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.

Crema Pasticciera
(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
3 eggs
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.


Anonymous said...

YUM! Those look so great!

Kristy said...

They look so fancy! And I made those pecan cookies below too! They are so good!

Claudia said...

Great job :)

Jilli said...

What a great surprise finding your site today! This recipe is exactly what I was looking for. We have the same cookbook, La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio, and I was wondering if you ever tried the Pasta Frolla recipe listed there? Wanda uses butter rather than shortening… You mentioned the use of lievito bertolini, would you happen to know the reciprocal value amount if you were to use baking powder+baking soda? So many of my recipes have these items listed and I always have to make substitutions for baking powder because it is not sold here. (Could lievito bertolini be an exact alternative?) I live in Sicily, north of Catania.
Every week a Sheppard man delivers fresh sheep milk ricotta to our home, and I was wondering if you ever made this recipe with Crema di Ricotta… I certainly will try!
Thanks again and keep up the great work!

Enza said...

Ciao Jilli! You have to let me know how they came out...they are so yummy! As far as the lievito bertolini...i'm pretty sure it's just an italian version of baking powder but with a vanilla flavoring and i'm pretty sure they make one with out the flavoring. My "stash" is running low, but my parents are planning visiting family this year so hopefully I won't go too long without any. Oh and I haven't made the pasta frolla.....YET....I have something yummy planned with that one and yes I do plan on using butter...I think it will give it a much better flavor. BTW, I have family in Siracusa (Solarino)....south of Catania. There is nothing more beautiful than the coast if Sicily! Your blog is great by the way!!!!

angelo said...

Enza, My wife would like to know if you can mix the pastry in a mixer or do you have to do it on a board. I have not had these since i was 15 years old( i'm now 60), my wife is going to try to make them for me. thank you Angelo