Sfogliatelle abruzzesi are a sweet delicacy made from a fragrant shell enclosing a sweet filling made of grape jam mixed with toasted almonds. The sfogliatella is a very old traditional recipe of Abruzzo cuisine, probably it came from Naples, but it has been modified according to the availability of common ingredients of the Abruzzo territory and above all, easily available for to the farmers as lard or grape jam. Sfogliatella was considered a sweet delicacy because is a challenging recipe, so it was prepared on holidays or on special occasions like weddings or as present for the nobles of the village. I’m presenting my mother’s recipe that she learned from an her old friend. At the first attempt, success is not guaranteed because the execution needs some experience, but it is worth the effort. The recipe may be slightly different depending on the local traditions but in each version retains its magic charm because it express love for local traditions and for the genuine food of the Abruzzo region.
INGREDIENTS for about 30 sfogliatelle
INGREDIENTS for puff pastry dough
1 kg of flour
2 level tablespoons of sugar
260g of extra virgin olive oil
2 glass of white wine or vermouth (about 400 cl or 400 oz)
250 g of lard
INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING
250 g of grape jam
2-3 tablespoons toasted and ground almonds
To prepare the filling, mix almonds and grape jam. The filling should be quite firm, the amount of almonds depend on the hardness of the jam.
It is necessary to work in a cold environment, about 13 – 14°C (55°F) and it’s advisable to get help from a friend to carry out some critical steps of the recipe.
Mound the flour on a work surface, make a well in the center and pour all the ingredients.
Mix the ingredients with a fork and continue kneading by hands. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth, shape the dough into a loaf. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 60-90 minutes in a cold place.
After 1 hour knead the dough for 5-10 minutes and then cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 60- minutes in a cold place.
When the dough is ready, cut the dough crosswise into slices of about 1-1.5 cm (0,6 inches)
We have to make super thin dough sheets of about 1 meter in length.
Take a slice of dough and roll it down with a rolling pin than continue working with a traditional pasta machine.
Set the machine at widest setting. Feed the pasta through the roller, fold sheet in half and continue feeding the sheet in the widest settings until the dough is smooth and it has a perfect rectangular shape. Sprinkle the flour on the pasta sheet, set roller of pasta machine at position n°2 and feed the dough through the pasta machine, continue doing so until the ultimate setting.
Place parchment paper on the work surface, put the sheet on the parchment paper, making sure it is stretched forth without tearing, wrinkles and avoiding bubbles formation.
Brush the whole surface of the dough sheet with melted lard.
Overlay the second sheet on the first avoiding folds or wrinkle formation. Brush with melted lard, and overlay the third sheet on the second, continue until you overlaid five sheets. Brush the upper sheet with the lard and then begin to roll up the sheets from the narrow side carefully forming a cylinder squeezing the side edges.
Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and then with a cloth. Let the rolls stand in a cold place until the lard will be solid and the rolls well firm.
Preheat the oven to 175° C (350 °F)
Take a roll and cut it crosswise making slices about 1.5 cm. roll the slice out with a rolling pin to form a disk of about half a centimeter thick. Brush the edges of the disc with the melted lard.
Place a teaspoon of jam in the center of the disk.
Fold the disk in half to form a half-moon. It is not necessary to squeeze the edges to close the sfogliatella.
Brush the top of the sfogliatella with the melted lard.
Place sfogliatelle in a pan lined with parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes, until the sfogliatelle are lightly browned.
When they are cold sprinkle with powdered sugar.