Pasticciotto Leccese ticks all the boxes for what a perfect pastry should be — sweet, sumptuous, and irresistible! An authentic Pugliese recipe you can easily make at home, so treat yourself to a serving of Italian cream filled pastry on your next break!
If there’s such a thing as ‘comfort pastry,’ that’s pasticciotto for me.
What more could you ask for? Sweet, creamy, and with a bit of crispiness from the pastry. Yum.
I discovered pasticciotti when we visited Puglia in the summer of 2016. In the southern part of that region, there’s a beautiful and charming city called Lecce — and this pastry is as ubiquitous as orecchiette (the region’s pasta).
So, what exactly is pasticciotto?
Pasticciotto refers to one piece of pastry, and pasticciotti is its plural form.
The locals typically enjoy pasticciotti 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.
What is pasticciotti made of?
Pastry crust at the bottom, Italian cream in the middle, and another pastry crust on top — that’s how you assemble a pasticciotto.
So expect a perfect balance of crunch and soft and luscious cream in every bite. Simply delicious.
Oh! And don’t worry, it’s really easy to make a traditional torta pasticciotto at home.
So give it a try, and I’m sure you’ll make it regularly for your friends and family soon enough!
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- Eggs – make sure they’re at room temperature.
- Cornstarch – in case you can’t find any cornstarch, potato flour is an excellent substitute.
- Sugar – granulated white sugar is great for making pasticciotti.
- Lemon – you would only be using the lemon zest for the cream (apologies, not included 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 making pasticciotti by preparing your molds or muffin tins.
Grease each one with some butter and a dusting of flour.
Prepare the Italian pastry cream by heating milk on a small or medium-sized saucepan, placed over medium heat.
While waiting for the milk, combine egg yolk, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest in a medium mixing bowl.
Use a whisk to mix.
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 crema pasticciotto.
Pour the pastry cream back into the saucepan and bring to a slow boil and until it has thickened to your desired consistency.
Set crema pasticciotto aside to cool.
Preheat up the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Start rolling your pasta frolla and place them on your molds or tins.
Leave some pastry dough hanging out on the tins’ side; you will be using this part later for sealing each pasticciotto.
Prepare (cut out) the pastry dough for covering the top of your pasticciotti as well.
Use a spoon to add pastry cream to each tin. Try not to put more than the top of the tin.
Cover each mold with the rest of the prepared pastry dough.
Fold the top part under the lower dough to seal the sides and ensure that no cream will seep through.
Brush pasticciotti 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.
- Do not add the hot milk into the eggs all at once — or you’ll end up cooking the yolks.
- 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. 🙂
But you can also find pasticciotti molds in Amazon Italy.
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?
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!
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Pasticciotto Recipe (Italian Cream Filled Pastry)
- butter and flour, for greasing & dusting pasticciotti tins
- 1 single crust pastry dough (or pasta frolla)
For pasticciotti filling:
- 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
- Grease your pasticciotti 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 (pasticciotti) 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 the top of the pasticciotti with egg whites.
- Place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pasticciotti turned golden on top.
- 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 pasticciotti 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.