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Aug 22, 2011 01:51 AM

Sfogliatelle Baking Tips?

I am having a bear of a time making this work. The recipe is simple, I have even manged to get a nice streching dough rolled out very thin. But when it comes to forming the cone shape, I never get the leaves to seperate. Some people say slide the layers out like a collapasable cup, some say smash it down then form, and a third method seems to say use a rolling pin first.

I have notice that some videos in Italian show some kind of quick invert of the cone, but it happens very fast and I cant speak that laguage so I am lost.

Anyone got any tips?

The one video that seems to pop up all over on the internet seems like they are working the dough way to long and if you look at thier end result, its not leaves its more like ribs.

This is what its supposed to look like:

Or This

Not this:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Collapsible cup with some shaping and stretching method is how I've seen it done. Alex Guarnaschelli of the Food Network made them on one of her shows, and made it look so easy it screamed out loud. The show was Alex's Day Off, and I saw it rather recently. Here's the vid:

    Here's a video showing formation, and although it seems like the chef works this to death, and took much longer to shape the sfogliatelle than Alex did, her results were quite good:

    Good luck, these are tasty pastries and look impressive, and I think with a bit of practice, you'll get the technique down.

    6 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Thanks for the reply. Unfortuantly if you watch Alex's Day Off and read some of the poasts it looks like she cheated and bought the finish product and put them in the oven. Her dough was so thick there is no way they could have come out like that which explains why no one else can get the same results and her 2 star rating of the recipe. The actual recipe she uses is probably fine, but its the whole labor intensive stretching of the dough to paper thin and forming of the cups that is missing.

      1. re: kjonyou

        In defense of Alex, it was a 20 minute show and the actual sfogliatelle edited prep video took 5+ minutes. No one can do sfogliatella justice in that short time; the video was a quick overview of the basic procedure. What I was impressed with, aside from her recipe, which I can't vouch for, and the crappy reviews, including your input, was her simplified shaping technique. How thin you roll the dough is up to you; the thinner the better, obviously. If you watch her video again, you'll notice a very quick 2 second shot of very thin dough right before she starts to roll it up. It's TV. You asked for shaping information, I offered it.

        I saw another video at youtube that might suit you a bit better, where pastry instructors from the CIA were stretching the dough paper thin over their knuckles for least ten minutes, absolutely in the same manner as strudel or phyllo dough. Then they brushed the dough gently, with their hands, with melted butter. So have a friend come over, clear the table and stretch. Maybe this video will have a clearer technique for you, especially with the dough cutting, layering, rolling and shaping segment. The CIA technique is more time consuming but you'll get many more layers, and I dare say a more authentic looking product than Alex's shortcut 5 minute edited video sfogliatella:

        There's no sound with this video but you'll get the picture.

        I'm not sure what todao's comment about the issue with Alex using melted butter was referring to; I saw her brush the dough with melted butter, roll it up, chill it thoroughly, cut it and freeze the cut sections. It was hard to say what temp her melted butter was, and I use room temp melted butter routinely on phyllo or when making strudel, with no issue. Working with this dough does not require it be coated with butter before stretching, but certainly after. Using anything other than melted butter will tear very thin dough. The photo certainly has many layers, but there's no indication that melted butter wasn't used at some point. I'm assuming it was.

        Btw, I can't think that Alex would have "cheated" in any sense, by purchasing out. Do you honestly think that kind of thing goes on at FN? You assumed she ordered in in your review at her recipe page, but I disagree, knowing something about how FN kitchens work. Most likely Alex's sfogliatelle were made by a FN kitchen pro assistant before taping, or possibly even by her.

        Did you also see the FN disclaimer at the bottom of the recipe page?

        "From Food Network Kitchens; after further testing and to ensure the best results this recipe has been altered from what was in the actual episode."

        Anyway, it's just practice, practice, practice.

