Sfogliatelle – #FirstontheFirst

by Kate on May 1, 2013

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When it came time for this month’s First on the First, I couldn’t have been happier while I’m pretty sure this month’s challenge struck fear in the heart of the others in our little group. You see, for me Sfogliatelle pastry has been on my baking bucket list for a years now. If you’re not familiar, Sfogliatelle are a seashell-shaped pastry known for their flakey layers and they’re filled with sweet cheese filling

Having wanted to make them for such a long time, I was thrilled but at the same time I was definitely intimidated and more than a little nervous. Sfogliatelle is the epitome of challenging! That being said,… I did it!! Kind of.

Sfogliatelle - FoodBabbles.com

As you can see, I have some layers going on but I seem to have missed the whole nice shell shape that should be going on here. I achieved more of a horn shape. Shaping the pastries was definitely the most difficult portion of this challenge for me. Despite the challenge of shaping the pastry, the flavor is spot on. Flakey, buttery layers filled with sweetened ricotta and they tasted amazing! As I bit into the crunchy layers, I felt like I was in a small bakery instead of my kitchen.

I can’t wait to see how the others faired with their Sfogliatelle. Be sure to check them out! And next month comes another incredible challenge!! We’re tackling Croquembouche. I’m so excited! Little balls of pate a choux all wrapped in bands of spun sugar. Yikes! I’m shaking in my boots but so excited to give it a try. We hope you’ll join us!

Sfogliatelle - FoodBabbles.com




Prep Time: 2 hours

30 minutes

Yield: 24 pastries


Flakey, buttery layers of pastry filled with sweetened ricotta.


    For Dough:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup water plus additional
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup lard, softened
  • For Filling:
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta (1 pound)


  1. Mix together 3 cups flour and sea salt in bowl of mixer at moderately low speed. Next, beat in water. Gently squeeze a small handful of dough: It should hold together without falling apart. If it doesn't, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, beating after each addition and continuing to test. Continue beating on low speed until dough forms a ball, about 5 minutes. The dough will not be smooth.
  2. Halve dough and roll out each half into a rough 12- by 5-inch rectangle (1/4 inch thick) with a rolling pin. Put dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Using a pasta machine, set smooth rollers of pasta machine at widest setting. Feed 1 piece of dough through rollers 6 times, folding in half each time. Repeat with second piece of dough.
  4. Stack both pieces of dough on top of one another. Using a rolling pin, roll together to form 1 (1/2-inch-thick) piece.
  5. Transfer dough to pasta roller and feed dough through rollers 10 more times, folding in half each time. Fold dough in half crosswise, then fold in half again. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 2 hours and up to 8.
  6. Beat together butter and lard in a bowl with mixer until pale and fluffy.
  7. Quarter dough. Keeping remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap, roll out 1 piece dough into a rough 4- by 8-inch rectangle (1/4 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Feed rectangle through rollers of pasta machine (dust dough with flour as necessary to prevent sticking), continue feeding the dough through the pasta maker, making space between rollers narrower each time, until dough has gone through narrowest setting. Dough is thin and about 4 feet long. Cover strip loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with a second piece of dough.
  8. Place first dough strip on lightly floured surface and trim ends to make even. Spread 3 tablespoons lard butter evenly over strip with offset spatula. Gently stretch strip to 9 inches wide with your fingers, moving slowly down length of strip. Beginning at a short end, carefully and tightly roll up strip, stopping 1 inch before end, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Spread second dough strip with 3 tablespoons lard butter and stretch to 9 inches also but do not roll it up. Overlap 1 inch of a short end from the second strip onto exposed end of first roll, then continue to roll up first roll to form a tight cylinder that measures about 9 inches long and 2 inches wide.
  9. Repeat this entire process with remaining two pieces of dough.
  10. Wrap cylinders well in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 3 hours. Chill remaining lard butter.
  11. Make filling:
  12. In a large bowl, add all the ingredients and whip together until combined. Spoon mixture into pastry bag and chill.
  13. Form pastries:
  14. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove remaining lard butter from refrigerator.
  15. Cut dough cylinders into 3/4-inch thick pieces.
  16. Lay 1 slice flat on work surface and gently flatten into a 4-inch round with heel of your hand, starting in center and smearing out in all directions.
  17. Shaping:
  18. Carefully scrape round off work surface with a knife or metal spatula. Put your thumbs underneath round and first two fingers of each hand on top, then gently push center upward with thumbs and simultaneously pull side downward with fingers, keeping layers overlapping slightly like you're opening a collapsible travel cup.
  19. Cupping cone in palm of your hand, pipe in about 3 tablespoons filling. Pinch edges of dough together to seal and put pastry on a baking sheet. Repeat technique with remaining dough slices.
  20. Brush sfogliatelle with some lard butter. Bake in batches in middle of oven (keep second batch covered with plastic wrap while first bakes), brushing with remaining lard butter twice during baking, until very crisp and golden brown, about 30 minutes total. Transfer pastries to a rack to cool slightly, then serve. Best eaten on the day they are baked.


