Every year on the 19th of March, Malta celebrates the feast of Saint Joseph. It is a religious feast which sits right in the middle of the Lent period as fellow Maltese Christians prepare for Easter.
Pastry kitchens in Malta have their own traditional repertoire of pastries to accommodate those who choose to fast during lent. One particular pastry which the Maltese look forward to is the ‘Zeppole di San Giuseppe‘ or also better know in Maltese as ‘Sfineg ta’ San Guzepp‘.
One particular confectioner who has kept the tradition alive for so many years is Busy Bee. Busy Bee are a household name in Malta as they are one of the established pastry makers baking away since 1933. If you ask someone in Malta about ‘Sfineg ta’ San Giuzepp‘, we are sure that Busy Bee will come up to mind.
“We have been making Sfineg (Zeppoli) since my great-grandfather’s time. From 1933. That is how long the Busy Bee Zeppoli have been popular. In reality, it is nothing special: choux pastry filled with sweet ricotta topped with pure honey and almonds. But they are good because they are made instantly, everything is fresh with the best ingredients.
People come and line up to wait for it to be freshly prepared and go and find a place to sit and eat it. Here we make sure to use the freshest and purest ingredients. Quality is very important to us. We prepare around 25,000 Zeppoli a year.
When it has been some time since you have seen or made Zeppoli, you will want to taste them. The temptation is there. To grab one and and savor it. People ask for them around the feast of St Joseph. It is a seasonal product, like figolli (traditional Maltese Easter pastry filled with almonds and covered in chocolate or marzipan) and kwarezimal (tradional Lenten Maltese biscuit).
At the end of Lent, since there are those who would be fasting and not eating sweets, we make another Zeppoli batch especially for these clients. You would be surprised how many people come for them.
Right after the Karnival prinjolata (tradional Maltese carnival dessert), comes the kwarezimal and the figolli which are very popular. Everything is hand made. We bake around 10,000 figolli.
Last year we made an Easter Egg composed only from chocolate weighing 50 kilos. A client purchased it and donated it to Mater Dei Hospital.
Other Busy Bee recipes which have always stayed within the family and are still popular are the ottijiet (Maltese spice biscuits) and fresh cannoli which the Maltese go crazy for.” – Luke Friggieri, Executive Pastry Chef Busy Bee