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Saint Joseph’s Day and the traditional “Sfinci” – The video

Do you know what Sicilians eat on Saint Joseph’s Day, the 19th of March? The traditional dessert that we prepare is called “Sfinci di San Giuseppe” and they are soft fried puffs with ricotta cream. According to history were the Arabs that introduced the sfinci here, they were initially covered in honey and afterwards replaced with ricotta cream. The name probably comes from isfang which means soft fritters.

A special thanks to the Pasticceria Amato, (via Favara 14/16), just in front of the Massimo Theatre in Palermo and in particular to Antonio Amato and Mr. Pino Amato that showed us how they still prepare these memorable sweets for the festivity.
Have a look at the recipe and the video. I am sure you’ll enjoy!!!

For the dough: 250 gr flour 00 – 1/2 lt water – 62 gr lard – 3,5 gr salt – 7-8 eggs (medium size/60 gr. each) – ricotta cream – candied oranges and cherries – vegetable oil or lard to fry
For the ricotta cream: 500 gr sheep fresh ricotta cheese – 300 gr sugar – 80 gr dark chocolate

1. Sift the flour and add the salt
2. Put the water and the lard together in a  sauce pan on a medium heat and let them glue together. Just before boiling remove from gas and mix gently with the flour stirring the whole mix with a wooden spoon. The mix has to be extremely smooth.
3. Transfer now the mix in a blender and add one egg after another until stiffness is very creamy and soft.
4. Put some vegetable oil or lard in a deep pan and wait until very hot. Then, take a spoon of dough and dip them in the oil. Fry until they puff and become golden brown. Remove from oil and try to drain them on some paper.
5. After few minutes with a spatula or a knife and spread some ricotta cheese on top.
6. Decorate the sfince with a thin slice od candied orange and a cherry.
For the ricotta cream:
The sheep ricotta cheese must be very fresh and not too liquid. Mix the ricotta with the sugar. Stir until it turns very creamy, then add some dark chocolate chopped in small pieces.


  1. Anonymous ha detto:

    These look so good!! Oh, the song has a great beat too.

  2. Georgia C. ha detto:

    Thank you. Yes this is a traditional Sicilian song with a new modern sound. Glad you like them both.

  3. The Addicted Baker ha detto:

    We have the exact same thing for Christmas every year! But we call them sfinges and don't have ricotta. Other than that they are the exact same! So delicious and so craving them right now!

  4. Georgia C. ha detto:

    Hi dear Baker, I like to find the "same differences" between cultures and cuisines. Are you from the States?

  5. The Addicted Baker ha detto:

    My grandparents came from Caltanisetta, Sicily, and brought the recipe with them. To where our family now has it in the states.
    This is our recipe:
    1 cup flour

    1 tsp baking soda

    ¼ tsp salt

    ½ cup milk

    ¼ cup water

    1 egg

    View full recipe

    In a large sauce pan heat enough oil for the dough (350°-375°).

    Mix all ingredients together with a whisk making sure to combine. Create balls of dough and fry at 400F. Balls will be done when golden. Leave them to cool down on a plate with paper towel. Top with honey and cinnamon sugar.

    *Only have 10 sfinges in the oil at once otherwise, you will lose count. Serve with honey and powdered sugar.

  6. Anonymous ha detto:

    My great grandparents are from Trapani and our recipe has ricotta in the dough. (no cassata filling) Dough is fried and tossed in granulated sugar.

  7. Georgia C. ha detto:

    For those who want to know who is singing in the video: the song "Ciuri ciuri" means Flowers in Sicilian dialect and is a very traditional one, re-arranged and sung by musician Roy Paci with his band, featuring Aretuska. Enjoy!

  8. Edym ha detto:

    Ci sono diverse varianti in tutta Italia. Abito a Roma da 25 anni ma sono nato e vissuto a Enna per 20 anni. A Roma si chiamano Bignè di san Giuseppe. Ma la cosa che cambia ,qui a Roma come in America e in tutto il mondo è e sarà sempre la qualità degli ingredienti! La ricotta Siciliana come la farina e tutto il resto ,sono unici della nostra terra! Ma è bello quando stai ” fuori casa” ricreare questi sapori e queste tradizioni. Viva la Sicilia e viva le belle e sane tradizioni!

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