the yeast with 500 grams lukewarm water in a large bowl. Then whisk in the flour, the cornmeal and 6 grams salt, until the batter is smooth. Cover and keep in a warm place for at least an hour. (You can refrigerate the batter for up to 24 hours, but let it come to room temperature before proceeding.)
  2. While the batter is resting, heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the the corn kernels in a bowl with a generous glug of olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper and spread evenly on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the corn is golden and caramelized. Set aside to cool.
  3. Put the pancetta in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, just until it starts to color (you do not want it too crisp). Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon and discard the fat. Let the pancetta cool.
  4. Put the oil in a large pot with high sides (it should come more than halfway up) and heat to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, stir the cooled corn, pancetta and chopped chilies into the risen batter (it should be quite thick). When the oil is hot, carefully drop the batter in heaping tablespoonfuls into the oil, cooking about 6 at a time (do not crowd them). If you have a splatter screen, use it, and be very careful, as the oil may spit. After about 2 minutes, turn the zeppole so that they brown on both sides. When they are golden brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, sprinkling immediately with salt and pepper. Keep the zeppolein a warm place as you cook the remaining batter. Make sure the zeppole have a chance to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, as the centers need time to dry out. If you need to, you can reheat them in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes before serving, with lots of lemon wedges for squeezing.
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33 Reviews

EBish August 7, 2013
I'm planning to make these for a big party - anyone know the actual yield of this recipe? Thanks!
Lilismom May 28, 2013
Is the measurement for fresh yeast the same as for regular store bought yeast?
Maggie P. April 2, 2013
What really puzzles me about your recipe is that you have used GRAMS to measure the water in the recipe. Given that you are using metric measurements I'm confused as to why you did't measure the fluid in Milliliters. I don't think I've ever seen a fluid measurement in grams! Is that really what you meant?

Peggy G. August 20, 2012
Could you translate the grams into american or more well known to me measurements. Thank you
Merrill S. August 20, 2012
Please see the comment thread below for a discussion of why this recipe calls for weight measurements. Thanks!
LoveAgent7 February 21, 2013

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Devangi R. July 8, 2012
I made these today for a family gathering...and these were a hit..everyone enjoyed them .. i had halved the recipe and later on thought I made a mistake by doing they were delish!. thanks for the recipe..corn is a favorite.
marcusklein May 25, 2012
Has anyone tried to make a vegetarian version of this? i need something to replace the pancetta.
Devangi R. July 8, 2012
Just avoid the pancetta.. I did the same....They were delicious.
gigiaxline September 16, 2010
any idea if I can make this ahead of time and reheat? How far ahead? They look absolutely scrumptious!
gigiaxline September 19, 2010
answered my own question: I made these on the morning of my dinner party and left them out room temp. They re-heated well in 300 degree oven for about 20 min.
cedge20 September 5, 2010
Can you use rapid-rise yeast instead of fresh yeast? I don't normally see the latter....
veronique September 7, 2010
I used rapid-rise yeast and let the dough sit for an hour. Was perfect.
Jocelyn G. September 3, 2010
I'm in the middle of prepping these now. I did cut the recipe in half, and the batter has been sitting for several hours now. It's bubbling, but it doesn't seem to be thickening up. It's still very soupy. The only thing I wonder is about the fresh yeast. I just bought it yesterday, but perhaps it had expired? I can't find the wrapper in the trash now. The other thing is that it had been in the refrigerator before I added it to the water. Perhaps that was a problem? I'm puzzled. Should I toss the batter or will it get thicker?
Merrill S. September 3, 2010
The batter should be a little soupy before you add the rest of the ingredients, but is it really runny? If so, something went awry. Keeping fresh yeast in the fridge is a good thing, so I'm guessing it might have to do with your flour or cornmeal measurement?
Jocelyn G. September 3, 2010
I used a digital scale, so unless I can't divide by two (jeez), I should be okay there. I would characterize it as a soupy sponge. I was thinking it would be closer to a bread dough after the first rise. Not that thick, but closer to that than what I have. (Belated best wishes, btw.)
Merrill S. September 3, 2010
You should be okay, I think. This muggy weather might be affecting things slightly. If it thickens to a slow, dropping consistency once you've added the pancetta, corn, etc., you should be good to go. Keep me posted!
Merrill S. September 3, 2010
Just saw you're in CA, so forget my muggy weather theory!
Jocelyn G. September 3, 2010
Heh. It's more a question of how does hot and dry weather affect the batter :-). I'll press on and see what happens.
Jocelyn G. September 3, 2010
All the worry was for nothing. They were perfect! Absolutely delicious. Thanks for the hand holding.
Merrill S. September 4, 2010
Phew! So glad.
veronique September 1, 2010
Please convert grams next time!
dymnyno September 1, 2010
I started to ask the same question and then I realized that grams are weight not volume so for baking it can make a difference...34 grams of yeast is about 2 1/2 tsp, 300 grams of flour is about 1 3/4 cups, 155 grams of cornmeal is about 1 1/2 cups. Using a scale is so much more accurate. It's like a cup of lead weighs a lot more that a cup of flour.
Merrill S. September 3, 2010
For this recipe, it really is a good idea to weigh your ingredients, and grams are much more exact than ounces. I promise it's worth pulling out your scale!
veronique September 4, 2010
I will buy a scale. Lesson learned! I did make these, though, and thought they were delicious. I'm having a small drinks party tomorrow night just so that I can make them again and for a larger group. have fennel in my garden now--may combine that with corn?? Suggestions?
Merrill S. September 4, 2010
So glad they came out well. I'd dice the fennel so it's about the same size as the corn kernels and roast it along with the corn. Great idea, by the way! I'm pretty sure Franny's did a fennel-only version earlier in the summer -- yum.
Jesse I. September 1, 2010
Could You Translate Measurements into American Measurments Please
Merrill S. September 3, 2010
Please see my response above!
dymnyno August 29, 2010
I made these for appetizers last night for a dinner guests ate every one of them...while exclaiming about how delicious they were!
Merrill S. September 3, 2010
Adriana August 28, 2010
Oh my god, yes. I will vote for Franny's-inspired *anything* zeppole.
MissGinsu August 27, 2010
What a great idea! I'm so torn between these two corn recipe finalists...
Midge August 27, 2010
with glass of Prosecco, yum.