First make the crème pâtissière by whisking the eggs and sugar to a ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour and milk, transfer to a pan and add the zest grated from the lemon. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Pass through a sieve into a bowl and cool.
To make the doughnuts, weigh the flour then put it in a measuring jug. Note the volume and transfer to a container. Pour in cold water to the same volume, then put this in a pan and bring to the boil.
Add the butter, sugar and salt and turn down to a simmer. Throw in the flour in one go and whisk until mixed smoothly. Take off the heat and add the eggs, one at a time, whisking furiously. It is easiest to use an electric whisk for this job. Even then it sets tenaciously gripping the whisk like an octopus.
In a deep-frier with basket, or wok or large heavy pan, heat the oil to 190°C/375°F.
Using 2 spoons, scoop a tablespoon of batter at a time into the oil. They will look great whatever shape they go in.
Fry about 4 at a time, depending on the size of your deep-frier or pan. As they start to brown underneath, turn them over. Repeat every minute or so. They will swell and turn golden and take 8-10 minutes to cook.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Fill a piping bag with the crème pâtissière. Pipe the cream into the middle of each of the zepolli, and spoon in a little of the cherry jam.
Dust the tops with icing sugar and serve while still fresh.
© 1995 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.