Try making this South Italian pastry at home. Pasticciotto Leccese ticks all the boxes for what a perfect pastry should be – sweet, sumptuous, and irresistible. Treat yourself to a serving of Italian cream filled pastry on your next break!
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If there’s such a thing as ‘comfort pastry,’ that’s pasticciotto for me. Sweet, creamy, and with a bit of crispiness from the pastry, what more could you ask for?
I discovered this delight when we went to Puglia in the summer of 2016. In the southern part of Puglia, a city called Lecce, where this pastry is as ubiquitous as orecchiette (the region’s pasta).
Pasticciotto is basically a sweet pie with a pastry cream as its filling.
The locals normally enjoy them as breakfast pastries, but I’ve also met some who would heat them after dinner and have them for dessert. Still as delicious as they were in the morning.
- Eggs – at room temperature.
- Cornstarch – in case you can’t find any cornstarch, potato flour is a good substitute.
- Sugar – regular white sugar.
- Lemon – you would only be using the lemon zest for the cream (not in the image above).
- Milk – regular full-cream milk is preferred.
- Pastry dough – if you already have a favorite recipe for making pastry dough, feel free to use that. Otherwise, give my pasta frolla recipe a try!
Start by preparing your pastry/muffin tins by greasing them with butter and a dust of flour.
Prepare the Italian pastry cream by heating milk on a small or medium-sized saucepan, placed over medium heat (photo 1).
While waiting for the milk, combine egg yolk, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest in a medium mixing bowl — use a whisk to mix (photo 2).
Slowly pour the heated milk on the egg mixture while constantly whisking the mixture. Do not pour the milk all at once, or you might end up cooking the eggs instead of making pastry cream.
Pour the pastry cream back into the saucepan and bring to a slow boil and until it has thickened to your desired consistency (photo 3).
Set pastry cream aside to cool.
Preheat up the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Start rolling the pastry dough and place them on your pastry/muffin tins. Leave some pastry dough hanging out on the tins’ side; you will be using this part later for sealing the pastry (photo 4).
Prepare (cut out) the pastry dough for covering the top of each tin as well.
Use a spoon to add pastry cream to each tin. Try not to put more than the top of the tin (photo 5).
Cover each tin with the rest of the prepared pastry dough. Fold the top pastry under the lower pastry to seal the sides and ensure that no cream will seep through (photo 6).
Brush top with egg whites.
Place in the oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes or until they turned golden.
Serve — enjoy your pasticciotto Leccese with a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired.
- If you are using your own pastry dough, try not to make it too sweet. Remember that you are adding the cream later, and the resulting pasticciotto might become overly sweet.
- Muffin tins or mini-tart forms are great alternatives if you don’t have the molds used in this recipe. I just got lucky that my mother-in-law gave them to me. 🙂
- Remember not to add the hot milk into the eggs all at once — do not waste the yolks by cooking them.
- CAN I ADD VANILLA IN THE CREAM?
Vanilla extract is fine, but using a vanilla pod is even better.
- WHAT CAN I SERVE WITH IT?
Coffee. I always have mine with an espresso (and I would have it no other way 😉 ).
Pasticciotto is best served warm and heating it in the microwave for a few seconds will always do the trick.
Be careful when eating though, hot pastry cream CAN burn! Enjoy!
FOR OTHER SOUTH ITALIAN DESSERTS OR SNACKS, CHECK OUT MY OTHER POSTS –
- Rustico Leccese (Tomato and Mozzarella Pastry)
- Sicilian Sesame Seed Cookies
- Panelle (Sicilian Chickpea Fritters)
- Sicilian Brioche
OR IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR MORE PUGLIESE RECIPE, CHECK OUT Focaccia Barese!
Pasticciotto Recipe (Italian Cream Filled Pastry)
- 1 single crust pastry dough (or pasta frolla)
- 2 large eggs, separated (yolks for the cream and whites for brushing the pastry)
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 lemon, grated zest
- butter and flour, for greasing & dusting tins
- Grease your pastry tins or muffin forms with butter, and dust them with a bit of flour.
Prepare the Italian pastry cream:
- Heat milk on a small or medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
- While waiting for the milk, use a medium mixing bowl and combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest; then mix with a whisk.
- Slowly pour the heated milk on the egg mixture while whisking continuously. Make sure you don't pour the milk all at once, or you might end up cooking the eggs.
- Pour the pastry cream back into the saucepan and bring to a slow boil and until it has thickened to your desired consistency.
- Set Italian pastry cream aside to cool.
Assembling & preparing pasticciotto Leccese:
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Roll your pastry dough using a rolling pin and arrange them on your greased pastry/muffin tins.
- Leave some dough hanging on the side of the tins; you need this later for sealing the pastry.
- Prepare (or cut out) the pastry dough for covering the top of each tin as well.
- Spoon some pastry cream into each tin — do not fill to the rim.
- Cover each tin with the rest of the prepared pastry dough. Fold the top pastry under the lower pastry to seal the sides and to keep the cream intact.
- Brush top with egg whites.
- Place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until they turned golden.
- Serve and dust your Italian cream filled pastry with powdered sugar, if preferred.
- Cook’s Tip #1: Feel free to use your own pastry dough, but check that it’s not too sweet. Remember that you are adding the cream later, and the resulting pasticciotto might become extremely sweet.
- Cook’s Tip #2: If you don’t have the molds that I used in this recipe, muffin tins or mini-tart forms are great substitutes.
- Cook’s Tip #3: Make sure you don’t add the hot milk with the eggs all at once — or you’ll end up with cooked yolks.