Time does not include chill time of 3 hours.

Adapted from Gourmet, April 2011


{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer {Bake or Break} May 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I don’t know that I even knew these existed. Must make!


Mary Kay May 1, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Can you bring these to the bake sale so I can eat them without all that work 😉


suzanne May 1, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I get these at the Italian pastry shop, they look perfectly flaky and I know they are delicious. Good for you for making them so well. I think they are beautiful.


Kate May 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Thank you, Suzanne! Shaping them was quite difficult. I may have to give it another try but the flavor was wonderful and spot on.


Audra | The Baker Chick May 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

I’m so impressed! This recipe can’t have been too easy and it looks like you nailed it! I think the “horn” shape looks great 🙂


Kate May 7, 2013 at 8:46 pm

It was definitely a challenge to say the least but I say, not too shabby 🙂 Thanks so much Audra!


David May 2, 2013 at 10:45 am

I am so impressed that you tackled sfogliatelle! I usually leave this one up to the Italian bakeries, but now I might actually go for it myself. Looks amazing!


Kate May 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Thanks David! It was difficult but rewarding in the end, even if the shape wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped it would be. Loved the flavor though!


Deanna Segrave-Daly May 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I’m still impressed and think they look super yummy regardless!! I’ve been wimping out from some of the First on the First challenges – need to get back in the game 😉


Kate May 7, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Well hopefully we’ll see you next month, Deanna! Next month is equally challenging and I’m quite nervous. We’re tackling Croquembouche!!


Anna (Hidden Ponies) May 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm

These are beautiful, whatever shape they are! I totally backed away from this one – I had never heard of it and when I looked it up I could tell it would be an evening project with the kids in bed and it just never happened. Next month I’m definitely back on board!


Kate May 7, 2013 at 8:54 pm

It was definitely the most challenging thing I think we’ve done to date. It’s just been on my list of things to tackle for years. I don’t blame you for opting out 😉 I’m SO nervous about next month! Croquembouche is no joke 🙂 I have visions of beauty in my head. Hope I can execute it!


ChristineM May 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm

they look yummy!


Susan May 3, 2013 at 11:02 am

I don’t know what you are talking about but these looking beautiful and pretty spot on to me and I bet they taste amazing!


Kate May 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Thanks so much Susan! And they were pretty darn tasty indeed.


Meghan @ The Tasty Fork May 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm

You’re so brave!! But from the look of the pictures, looks like you did an AMAZING job!!


Kate May 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Thanks Meghan!


Lisa May 4, 2013 at 9:23 am

You are a rock star! I’m not sure I’d ever have the patience to make these. I prefer to just buy them from the local Italian Bakery..and you know NJ is loaded with them! Bravo, my talented friend and thank you for your kind words regarding my friend passing. xoxo


Kate May 7, 2013 at 9:00 pm

You’re very welcome. And thank you for your kind words on my sfogliatelle 🙂 I don’t know that I’ll take on the challenge again… I’m leaning towards the bakery next time but I’m happy to have taken on the challenge.


Terra May 4, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I remember when you shared a pic making this treat. I have been looking forward to reading your post, it sounded very intense to make. You did a beautiful job, and it was fun to learn about,. Thank you, Hugs,Terra


Kate May 7, 2013 at 9:02 pm

It was definitely intense Terra! But rewarding in the end 🙂


Greg Patent May 10, 2013 at 11:40 am

Well, I’ve gotta hand it to you. I’ve eaten sfogliatelle many times in Sicily, and I’ve promised myself just as many times that I’d try making them at home. But those promises remain unfulfilled. Brava!


Kate May 13, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Thank you SO much Greg! It was quite the process and I’m happy to have had the experience.


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