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How to Make Sfogliatelle | Authentic Italian Sfogliatella Pastry Recipe

Updated: 4 days ago

Sfogliatelle are one of the most delicious Italian sweets imaginable. With a stuffing made from semolina, ricotta and candied fruit surrounded by a shell of dough, these Neapolitan treats are truly magnificent. They're usually served for breakfast in Naples!

How to Make Sfogliatelle | Authentic Italian Sfogliatella Liscia Pastry Recipe

Sfogliatelle “Lisce” vs. “Ricce”

There are two types of sfogliatelle, and knowing which is which makes the difference between an easy recipe and literally the MOST difficult Italian pastry.

“Sfogliatelle Ricce” have a crispy exterior made from a thousand tiny layers of dough (think a croissant but way more tasty and about a million times more difficult to make). This style of sfogliatella is very impressive but also very challenging to make at home.

The other style is “Sfogliatelle Lisce.” These have a smooth outer shell, made from a dough similar to pie crust. They are just as delicious as ricce (many people prefer them, because they tend to hold more of the delicious filling) but are much more manageable for the home cook. For obvious reasons, the recipe below is for the lisce style.

Tips for Making Perfect Sfogliatelle

It’s best to make the filling the day before, as this will allow the flavors to really “get to know each other.” But before we even get to making the filling, we first need to get as much water as possible out of the ricotta, which involves draining overnight. For this reason, we recommend doing the prep over the course of three days. You’ll be rewarded for your patience in the end!

Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we try sfogliatelle in Naples here:


Makes: 10-12 pastries

Cook Time: 2.5 hours, best done over the course of 3 days

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 1/8 cup (250g) ricotta

  • 1 tsp (5g) salt, plus a little extra for the egg wash

  • 3/4 cup (90g) semolina flour

  • 1 3/4 cups (350g) white granulated sugar

  • 2/3 cup (80g) candied orange peel and/or citron, chopped

  • Grated zest of 1 orange

  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste

  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom or vanilla extract

  • 7 tbsp (100g) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

  • Powdered sugar for topping

  • Fine mesh sieve

  • Mixing bowls

  • Spatula

  • Plastic wrap

  • Saucepan

  • Whisk

  • Wooden spoon

  • Rolling pin

  • Round cutter (3.5 inch diameter)

  • Parchment paper

  • 1-2 large baking sheets

  • Basting brush

Two days before cooking, use a spatula to press the ricotta through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Place the ricotta back into the sifter and suspend it over the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the ricotta drain in the fridge overnight.

The next day, prepare the filling. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup (235ml) of water and 1 tsp of salt to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, gradually whisk in the semolina flour. Mix very well to avoid clumps. It should quickly form into a thick roux. Turn off the heat, move the dough onto a plate and flatten it into a pancake with your palm. Let it cool completely to room temperature.

Remove the ricotta from the fridge and discard any water that drained out. In a mixing bowl, combine it with the semolina roux and mix them together thoroughly by hand. They should be very well incorporated, without any clumps. If you have a stand mixer you can use it to mix them, but it’s not a necessary piece of equipment. Next add 1 1/4 cup (250g) of sugar and mix this in with a spatula.

To help achieve a smooth texture, press this mixture through a fine mesh sifter, just like you did with the ricotta. Then, finish the filling by mixing in the candied fruit, orange/lemon zest, cinnamon, and orange blossom or vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap and let the filling rest in the fridge overnight.

The next day, start by making the dough. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and 1/2 cup (100g) sugar. Mix them together by hand or with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry if the sugar is still a little grainy in the butter, as long as it’s evenly mixed in. Add one egg and mix this in thoroughly.

Next, add the all-purpose flour all at once. Mix until a consistent dough forms. Gather it into a ball and knead on a clean work surface for about 2 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 385 degrees F (195 C).

Take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap it, and roll it under your palms into a thick sausage. It should have a consistent diameter of about 2 1/2 inches (6.5cm). Cut this into 7 equally-sized pieces. Keep any portions you’re currently not working on in the fridge.

On a lightly floured surface, take one piece and roll it with a rolling pin into an oval, about 7 inches (18cm) in length and 5 inches (13cm) in width. No need to be super precise, it’s just to give you an idea of the approximate size! It’s fine if the edges of the oval are a little rough.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of filling onto one side of the oval, keeping the edges of the dough clear. Fold the empty side in half, over the filling. Press the edges shut around the filling, pushing as much excess air out as you can.

Use a round cutter or the rim of a cup about 3 1/2 inches (9cm) in diameter to trim the edges off. You should be left with a half circle-shaped pastry. Seal the edges well with your fingers and place the sfogliatella on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather any remaining scraps of dough for later and keep them in the fridge.

Repeat with the other portions of dough to make 6 more sfogliatelle. When arranging them on baking sheets, be aware that they will expand so give them a few inches of room and use multiple sheets if necessary.

Roll the remaining dough scraps into a new sausage, cut into portions that are the same size as the original pieces were, and repeat the steps to make more sfogliatelle. You should end up with 10-12 in the end.

Whisk the remaining egg with a pinch of salt and brush the tops of the sfogliatelle with it. Bake the pastries for about 25 minutes or until golden on top. Don’t worry if they rise and the dough breaks a bit while they cook, they’ll settle again as they cool.

Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Preferably serve warm and fresh, although cold is also delicious. Try to consume within one day for best results. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar before serving.

Buon appetito!

In order to have a true sfogliatella experience, you need to start with REAL ricotta. Store-bought doesn't come close, so check out our recipe for how to make your own! Looking for more Neapolitan food? How about trying a Parmigiana di Melanzane?

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