Sfogliatelle Ricci, 1000 layers of beautiful Italian pastry

Sfogliatelle Ricci italian pastry

This month’s challenge was a real treat!

Sandie of the lovely blog, Crumbs of Love, was our November hostess. Sandie challenged us to make a traditional Italian dessert, along with its American version – Sfogliatelle (or better known in the US – lobster tails!) The flakey, 1000 layers of super thin dough, shaped into a horn and filled with a scrumptious filling. Così buono!

Sandie offered us the recipes for sfogliatelle ricci, sfogliatelle frolle and lobster tail. I chose to make sfogliatelle ricci because it somehow reminded me of an arabic dessert that my kids love that is called warbat. Warbat is a dessert made of layers of a very thin dough that are filled with cream and then drizzled with syrup. The crunch and crackle of the pastry layers, beautifully contrasted by the creamy filling, the hints of rosewater in the syrup. It is simply irresistable.

Sfogliatelle Ricci

Sfogliatelle riccia , it turns out is also made with a, flaky dough, similar to puff pastry or phyllo . It is then filled with a mixture of ricotta, semolina, sugar, cinnamon, eggs and some candied citrus and/or other fruit. It seemed like a dessert that would hit the same buttons as warbat so I knew the kids would love it. I on the other hand loved the challenge of making it! Despite how crazy life has been this month, I was determined not to miss this challenge, so I ended up starting the day before reveal day!Not a good idea when you have such a  demanding challenge to meet, a new pasta machine that you bought because of this challenge and still have to figure out how to use it and a flue that makes your head spin!

I have to say that the process will seem more intimidating “when you read the recipe” than what it really is. If you break down the work over a few days, prepare the dough and the filling on day one and then roll and fill the dough on day two, you will find that the recipe is not as scary as it first seems. You might actually find it to be fun!and I have to say that the end result is more than worth the effort! Sfogliatelle ricci is a true melody of textures; the crunchiness of the pastry, the smoothness of the filling, eating it warm means that the heat will enchant you with the perfumes of the candied fruits and the cinnamon.

I will definitely make sfogliatelle ricci again, it is a dessert that is as tasty as it is beautiful. Thank you Sandie for a great challenge

Sfogliatelle Ricci, 1000 layers of beautiful pastry

Sfogliatelle Ricci 
Servings: 14-18 pastries


3 cups (750 ml) (15 oz) (420 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
teaspoon (6 gm) salt
3/4 cup (180 ml) warm water (about 100°F/38°C)

Filling: semolina ricotta filling (see recipe below)

To roll the dough you will also need
4 oz (115 gm) shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted butter, softened

To make the dough

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir in the water, or use your standing mixer with the paddle attachment.

The dough will be very dry. If you feel absolutely compelled, add an extra teaspoon of water but it is supposed to be very dry.

Turn this out onto a clean work surface and knead the dough together, bringing in all the dry bits.

tough dough

Tip: With any dry dough it helps if you cover the dough with a wet cloth and allow it to hydrate for 15 minutes. This means that you give the flour a chance to absorb the water, that makes the dough much easier to work with

At this point get your pasta roller or rolling pin out and ready. Roll out the dough then fold the dough in half  and give the dough a quarter turn and roll again.


I allowed the dough to rest for 5 minutes after every 3 turns.

Keep doing that until the dough becomes very smooth.

soft dough

Knead the dough back into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate and rest the dough for at 2 hours, or overnight.

To make your dough roll

Beat the shortening and butter together in your mixing bowl until very fluffy.

Make sure it is thoroughly combined.

Place into a bowl and set on the work space in easy reaching distance.

 Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 8 equal pieces.

Working with one piece of dough at a time (cover the other pieces with a towel or plastic wrap), lightly flour a piece pass it through the pasta roller set at the widest setting. Try to get the dough as even as possible, your goal is an even rectangle strip, about 4 inches (10 cm) in width. If needed, fold it over on itself a few times until you get an even strip. Once even, pass the dough until you get a thin dough (see notes)


You should end up with a long 4 inch (10 cm) wide strip.

roll as rack for Sfogliatelle Ricci

Gently pull the sides of the dough and stretch it, starting from the middle and going out, until it is about 8 or 9 inches (20 or 23 cm) in width.


Place one piece of a strip on your clean work surface and paint (or smear) it liberally with the butter mixture.


Begin from the short end and start rolling the dough into a very tight roll.


When you start to reach the end of your stretched section, stop and liberally grease up another section, stretching and rolling until all the dough is finished. When one strip of dough is finished, overlap the end of one to the beginning of the other; continue to pull, stretch and roll up.

Spread the shortening/butter mixture over the entire finished log and starting in the middle gently run the hands down the length to extend the length another inch (30 mm) or so. This will release any air pockets and tighten the roll. Your finished roll should be approximately 10 or 11 inches (25 or 28 cm).

Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

The dough may be frozen for up to 3 months, at this time. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Semolina-Ricotta Filling 

1 cup (250 ml) milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) fine semolina or cream of wheat
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (13-1/4 oz) (375 gm) whole milk ricotta, preferably fresh (you can make your own ricotta at home using this tutorial. It is super fast, easy and tasty)
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract (or the seeds of one pod and 1 teaspoon of extract)
1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground cinnamon (you can increase or decrease the amount to your liking)
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) candied orange peel (commercial or home-made)
zest of 1 lemon

Combine the milk and the sugar in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and slowly add the semolina (or cream of wheat), whisking quickly as to avoid any lumps.

Cook, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.

Spread the mixture onto a lined baking sheet, about 1/2 inch (15 mm), to cool.

When cool, break into pieces and place into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or a food processor), and add the ricotta cheese, egg yolks, vanilla and cinnamon.

Beat until very smooth and creamy.

Stir in the candied orange peel and lemon zest. (you can also use mini chocolate chips Or pistachios, the possibilities are endless)
Scrape into a container, place plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until needed (up to 3 days).

To assemble the sfogliatelle ricci

Preheat your oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and place your rack in the middle
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and place on a cutting board.

Slice off about an inch (30 mm) from each end so that they are straight and even.

Cut the roll into 1/2 inch (15 mm) slices.

Put the semolina-ricotta mixture into a pastry bag with a 3/4 inch (20 mm) opening (A disposable pastry bag or even a ziploc bag with the corner cut off is fine too).

Take one slice of dough and place it on your workplace. With the heel of your hand, push out from the center in one direction. Rotate the dough and do this in all four directions. This forms the dough and opens up the layers.

Pick up the piece and insert your thumbs on the inside with your forefingers on the outside meanwhile gently stretch the center to make it more into the shape of a cone.

Sfogliatelle Ricci tutorialSfogliatelle Ricci cone shaping

You don’t want the layers to actually separate.

Holding the cone in one hand, squeeze some of the filling into the cavity so it is full. Lightly push the opening closed. You do not have to seal the opening as the filling is too thick to ooze out during baking.

Place onto the prepared baking sheet and very lightly brush the outside of each completed pastry with the butter mixture.

Bake them in a preheated moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

These are best served warm with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar on the day they are made.

To reheat them, just place them in a moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 oven for about 5 minutes.

Sfogliatelle Ricci

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
The rolled dough for the Ricci  can be frozen for up to a month. When ready to use thaw overnight it in the refrigerator and then proceed with the recipe. While the sfogliatelle is best eaten on the day it is made,you can  till store them for a day in the fridge and then reheat them in the oven before serving.


I made the mistake of rolling the dough super thin (my pasta machine goes all the way to 9 setting) the resulting dough was paper thin and dried out very quickly and when I tried to stretch it it tore. That is why you will find that the center of my roll was messy. After the first round, I stopped at no 6 on my pasta machine which meant I got a very thin dough but it was stretchable and did not dry in heart beat.

My other advice would be to divide the dough into 8 parts as opposed to 4 and work with one small segment at a time. That will make your life much easier.

If you are intimidated by the dough you can use the same filling with store bought puff pastry to make some very tasty turn overs.

You may also like

Candied orange peel

Homemade ricotta

About these ads
Leave a comment


  1. These are so gorgeous!! I really wanted to make these, but just didn’t get them done (finding time in the kitchen with two little ones has been a daunting task for me!)

  2. It sure does look intimidating! What thin pastry but how gorgeous is the result. Clever lady!

  3. Kate

     /  December 8, 2013

    Hello there, I just discovered your beautiful blog. This is far and away my favorite pastry, ever. I am very impressed with your results and will have to try!

  4. One last question. Just read the comments where you mentioned you changed the recipe, using shortening instead of lard. Was the quantity the same?

    Lard in the traditional recipe makes much more sense to me than shortening due to its ability to help create flaky layers. Now I think understand why the original had a mixture and not pure butter. Butter AND lard would give flavor and texture.

    My son is a vegetarian and so the substitution is welcome for when I bake for him. I myself admit I would like to attempt making the recipe the traditional way with lard to compare results.

    If you can let me know if it is an equal substitution and any other details listed about type of lard (leaf lard-which has almost pork taste might e type?)?

    I look forward to making recipes from your culture and learning about your food traditions!

    Happy kitchen days,

    • Oops typo: “leaf lard has almost NO pork taste” is what I meant to type.


    • Hello again Anne,

      As I mentioned in the other comment, my substitution was for religious reasons. The challenge host suggested shortening as a good alternative for texture.Using all butter would not have given you the crispy crunchy layers. Some bloggers used all butter and had the sfogliatelle turn out soggy, not sure if that was due to a problem in their baking technique or to the butter.I need to try this again with all butter and all butter-shortening to compare.
      The original recipe did not call for a particular type of lard.
      As for the substitution. The Cook’s Thesarus suggests:
      lard (1 C shortening = 1 C – 2 tablespoons lard)
      I hope this helps

  5. Hello,
    Thanks to Sally and Bewitchin Kitchen, I found your most wonderful blog.

    Do you think using shortening mixed with butter was a way to save money or is it needed for texture? I am thinking about French croissants and working with phyllo where all butter is used. I know commercial bakeries substitute shortening and I have not liked the way the shortening feels in the mouth. And of course, all butter is heavenly.

