I knew that George Clooney had great taste when I read that he ordered 2000 pasticciotti for his recent wedding in Venice! I couldn’t agree more that, once you’ve tasted pasticciotti, you will want to share them with all of your friends.
However, like so many regional specialties, pasticciotti Leccesi is a pastry found only in the Salento region of Puglia, specifically in the city of Lecce. Pasticiotto may have origins dating back to the mid-18th century in the village of Galatina but Lecce has declared the pasticciotto as its own.
Pasticciotto is basically a delicate pastry filled with a sweet cream/custard. Variations include lemon and, my personal favorite, chocolate cream. Best eaten fresh and warm with a piping hot cappuccino or perhaps with another local specialty, latte di mandorla (almond milk), pasticciotti are definitely divine!
In the skilled hands of a master pastry chef, the simple ingredients: flour, lard, sugar, and egg yolks become the delicious sweet dough; and, milk, egg yolks, flour, sugar and lemon peel becomes the creamy filling. The dough is expertly rolled out into a long “log” and divided into perfect sections. Individually molded into the pans, filled with the creamy filling, and then covered on the top with another piece of dough, each is perfectly “pinched” and trimmed, then brushed with egg white. Repeat 200 -250 times!
Then, into the oven for 10 minutes, cooled, removed from the pan and ready to enjoy. The speed and efficiency is pure art form and brings a whole new appreciation to every bite of this Salento specialty. All I can say is that I’m far more adept at eating than preparing!
If you’re in Lecce, be sure to drop by Pasticceria Natale, Caffè Alvino, or Luca Capilungo’s Pasticceria to name a few local favorites, and find out for yourself why it has remained a local favorite for centuries.