Tuesday, November 27, 2007
This pastry is one of my mom's favorite. Every bite reminds her of her life back in Sicily before she and most of the family moved to the states. During a recent baptism reception at the Brownstone in Paterson, my mom filled her plate with at least 5, and everytime she put another in her mouth, she recalled a different memory. I knew then that I wanted to try to re-create these for her. The perfect opportunity came up mid-November, and one night when I had the house to myself and no one to complain about the mess that I knew I was going to make, I got working on creating what I knew my mom would really enjoy and appreciate.
Overall, the end result was fantastic! The pastry shell turned out delicate and moist and the filling, with subtle hints of vanilla and lemon, was perfectly creamy and not too sweet. However I knew I did well when after my mom's first bite, called over my Zia Lucia (our family master baker) to show her what I did. Her thumbs up, as well as my mom's, mean the world to me, and that's just what I got with this recipe. Enjoy!
The following recipe is used as a "filler" for many Italian desserts. It makes about a quart and a half of filling.
(Basic Pastry Creme)
Recipe from La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio by: Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene with Michael Evans
1-1/2 quarts milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peel of 2 large or 4 small lemons, cut in one long strip each
8 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2-1/4 cups of sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
Over low heat, slowly bring the milk, vanilla and lemon peel to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring occasionally.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and blend well.
Remove the milk from the heat and discard the lemon peels. Little by little, beat 3/4 cup of the hot milk into the eggs.
Slowly stir the egg mixture into the remaining milk in the saucepan, constantly stirring. When it is thoroughly incorporated, return the pan to high heat and let the crema boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy.
Side note: This recipe is easily cut in half. Crema pasticciera keeps well in the refrigerator for one day.
Recipe from "Concy" da Forum di Coquinaria: Pasticciotti
Non-translated version can be found here with step-by-step photos.
500 grams of flour
250 grams sugar
150 grams shortening
The peel of one lemon, finely grated
1/2 packet of lievito bertolini
1 recipe of crema pasticciera
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the flour on a large flouring board. Place the shortening in the middle of the flour and with your hands slowly incorporate them together. Mix in the lievito. Make a "hole" in the middle of the flour mixture and add in the eggs, sugar and grated lemon peel. Slowly mix in the flour mixture working your way from the inside of the hole to the outside, eventually forming a ball of dough. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for a half hour.
After refrigeration, roll dough to a 6/7mm thickness. Cut out the necessary sizes needed for the tart shells you are using. Place the dough in the tart shell and gently press in to make sure all nooks and crannies are filled. Put enough of the crema pasticciera in the shell to almost fill it to the top, do not fill completely! Cut out another shape of the dough large enough to cover the shell, and seal shut cutting away the dough that is left over. Brush the tops with some milk and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-22 minutes. When cool to the touch, remove from tart shells. When completely cool, dust with powdered sugar.