Today we have something extra special for all Italian food lovers! One of the most delicious Italian dessert recipes we teach in our cooking holidays in Italy.
Puglia. It is a type of custard pie: a short crust pastry filled with pastry cream. Genuine local ingredients and a recipe passed down from one generation to another are among the reasons why pasticciotto plays a big role in the habits of people in Salento: they eat pasticciotto for breakfast when it is fresh out of the oven to appreciate the smell of the pastry cream and of the baked short crust pastry.
The traditional recipe is of an oval pastry but you can also make a bigger round pasticciotto cake. The filling can also have some variations: with pastry cream and black cherry marmalade, with chocolate pastry cream or you could also use cocoa short crust pastry.
Some say that pasticciotto was born in the 18th century in a village near Lecce during the festival of San Paolo. During the festival in a small pastry shop, a man wanted to prepare another cake but did not have enough pastry cream or dough, so he used what he had left and put it in a small copper container. Then he created this very little cake and he thought it was a real “pasticcio” (an Italian word that means both “a mess” and “pie”). He baked it and then, fresh out of the oven, he gave it to a pedestrian walking by. But the pasticcio was not a mess at all, the man really liked it and asked for more to take back to his family. The pasticciotto news spread rapidly and now it is a very typical sweet of Salento.
Here is the recipe to make about 20 pasticciotti!
For the pasta frolla (short crust pastry dough):
500 g all-purpose flour
250 g shortening (if you want it softer as it is should be) or butter (it will be slightly crisper)
200 g sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of baking powder
For the pastry cream:
50g all-purpose flour
6 egg yolks
150 g sugar
1 vanilla bean stick or 1 lemon zest
For the final egg wash:
1 egg, beaten.
Pasta frolla: Sift the flour and make it into a well on a pastry board. Add baking powder, sugar and put the butter (it has to be room temperature)/shortening in the centre of the well and stir a little with you fingertips. Then add the yolks and mix everything together. Your aim is to create a ball by kneading quite quickly, otherwise it will warm up and the dough will melt (because of the butter). Divide the dough in half and create two round disks of pasta frolla: then wrap each one with plastic wrap. Put them in the fridge and let them chill for at least 1 hour before rolling out.
Pastry cream: Place the milk in a heavy-bottom pot and warm it over low heat. Add the lemon zest/vanilla stick and let it steep for 10 minutes. Turn it off before it boils. In the meantime mix the flour and sugar. Then put the egg yolks in a bowl, whisk them vigorously with some warm milk and little by little add the mixture of sugar and flour. When you have a consistent mixture, add the rest of the milk.
Pour everything back in the heavy-bottom pot over medium heat until it boils. Remember to keep on whisking quickly the entire time, otherwise it will stick to the bottom of the pot. Let it boil until it is creamy and solid enough.
Put a little bit of flour on the pastry board and roll one of the pasta frolla disks until it is 3-4 cm thick. Then drape it over the moulds pushing it in gently and then roll the rolling pin over the top to remove the excess. Fill them with the pastry cream until it is just below the edge of the pastry.
Roll out the other disk of pasta frolla for the tops, and then brush the tops with egg wash. Bake the pasticciotti at 200 C for 15 minutes, and when the tops are golden brown you can take them out and serve them…Enjoy!!
So, if you like to learn more traditional Italian dessert recipes why not check our cookery holidays in Puglia?