Bigne’ di San Giuseppe

St Joseph’s Day Choux Buns


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes About



Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

The story goes that St Joseph, husband to the Virgin Mary and, in Italy, the patron saint of fathers, was a carpenter and so always had enough leftover wood to build a fire to cook on. According to the story, many carpenters of that time had a sideline in selling fried street food as a way of supplementing their income, and would offer simple food to passers-by, such as the famous bigne’. These buns are traditionally eaten on St Joseph’s Day, which is also Father’s Day in Italy.


  • 130 g/4 ½ oz/generous ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup cold water
  • 150 g/5 oz/ cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • caster/superfine sugar, icing/confectioners’ sugar, or a mixture of cornflour/cornstarch and cinnamon, for dusting


  1. Put the butter in a pan with the water. Heat until the butter has melted and then bring to the boil. Add the flour all at once and stir constantly with a wooden spoon.

  2. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, forming a ball.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Wrap in clear film or plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a bowl. Using a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of a food processor or mixer, mix the dough for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Slowly add the eggs, mixing the dough until smooth each time and scraping down the sides. The dough should be soft and glossy, but able to hold its shape.

  6. Heat the oil in a large pan or deep-fryer until a cube of bread, dropped into the oil, sizzles instantly. Using two teaspoons, scoop balls of the mixture into the hot oil.
  7. Cook until they are puffy and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

  8. Lightly toss in caster or icing sugar, or a mixture of cornflour and cinnamon, and serve warm.


Carefully snip open the base of the buns with scissors and, using a clean piping bag, fill them with confectioners’ custard, zabaglione, whipped cream or melted chocolate. You could also drizzle melted chocolate over the top.