I’ve visited lots of parts of Italy over the years but never Puglia – the heel of the boot – though in recent years the tourism to this relatively unexplored region has grown a lot. Some of the beaches look amazing. Pasticciotti are essentially custard tarts that Puglia is famous for, in particular in Lecce and neighbouring Salento, and they are often called Pasticciotti Leccesi. They were first made in the 600’s (yes that’s over 1400 years ago) and are so much a part of the culture that there is now even a feast day every 28 July – la festa del pasticciotto of course!
I had a good look at several recipes in Italian, and had to look up “strutto” which was an unfamiliar ingredient. Turns out it is shortening, I didn’t know where to get that so used butter, so not sure how much impact that has on the texture – I guess I’ll have to visit Puglia one day and find out. As with every classic sweet there are so many versions of this – here is mine. For a first attempt they were pretty good. The custard was devine, I figured if my pastry was a flop I could just enjoy a massive bowl of custard which would not have been a bad outcome. I loved the hint of lemon in it, but many other versions use a vanilla bean instead of lemon rind.
Traditionally these are made in little oval shapes, but if you don’t have these a cupcake tray will work just as well. Makes 12.
Ingredients for the pastry
500g of 00 flour
250g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Ingredients for the custard
50g of 00 flour
6 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
Rind of one lemon
To make the pastry
- Place the flour, baking powder, and sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to combine
- Cube the butter, add to the food processor and pulse until coarse in texture
- Add the egg yolks and pulse until just combined
- Tip mixture out onto a benchtop or surface and gently bring together with your hands then knead for a few minutes until smooth. Shape into a disc and refrigerate for two hours
To make the custard
- Combine flour and sugar in a bowl
- Place the milk and lemon rind in a pot over low heat, and heat to just before boiling point. Remove pot from heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes, then remove rind
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. Constantly whisking, gradually add about a third of the milk. Keep whisking then add the flour and sugar mixture, and continue to whisk while gradually adding the rest of the milk
- Return the mixture to the pot, and continue to whisk over low heat until it thickens. Pour custard into a bowl, place a piece of cling film directly on top of the custard (so a skin doesn’t form on it) and allow to cool
Assembly and baking
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees
- Roll out the pastry and shape into your twelve oval tins. Fill with custard, and then top with pastry and seal. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Slide out of tins and eat warm.