If you have visited the Campania region, then you must have encountered this curious-looking puff pastries called sfogliatelle. And yep, that’s not a typo, no matter how the spellcheck may tell you otherwise. That is really how it’s spelled. As for how you pronounce it, you read it as sfol-ya-tel-le. And what is it exactly? It’s a puff pastry that has about the same texture as a croissant. But its shape is that of a shell or a lobster tail. And it can hold all kinds of yummy filling, such as a simple whipped cream or a special custard mixture with candied peels. Others even have almond paste as filling instead of a creamy custard.
Looking for the Authentic Italian Sfogliatelle Recipe ? Scroll down to the bottom. Or if you are looking for a different Italian dessert, this cannoli recipe might work for you.
Italian Sfogliatelle: The Origin Story
According to visitnaples.eu, the sfogliatella is a symbol of the city of Naples. The story goes that a nun in a convent somewhere in the Amalfi coast combined some leftover semolina with lemon liqueur, sugar and dried fruit. Then she took some dough and kneaded them into two sheets, and put the semolina mixture in the center, serving as filling. And this sweet pastry is called Santarosa, which is a sweet treat still very much popular in Italy today. It was named after the convent of Santa Rosa, where the first nuns who created it lived. Later in the 19th century, the pastry made its way to the city of Naples. There, a pastry shop owner named Pasquale Pintauro changed its shape into the triangular lobster tail that it is today.
The Many Different Sfogliatelle Today
Consistent to most of Italian cuisine, sfogliatella has at least two variations in the Campania region, and another one outside Italy. The two kinds of sfogliatelle in Campania are sfogliatella riccia and sfogliatella frolla while the one outside Italy is called aragosta or lobster tail. The lobster tail is most popular in the United States. Fillings may vary from cheese to an almond paste to a creamy custard with candied peels.
First off is the Sfogliatelle Riccia. According to most Italian websites, this should be eaten hot, as in right out of the oven. It’s because like croissants, sfogliatella riccia loses its deliciousness when it becomes cold. This variation is filled with a custard-like mixture of semolina, sugar, ricotta, eggs, candied citrus peels, with a hint of cinnamon. And of course, the pastry sports its popular clam shape. The crust is very crunchy and the filling has just the right amount of sweetness, perfect for breakfast, brunch, or afternoon tea.
Now, the other kind you find in Campania is sfogliatella frolla, which is a much simpler version of the pastry. How? Well, it basically has the same yummy filling. However, it uses a simpler dough called shortcrust, instead of the one with several layers. This type of dough is the one most often used for tarts and pies.
Last is the Americans’ version of this well-loved Italian pastry popularly called Lobster Tail. It is filled with a whipped cream mixture, which is usually added after baking. Its dough is kind of similar to that of Sfogliatelle Riccia. The filling is a kind of choux pastry that is injected into the center of the pastry shell, which puffs up the core and lends the pastry its delectable shape.
Sfogliatelle: The Energy Booster
Much more than just a uniquely scrumptious sweet treat, the sfogliatella is also a very good source of instant energy. Yep, you read that right. This Italian pastry is rich in nutrients such as phosphorous and calcium. Phosphorous is good for your metabolism, balances your body’s PH levels, and helps maintain your energy levels. Calcium, on the other hand, helps maintain the health of your heart, muscles, and nerves. And both these nutrients are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Pretty good for a pastry, don’t you think?
However, you have to watch out for the sugar and cheese because they do increase the calorie count. This is where creating your own variation becomes interesting because you can craft one that will suit your dietary needs. And without further ado, here’s the sfogliatelle recipe!
Now that you have some idea what a sfogliatella is, the next step, of course, is to know how to make them. Here’s an easy recipe to help you with that.
- 500 gr flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 175 ml water more if needed
- 25 gr honey
- 450 ml whole milk
- 100 gr white sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 150 gr semolina flour
- 500 gr ricotta
- 1 egg large
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 50 gr candied orange peel finely chopped
- 150 gr unsalted butter or lard
- Confectioner’s sugar
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add water and honey, and then mix to create a stiff dough. Then gradually add water.
Place the dough on the counter and knead until it’s smooth and supple. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, split the dough into 4 pieces. Get one piece, then roll through a pasta machine. Roll using the widest setting, then fold in half and roll again. Do the same on each dough. Repeat this process until you create smooth sheets by gradually decreasing the width on each roll.
When the sheet is at 1mm thick, lay it on the surface and apply a thin layer of lard or butter. Create thin sheets of the other doughs as well and roll them into similar thin layers.
Roll up the first thin sheet to create a tight sausage shape.
Next, wrap the next thin dough sheet around the original sausage shape pastry dough, layering up to create one large cylinder. Cover with a saran wrap and chill for 1 to 2 hours for the pastry to firm up.
Now, to make the filling. Place the milk, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add the semolina flour until it thickens and becomes smooth. After it has cooled down, transfer to a bowl. Then, add the remaining ingredients, stirring all the while to create a smooth, thick filling. Set aside, preferably inside the fridge.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Bring out the pastry roll and cut them into 1 cm-thick pieces. Use your fingers, greased with lard or butter, to make an impression on the center to create a cone shape.
Get the filling and scoop a spoonful into the hollow and press the edges of the pastry together to lock. Repeat these for the rest, and line up all pastries on the tray.
When you’re done putting filling on all the dough pieces, bake the pastries for about 30 minutes.
When done, allow to cool for only a couple of minutes before sprinkling them with confectioner’s sugar. Serve immediately.
Ecco, your sfogliatelle is good to go! If you followed this authentic Italian sfogliatelle recipe correctly then you should be enjoying a very delicious batch right now.