    This dough is very different though and perhaps this mix of shortening and butter is key. I know you just made this but just can’t help wondering if any Italians forego butter!

    I love your photos! Did you take any food photography classes? Do you have food photographers or bloggers who also do photography you admire?

    Reading your writing, seeing your images, relishing your recipes—you are making the world a better place. Thank you.

    your friend in Seattle, WA,

    • Hello Anne,
      First off thank you so much for the sweet comment and kind words.
      I personally used shortening instead of lard because I am a Muslim and I don’t eat lard. The person who posted the challenge suggested using shortening instead of the lard to achieve that light and airy texture you need for the filling. Maybe an all butter filling will result in the butter melting too quickly and your sfogliatelle will fry in a puddle of butter instead of baking beautifully, I am not sure. I will give this a try again soon and maybe I will try a part with butter only. I will let you know how it turns out.

      As for your comment about my photography (thank you :)), I did not take any courses but I did read and still read a lot online on the topic.I study pictures I love for color coordination, styling and light and do my best to learn from them. I have boards on pinterest for color matching, styling and photography. It is a journey and I do my best to get better with time and practice.
      There are quite a few bloggers with photography that I love. http://cookingpleasure.livejournal.com/ is on top of that list. Check out her blog and I am sure you will fall in love with the pictures :)

      Last but not least, I deeply appreciate your gentle comment. You put a big smile on my face. Thank YOU

  6. Another amazing post by Sawsan!!!! :-)

    I wanted to let you know that I passed a little award to you… hope you like it! http://bewitchingkitchen.com/2013/12/07/a-blog-award/

  7. Karly K

     /  December 6, 2013

    Just wanted to say the tiny snowflakes flitting across my screen on your site are absolutely charming!

  8. Oh Sawsan – they look so pretty! I can well understand how the name came about. It looks so time consuming and intricate to make but the end product seems well worth the time investment!

  9. Wow! I definitely do not have the patience like you do. Who cares if it is messy in the center if it tastes divine!

  10. “The crunch and crackle of the pastry layers, beautifully contrasted by the creamy filling, the hints of rosewater in the syrup. It is simply irresistible.” I’m SOLD! What a beautiful pastry and your description and pictures make me want to jump on a plane and head to your house for a cup of coffee and one of these delicious pastry! Simply amazing Sawson!

  11. Sawsan. These are SO impressive – and so are you! What a fantastic challenge. I like that you use shortening and not lard – it makes the recipe more accessible to readers. Have a great Sunday. Warmly – Shanna

  12. Hello Sawsan, Absolutely a’ma~zing. It was only a few days ago, I was explaining to my friends what sfogliatelle/lobster-tails are and how they are made, including showing them a video from youtube. They all told me, I should make it. I responded, are you kidding me… only professional bakers can. Well, my hat is off to you, dear Sawsan. Brava! :D Fae,
    P.S. I left exact same massage for Sandie of Crumbs of Love. ;)

  13. Crumbs of Love

     /  December 1, 2013

    Your ricci turned out perfect and your step by step photos are spot on.I’m so glad you enjoyed this challenge!! (and now you own a pasta roller!!!)
    Best, Sandie

  14. What a fantastic job Sawsan. Its makes croissants looks like a piece of cake in comparison! I wish I had the time to make these – unfortunately not these days :( If only we could eat the pictures ;)

  15. What a spectacular job you did with these – they look so flaky and delicious!!

  16. Absolutely stunning – and what patience you have! Hope you get lots of fun out of your new pasta machine :)

  17. G’day! These look extraordinary Sawsan, true!
    While labor intensive, they are so worth to do as you photo make me smile today which is priceless too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  18. Beautiful pastry!! I love the layers!!!

  19. So beautiful, Sawsan! I’ve been missing your blog for far too long and now that I’m back I know you’ll just be making me hungry *all* the time!

  20. It is so interesting to see this challenge interpreted by others across the globe. I will be buying mine!

  21. Beautiful dessert. I’ve seen television programs where they’re made and they are so fussy looking that you have to take a lot of credit for undertaking the project. I’m happy to buy mine from an Italian bakery.

  22. Very nice sfogliatelle Sawsan, I love the way your layers puffed up a bit.
    Have a lovely day

  23. They look amazing!!!

  24. Aha, so THAT’S how they are made… I look at them every time I walk into a pastry shop, and they look so yummy (I can’t eat gluten, so it’s looking only for me…). Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, and compliments for your beautiful photos.

  25. Looks delicious!

  26. Wow Sawsan, that is one hell of a challenge. Congratulations on your success!! They do look divine.

  27. Oh my gosh.. this is insane .. look at the amount of work and delicate handling.. only you could have done this.. and the final product shows it.. simply beautiful! This is why I wish we lived closer!! :))

  28. Wow ! These look fantastic! …and they look like a lot of work.

  29. Zubaida Smith

     /  November 28, 2013

    As salamu alaikum, I noticed that you said you used lard in this recipe. Is this correct? Lard is made from pork.


Let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: