Father’s Day in Italy: celebrating San Giuseppe with the Roman bignè

Mar 18 2023, 07:28 | by Michela Becchi
March 19th is the Italian celebration of San Giuseppe, Joseph’s Day. But it is also Father’s Day: Italians love to celebrate their dads with a sweet deep-fried treat. Here’s the recipe.

Father’s Day in Italy and bignè di San Giuseppe

Beginning in the 19th century, around the Basilica of San Giuseppe in the Trionfale district, the first fryery stalls began to pop up, to honor the Saint for a communal celebration of the festivity. This is a very rooted tradition in the Roman people, to the point of inspiring the Roman actor and poet Checco Durante, who dedicated some of his best-known verses to the bignè di San Giuseppe, the round shape fried treats filled with custard. Italian Father’s Day coincides with the celebration of San Giuseppe (Jospeh’s Day) on March 19th, so bignè are the perfect gift for all the gourmand dads. Here is the recipe.

Recipe for bignè di San Giuseppe


For the choux pastry

250 ml water

125 g flour

4 eggs

125 g soft butter


Vegetable oil

For the custard

4 egg yolks

½ l milk

150 g sugar

50 g flour

Lemon zest


Start with the choux pastry: pour the water into a saucepan, add a pinch of salt, the chopped butter and bring to the boil. Then add the flour and stir with a spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan in a smooth ball. Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs, a little at a time.

Time to make the custard: put aside ½ glass of milk,  bring the rest to boil in a small saucepan with the lemon zest and a pinch of salt. In a mixing bowl combine the egg yolks, sugar and flour and whisk with a wooden spoon. Add the cold milk to the egg mixture, then pour over the hot milk and mix well. Pour the custard into the saucepan and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, until it becomes dense and creamy. Remove the lemon zest and pour the custard in a bowl.

Take a few spoonfuls of the choux mixture and fry them in a pan with hot oil. Remove the bignè and pat dry them with some paper. Fill each bignè with custard using a piping bag.

by Michela Becchi


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