Flashback, I remember my father James "Jimmy" Selvaggio telling stories about a worker in his bakery,"Big John" he said they use to joke that his Sfogiatelle were huge like giant clams due to the size of his large hands.
Sfogiatelle Ricce (layered Sfogiatelle) is one of the most famous examples of Neapolitan pastry.
The local tradition says that this pastry was created by pure chance. It happened on bread-making day; one of the sisters (cloistered Nuns).
A cook and blessed at pastry, found herself with some leftover semolina flour cooked in milk. As it is a sin to throw away food, she thought of adding a few ingredients which she had in abundance in her pantry.
She mixed the semolina with dried fruit, lemon liquor (not yet called "Limoncello"), and sugar.
Then, after kneading the bread-dough with a little pork-fat and white wine, she flattened two portions of dough, filled them with the dried fruit preparation, folded them in the shape of a nun's wimple and cooked them in her wood burning oven.
The abbess was the first to taste the new cake; she relished it so much that she decided to share it with "the outside world". On the Feast Day of St. Rosa's August 30th, she offered it to the people of Conca. Conca dei Marini google map
The Legend holds that when King Ferdinand first tasted the Sfogiatelle, he understood that he had found a way to access all European royal courts: what king or queen could resist such a Machiavellian culinary temptation?
How many alliances would be owed to this splendid and delicious masterpiece? But... and there was a but: the Santa Rosa nuns had to remain cloistered... The king therefore had to abandon his project, because the authentic Sfogiatelle could only be eaten fresh out of the oven, it could not be re-warmed without losing its delicate crunchy crust.
SFOGLIATELLA SANTA ROSA
According to the 18th century convent recipe:
Take half a rotolo* of flour, mix it with a little pork fat and knead it with all your might (literally: "with the strength of a convict").
Then flatten out the dough and roll it out into the shape of a large bowl. Add a quarter of pork fat and roll it out four times "summerwise" and six times "winterwise".
Then cut it up into many pieces, roll them out and fill them with cream and chocolate or, if you prefer, with Castellammare ricotta.
Should you add a dash of vanilla, a drop of extract of Orange flower or a stick of candied citron, it will become a heavenly thing.
Fold the pâte feuilletée only halfway and, where the cream seeps from, add seven "weeping eyes" made with black-cherries or slices of peach. Slip into the oven and cook at a low temperature. Eat warm and lick your fingers."
*A rotolo ("roll") is an old Neapolitan measure of weight, approximately 2 lbs.