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Bigne di San Giuseppe Recipe

Traditional Roman sweets - fried pastry filled with delicious vanilla cream

Bigne di San Giuseppe are typical Roman dessert prepared for St Joseph's day in March. They are made from choux pastry but but they are frieds not baked. The result is a wonderfully soft, fluffy pastry filled with a thick pastry cream and a light dusting of icing sugar. Bigne di San Giuseppe are filled with Italian pastry cream - crema pasticcera - which is used in many desserts such as torta della nonna etc.

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  • 4 egg yolks
  • 400 ml milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or half of vanilla pod)


  • 250 ml water
  • 75 g butter
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 125 g flour
  • 4 eggs
  • sunflower oil, for frying
  • icing sugar, for dusting


  1. For the pastry cream whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy. Stir in cornstarch.. Transfer to a saucepan and place over low heat. 

  2. Add the milk, little by little, stirring between each addition. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic is on the surface of the pastry so it doesn't develop a skin. Once the cream is a bit cooler, chill in the refrigerator to cool completely before using.

  3. For bigne combine water, butter and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour and return to the low heat. Stir continuously until you see the dough come away from the sides of the pan. It should look like a smooth ball of dough. 

  4. Remove from the heat and stir the eggs directly into the saucepan one by one. You can whisk by hand or with electric mixer until the mixture becomes smooth and sticky. Let rest for about 30 minutes. 

  5. Now, fill a medium saucepan with enough oil so that bigne can float. When the oil is heated, scoop a tablespoon of the batter, then use another tablespoon to help scrape the mixture into a ball and drop it carefully into hot oil. Cook them slowly over low heat, turning them occasionally, for about 5-6 minutes, or until they are golden and very puffed. During frying they should split partially and begin growing further. When done, leave them to drain on kitchen paper and continu frying the rest of the batter.

  6. Using a piping bag, fill bigne with chilled pastry cream. Dust with icing sugar before serving. Bigne are the best when made on the day. 

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