Sfogliatelle Ricce (Recipe)



 Mini Sfogliatelle


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.

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.

Adapted and Inspired from http://www.concadeimarini.eu/ilpaese_tipicita.asp and

 Giuliano Bugialli's Foods of Naples and Campania

Sfogliatelle Ricce (print recipe)

Here is my favorite recipe!

Sfogiatelle Ricce (Layered Sfogiatelle )

For the pastry:

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups hard-wheat flour
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 cup cold water

Also needed

1 cup (8 ounces lard or butter melted at room temperature)

Using a procedure similar to making pasta add the flour to a clean surface and create a well
In the well add the water salt and honey.

Mixing from the center and lifting flour from the edges to the center; begin creating a paste followed by soft dough.

Continue adding the remaining flour incorporating it all to form a firm dough.

Knead the dough until it is firm and smooth about 4 to 5 min.  Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for 2 hours.

You have made the dough and now is the time to create the roll of layers that create the flakiness similar to puff pastry.

Rolling and layering the dough

There are 2 ways to do this the first way it to remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out the entire amount of dough on a large table like they do in the bakeries, brush the room temperature fat on the almost transparent dough and then cut rectangular strip 6 x 18 inch strip.

Rolling the strip tight like a jelly roll then moving it over to the next section of sheeted dough cutting that strip a bit wider due to shrinking and continue rolling it up.

Repeating this process until all the dough has been rolled up and resembles a tightly wound spiral of dough in the shape of a log (see video)

The next way is the one I recommend which I found in Bugialli’s Foods of Naples and Campania
Retrieve your dough and cut it into 4 pieces.

Using your hand cranked pasta machine crank out each piece of dough into a very thin long layer 6 inches wide and 18 inches long as thin as you can get it.

Place a sheet of the thin dough on top of a parchment paper tray or on the counter.  Brush the sheeted dough with the melted lard coating it completely.

Place another piece of sheeted dough on top of the one you just brushed with lard and repeat.  Does this until all the dough is sheeted and layered.

Trim the pastry now so it is a long rectangle.  Starting from the small 6 inch end tightly roll the stack of pastry into a tight single roll its edges should look like a rolled up newspaper.  It is important to refrigerate the pastry now wrapped in a cotton dishtowel (to absorb moisture ) for at least 4 hours.

For the filling

3 cups whole milk
Pinch of salt
6 oz or 3/4 cup semolina flour
6 oz whole milk ricotta, drained very well
12 oz (about 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1 drop Oil of Cinnamon

1 tablespoon Orange Flower Water
2 tablespoons Candied Orange Peel cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons
Candied Diced Citron
3 extra large eggs

In a suitable sized pan bring the milk to a boil being careful not to scorch it. Add the salt and pour all the semolina at once in into the water while stirring it rapidly with a wooden spoon. 

Cook the semolina for 10 minutes then remove it to cool for an hour.

Using a wooden spoon mix the ricotta, sugar, oil of cinnamon, orange flower water, candied orange peel, candied citron and eggs all together in a ceramic or suitable sized bowl. When the semolina is cool add it to the ricotta cheese mixture and mix smooth.

Preheat your oven to 375oF

Making and filing the Sfogliatelle Pastry Cones

Take out your chilled pastry and slice a 1/2 inch slice; this resembles a roll of ribbon.  Now lift up the circle and place it in the palm of your hand.  Using your finger press into the center and begin pushing the layers out as if you were creating a pinch pot turning and fanning until you have a layered cup\cone.  Think of one of those collapsible travel cups.

Now that you have your pastry cup\cone fill it with the filling you made.  Fold the edges over to resemble a clam and place your formed pastry on a  jelly roll pan brushed with lard.

Once the pan is full 12 per pan brush them with melted lard and bake them at 375oF for 15 min or until they are golden flaky and crisp.

Enjoy them right from the oven!

Here are some videos to help you to visualize the process


Flashback, I remember my father, James "Jimmy" Selvaggio telling stories about a worker in his bakery named, "Big John"  he said they use to joke that his Sfogiatelle were huge due to the size of his large hands, like giant clams!.  When I asked my father how they make them he said to me its too hard for me to explain I'd have to show you, he never had the chance to. Later in years I found his assistant Salvatore Greco at Albano Pastry Shop in Chicago.  I sat with him with a cup of coffee and he let me copy all the bakery recipes I desired.  This meant a lot to me because I knew my father made the same formulas! "Sammy" then sent me instructions on how to make Sfogliatelle with step by step Polaroid pictures on how to make and sheet the dough.  Dad is no longer with us and Sammy sold the bakery and is now retired in italy.

This post is dedicated to them. 

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