GBBO's Italian week, saw the bakers make a batch of sfogliatelle in the tent along with cannoli and a margarita pizza. Continuing to bake along with the Great Bloggers Bake Off I found homemade pizza, as delicious as it is, a little underwhelming, and cannoli somewhat scary with the thought of creating a makeshift fryer! And yet strangely enough I was excited to tackle the Sfogliatelle showstopper bake which Mr blue-eyes himself admitted he found difficult.
I must either LOVE baking or be an absolute fool to try and make a batch of Sfogliatelle, but I was so captivated by the amazing paper thin layers that were formed, the fun 'lobster tail' shape and of course the delicious ricotta filling!
How difficult could they be? Well, as it turns out very difficult.
They take hours to make, home baker Steven told us that his research into the bake taught him that professional bakers take four days to make them and yet they were only given a few hours to complete their bake in 'the tent!'
In all honesty, the rolling of the dough with the pasta machine and stretching it to be paper thin wasn't overly difficult once I'd got into the swing of it - though I did consign the first portion of dough to the bin because it had become tough with my liberal scattering of flour! I like to think of it as the sacrifice piece in much the same way as we often do when making pancakes or even Pikelets.
At this point, having put our 'sausage' of paper thin layers of dough in the fridge I was feeling confident, albeit exhausted, with the mammoth bake.
Then came the shaping! Working the discs of dough into cones without squashing the layers of lamination which had been created over hours of patient meticulous work is no easy task! It was undoubtedly, for me, the most difficult part. My shaped discs, instead of resembling ice cream cones (as suggested in Steven's recipe) were more akin to the small pinch bowls I had been making earlier in the week in my clay throwing class! The shaping did become slightly easier as I practised, but the all elusive lobster tail evaded me!
But if you fancy trying this challenging bake, here are a few tips when making sfogliatelle at home:
- Consider making extra dough so you can practise making them, especially
if they're for special visitors. The shaping stage is something
which needs practise.
- Shape and bake a few of the sfogliatelle before working on the remainder of the dough to see if your technique has been effective.
There's no getting away from the fact that sfogliatelle are challenging. And there's no getting away from the fact that they take hours to make. But they're certainly absolutely delicious!
So, when you next see some for sale in an Italian bakers don't raise your eyebrows at the price if it appears expensive for what may appear to be just a bit of flakey pastry filled with a creamy 'custard'. Trust me when I say that there is an enormous amount of skill in making sfogliatelle. And that's even before we think of the number of hours they take to make!
So, here's how to make Sfogliatelle.
Tails. Paper thin layers of pastry dough are shaped and filled with a
delicious ricotta mixture which is often flavoured with orange &
Hands on time: about 3 hour Bake time: 18 mins Yield: about 20.
For the Sfogliatelle Dough
- 500g Strong White Bread Flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 225ml Water, at room temperature
- 125g Vegetable fat (or if not baking for vegetarians use Lard), melted Lard
- 50g Butter, unsalted & softened
For the Sfogliatelle Filling
- 250g Ricotta cheese, full fat
- 250g Whole Milk
- 100g Caster Sugar
- pinch of Salt
- 1 tsp (level) Ground Cinnamon
- 40g Fine Semolina
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 Orange, grated zest of
- Icing Sugar
Notes: a) You will probably find it easier to stretch and shape the sfogliatelle dough with short finger nails. b) I found it easier to stretch the dough when a small piece of the dough was left in the pasta machine to create a little resistance which helped stretch the dough out.
Recipe adjusted from Steven's Chocolate & Ginger Sfogliatelle