translated and adapted from this source
250 ml of milk
3 egg yolks
60 gr of sugar (a scant 1/2 c.*)
20 gr of cornstarch ** (1 T)
the zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
Place the milk, lemon zest, and vanilla over medium-low heat and allow to a simmer. Meanwhile, cream the egg yolks and sugar together very thoroughly, then add cornstarch and continue to stir. ***Temper the eggs with the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly, then pour back into the pan and cook over very low heat, without allowing it to boil, until thickened. Remove from heat and chill.
125 gr flour (~1 cup)
100 gr butter (just less than a stick)
125 ml water
a pinch of salt
1 T. sugar
50 ml milk
vegetable oil (if frying)
Place the butter, milk, sugar and water in a large, nonstick saucepan over low heat. When it starts to bubble, add the flour, a little at a time, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until mixed thoroughly. Remove from heat, and add the eggs one at a time, stirring each until incorporated.
If baking, pipe the dough in small swirls on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper (I used a ziplock bag with the corner cut off). Make them a good distance apart, as they will grow while baking. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 5-10.††
If frying, heat several inches of oil in a large pot or dutch oven and fry, turning once, until golden. Drain on paper towels.
Pipe chilled pastry cream onto the zeppole, garnish with cherries and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
*The volume measurements given in parentheses are approximate, and I haven't tested them, so caveat baker.
**The recipe calls for farina bianca, literally "white flour", but that definitely wasn't enough thickening power, so it either refers to cornstarch or something not available in the US.
***The original recipe calls for a piece of lemon rind and one of vanilla bean in the milk. If you use that, you would remove them at this point.
†I used 2 whole eggs, plus the whites left over from the cream.
††The recipe actually says, as best as I can tell, 475° for 30-35mins, but that didn't seem right at all, so I swiped the baking directions from elsewhere. I also used the technique of poking each pastry with a knife after they were out of the oven to allow the steam to escape and keep them from falling, but as they're relatively flat to begin with, I'm not sure if this was worth the effort or not.