Traditional pastries from southern Italy that look devilishly complicated and are actually quite doable! # 110: Sfogliatella

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Hope you had a chance to get out there and do something kind for someone else today. Yesterday was pretty rainy and gloomy so I baked up a little storm inside too.

Do you know how to say sfogliatella? 10 points to you if you can! If not, it’s something along the lines of “svol-ya-tell-eh.” I’m not Italian though so take it with a grain of salt. The translation of the name is “puffs” which is adorable. I first learned about them while watching GBBO, and they looked incredibly complex. The delicate layers form a shell shape, or a lobster tail. (Mine weren’t quite big enough to resemble lobster tails, so we’ll stick with shells!)

They come from a southern region of Italy called Campania, which includes the city of Naples. It’s said to be a symbol of Naples, with a fuzzy origin story that includes a nun mixing a bunch of leftover ingredients and wrapping it in pastry and serving it for dessert. That’s my kind of origin story! If I’m ever to create a new recipe it’ll just be because I had random ingredients lying around and some free time.

The pastry dough has only 4 ingredients: flour, salt, honey and water. You do paint each layer with melted butter of course! Butter is the unsung hero of any puff pastry.

I used almost double to amount of water that the recipe called for in order for it to hold together. I added only a little at a time though just in case it magically went from dry and crumbly to a smooth dough in an instant.

Not the smoothest dough I’ve made, but since it had a date with the pasta roller later, I wasn’t too worried about it.

So glad my roommate loves to make fresh pasta! This pasta roller saved my arms the pain of rolling the pastry sheets out to 1mm by hand. Phew.

Love love love my pastry cutter/scraper. If you don’t have one, it’s time to invest! It’s one of the few gadgets that I use over and over and over again. I’m sure any brand is fine, but I really like ones with wooden handles. You have to hand-wash it of course, but it’s so small you won’t even notice.

Happy dough folds.

Still too thick, but getting there!

Paint with butter and start rollin’.

I cut my sheets shorter for my sanity and just did more of the rolls. Next time I make these, I’ll just start by cutting the dough into 6ths or 8ths instead of 4ths.

Voila. C’est magnifique!

While it’s chillin’ in the fridge, time to make the filling. It called for ricotta but I already had mascarpone sooo.. you know the rest. It just needed a creamy, yummy dairy product. Plus, I’ve substituted mascarpone for ricotta before (see cannolis) with great success!

It was a bit like making hot cereal. I’m leaning towards a classic custard filling or something similar for the future.

Cinnamon made it smell heavenly! I didn’t have any candied orange peels on hand, but that would have been a fascinating addition.

There was a little moment of terror when I thought the pastry layers had melded back together despite the butter in between. But it was just teasing me!

I just had to coax the layers out of hiding with some more butter. (Please excuse my messy table – I was also making a quiche and musubi this weekend so it was a happy mess of ingredients.)

So goofy!

A little asymmetrical, but how fun are they?!

The tiniest bit over done on the first batch. These are sturdy enough that you can check the bottom color mid-bake with a spatula.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Left: Bay Area winter. Right: East Coast winter.

Happy munching!

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