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1,841 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Please forgive the spelling but I am looking for Sfigladelle, the Italian Pastry that resembles a clam shell with many layers. Quite crisp on the outside and sometimes filled with custard or canolli creams.


3,236 Posts
Sfogliatella, as you well know Vincenzina, is a fan or shell-shaped pastry. It is heavy because it is filled with semolina, ricotta, candied fruit, and nuts. It is Neapolitan in origin, so how your Calabrian family was introduced to them is a bit of a mystery.

What is not a mystery is that sfogliatelli originated in the Middle East. Yes, the Arabs brought the art to Europe and it became the millefeuille of France, the strudel of Austria, the millefoglie of Sicily, and the sfogliatelli of Naples. The original recipes used a rendered pork fat called strutto, but today the fat is replaced with butter.

Shell-shaped Flaky Ricotta Pastries

1 cup water
1/2 cup ricotta
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup semolina
1 cup, 2 oz. flour
6 oz. butter
2 oz. strutto
1 pinch cinnamon
3 oz. candied orange peel, diced
1 egg yolk

Bring the water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and pour in the semolina, stirring so as not to form lumps. Cook, stirring for about 8 mins., stirring constantly. Let cool. Make a fontana with the flour. Put half of the butter, a pinch of salt and as much water as necessary to knead the dough to a smooth and elastic consistency. Wrap the dough in a towel and let rest for an hour.
Sift the ricotta; mix with the semolina, 6 tbs. sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and the candied peel. Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin to obtain a 25x18-in. rectangle, 1/16-in. thick. Cut the pastry vertically into 4 strips and place one on top of the other, brushing each one with melted butter. Let rest for half an hour, and then roll up the stack of dough.

Slice the roll into 10 equal pieces with a very sharp, floured knife. Place the pieces on the pastry board and roll them gently with the rolling pin, first vertically, in an upward direction, and then in a downwards direction, to give them an oval shape.

Turn the ovals over, place a bit of ricotta filling in the middle of each one, brush the edges with egg yolk, then fold the dough over and press to seal. Brush the sfogliatelle with melted strutto and place on a paper greased with butter. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425ºF for 20 mins. Remove from the oven. Brush with melted butter again, lower the temperature to 350ºF and bake for another 20 mins. Let cool, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve.



2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lard or better, melted
Combine flours, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Add butter, cutting it into the dough until blended. Slowly add water. Knead until firm. Form into a ball, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours.


1 cup milk
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon of either
candied orange peel, lemon zest, candied fruit of choice, pinch of cinnamon
confectioners sugar

Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add milk. Bring to a boil and slowly add semolina flour. Stir constantly so as to avoid lumps. Simmer three to four minutes, remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and allow to cool.

After five minutes add ricotta (which has been passed through a sieve), egg, sugar, candied fruit, and sugar to semolina. Beat well. Set aside.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Divided it into two equal parts. Place on a dusted pastry board and roll with a rolling pin into an 18 inch square. It will become very, very, thin.

Brush the thin pastry with butter. Begin at one end and roll it like a jelly roll. Cut the roll into a number of 3-4 inch pieces. Pick up one piece of the dough in your hand. Press your thumb in the center of the pastry and push it down to form a hole like a cup.

Fill the cup with 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold the cup until the open edges touch. Gently press the edges together to seal the pastry. Set it in front of you. Gently pull out the sides of the front to form a shell. Brush the top with beaten egg yolk.

Repeat above until all pastry and filling are used. Preheat over to 425°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the shells on the paper and bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Let the pastry cool on the cookie sheet for five minutes. It will harden a bit. Then place on a rack. When ready to serve and completely cool, sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

467 Posts
Although they're one of my favourite pastries, I've never made Sfogliatelle because they seem too difficult to be successfully made at home. This is just what some of the sources I've looked up say, apparently because Neapolitan pastry chefs use a special device (called "Rombola") to spread the dough as thin as required.

Apart from that, ingredients and doses are about the same in all the recipes I know (and the same of the recipes quoted by Isa), while there are differences in the technique to roll out the dough and in the cooking time.

1)It seems that the critical point to get good sfogliatelle is the dough. It must be the most thin you can, but you cannot spread flour on it while rolling to prevent sticking. So, some recipes suggest to spread it on a very large table to get a single giant layer, which must be brushed with strutto and rolled up. The higher number of folds you get, the better sfogliatelle you make. Some recipes also suggest to refrigerate the roll overnight before using it.

2)Baking time: it varies from 15 to 45 mins according to the various recipes. :confused:
Some recipes prescribe to brush the sfogliatelle with strutto a couple of times during baking; others suggest to bake them for 10 mins, then remove them from the oven and cool down for some mins, finally put them back in the oven until they're done (appartently this makes the sfogliatelle crispier).

Finally, even if I've never made sfogliatelle, let me add another thing. It's not true that strutto (that rendered pork fat) isn't used anymore. On the contrary, it's probably mandatory to get the best results when making not only sfogliatelle, but many other Italian pastries. If you can get it, try it when making shortcrust pastry or frying's not just suitable for hypolipidic diets, but the crispiness and flavour you get are unique.


3,236 Posts

Honestly Momo I had never heard of Sfogliatella until I read this tread. I just did a quick search hoping it would help Michele get started.

7,375 Posts
I had some in NYC last year at an Italian Bakery near Murrays Cheese shop....I wanna say Rocco was the name of the bakery. I don't remember the candied fruit being in the filling...I was impressed with the layers.

9,209 Posts
Great diagrams, Anneke. I once saw these made on an old episode of Mario Eats Italy.
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