A pure southern italian dessert: pasticciotto salentino

Today we’re discovering the pasticciotto salentino, the most famous dessert in Salento, a geographic region at the southern end of the administrative region of Apulia in Southern Italy.

The pasticciotto salentino is a simple and tasty cake made with shortcrust pastry and custard, usually eat freshly baked for breakfast with a cup of espresso.

The pasticciotto salentino: discover a pure southern italian dessert

The legend tells that the pasticciotto was created in 1745 in Galatina in the pastry shop of Nicola Ascalone during the Saint Paul feast.
Nicola used scraps of a previous bakery preparation to create a small cake that he called himself a “big mess”. The still warm sweet dessert was given to a passer-by who, entranced by the delicacy, wanted someone to take with his family.

The success was immediate and the rumor spread throughout the region and so was born the “pasticciotto de l’Ascalone” which over time became one of the typical desserts of Salento.

Lecce: Roman amphitheater in Sant’Oronzo square

This story is not confirmed by any historical reference and it is not possible to attribute the paternity of the recipe to one or the other pastry chef.
In the absence of the real archival references, it is plausible to think that pasticciotto is the result of a reworking of an already existing recipe, born in a gastronomic context of the cuisine of Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where the are several desserts based on short pastry such as “fruttone leccese”, “bocconotto calabrese” or “bucchinotti con l’amarena campani

To taste the real pasticciotto in Lecce you can stop at Pasticceria Natale or at Caffè Alvino or in Galatina at Pasticceria Ascalone. To you the choice.

Lecce: Arcidiocesi

Ingredients for 12 services

for the shortcrust pastry

  • 250 gr Wheat flour
  • 125 gr Lard
  • 125 gr Sugar
  • 32 gr Egg yolks( about three eggs )
  • 8 gr Citrus peel
  • 1 gr Salt

for the custard filling

  • 500 dl Whole milk
  • 160 gr Sugar
  • 90 gr Wheat flour
  • 50 gr Egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean

for the topping

  • 50 gr Powdered sugar
  • 32 gr Whole Milk
  • 16 gr Egg yolks


Let’s begin with the custard.

  1. In large bowl, using whisk, beat together egg yolks and sugar until the yolks are pale yellow;
  2. Add the wheat flour and stirring until the mixture is completely combined;
  3. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and put them into the mixture;
  4. Gradually stir the mixture in a small amount of milk until blended;
  5. Add the remaining milk and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil;
  6. Boil and stir for 1 minutes and then remove from the heat;
  7. Let the custard cool down about 5–10 minutes and then cover it with plastic wrap to prevent the forming of the thin curst on the top.

Now we’re preparing the pastry

  1. In a large bowl, using a whisk, beat together sugar whit lard;
  2. Add egg yolks, sifted flour, salt and the citrus peel and use your fingertips to mix quickly the ingredients together until well combined;
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 10–15 minutes;
  4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll the dough to a thickness of 3mm;
  5. Using a large cookie cutter or any circular lid, cut out a 4-inch circle of dough. Press each dough circle into the bottom of a cupcake pan, leaving a tiny rim of dough sticking out at the top.
  6. Repeat with remaining dough to fill all 12 muffin cups;
  7. Pierce the dough whit a fork;
  8. Fill each cup until nearly full, about 1/2 tablespoon of the filling;
  9. Use the remaining dough to create a top crust to cover each pasticciotto;
  10. Use a pastry brush to brush the tops of each pie with the whisked egg;
  11. Then bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden;
  12. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Et voilà! The Pasticciotto salentino is ready.

The pasticciotto salentino a pure southern italian dessert
Coastal towers in Salento

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