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          Yes I saw that video, I get how thin the dough has to be, but where I fall short is the forming of the shape. There seems to be a trick to streching out and sliding the layers that the fef videos that are avalible assume you can do easlay.

          Check out this video, there is definatly some skill and art to what they are doing, only wish they were explaining it as they go. They are very quick not like some othe videos. I suspect it keeps the butter or lard from melting. But also not smashing layers together. There seems to be an invert trick to it too, not sure why, but every disk start pushed out then inverted and worked more.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            FYI there is another Sfogliatelle video on the Food Network comming out Today 6/26/2011 on a show called Sugar High. By the same guy who was the owner of Ace of Cakes. So maybe, we will get tips from someine how actually bakes all day. He has posted a recipe even though the show has not aired. It might not be his, but a bakery he visits. Looks like the use of Bread Flour is in place instead of adding Semolina like Alex.

            1. re: kjonyou

              I may check it out for the tips, and thanks for the info, but to be honest I can't stand Duff Goldman. Don't really want to say more than that, as I don't like bashing celeb chefs or TV hosts, but he's just insufferable.

              You watch it and let us know.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                Well, don't waste your time. I hear you about Duff, painful to turn to that channel just for him. But in the intrest of baking I tuned in.

                Can I get my money back? What a wast of time, the show jumps from rolling out the dough to adding the filling. To add insult, the bakers will not reveal their "secret ingredient". Could it be Citron!

                Hey Duff, the least you could do is give us a hint like that other show on your network when chefs say that kind of thing

      2. I have absolutely no experience making this and had never even heard of them before seeing your post. But from what the results and process look like, they might be overworked in the last steps, (starting from when you turn them inside out) causing the layers to be stuck. Either that or the ones in the photo had more oil.

        1. The photo suggests that, unlike Alex's method, the chilled dough was well coated with butter, rolled extremely thin (thinner than Alex's method) and then chilled again (most likely in a freezer) prior to rolling and cutting. IMO, Alex's method of using melted butter is not the best way to get the job done. Melted butter than is barely above room temperature might work OK (it spreads easily and remains on top of the dough rather than saturating it) but I wouldn't use melted butter. Those very thin flaky layers in the photo are reminiscent of a good filo dough (Phyllo, filo, or fillo dough; as you prefer). The final shaping of the Sfogliatelle must be done without allowing the rolled dough to become too warm while handling. It's a delicate process but, with some practice, you'll get better at it. Don't give up.

          4 Replies
          1. re: todao

            Another point I forgot to make. You will find that some recipes for Sfogliatelle include egg(s) ...
            You might like that dough better than the one Alex demonstrates.

            1. re: todao

              Alex's recipe included eggs; not all of them do. A mix of butter and lard in the dough is common, along with AP and semolina flours. Often the dough is brushed with melted lard, rather than butter.

              Many recipes have cooked semolina added to the ricotta filling.

              1. re: todao

                I have not tried eggs, but I did have semolina flour on hand so it should be close to what the dough should be. I have not tried it yet, but I was thinking about adding a really high gluten flour to the mix, higher then semolina or bread flower. Should make it really stretchy but I really think in the end it has to do more with technique then dough recipe.

                1. re: kjonyou

                  I also found this video from Australia I think, whis is pretty informative. It's in english!
                  Note that he dose not use butter or lard in the dough. It seems to come down to rubbing lard on once side of the sheet dough and how careful you are to open up the leaves.

                  I am thinking part of the trick is NOT to melt lard or butter as it might be absorbed into the dough during rollup instead of cold where it will act more like a lub when seperating the leaves.


            2. If anyone is intrested, I also found this video, still now words but nice closeups and clean shots of how its made.


              7 Replies
              1. re: kjonyou

                Now that's the ticket. Notice that the butter is not melted; it's a little above room temperature and is applied with the hands. Eggs are reserved for the filling and not included in the dough.
                Best demonstration I've seen yet. Tnx kjonyou

                1. re: todao

                  How can you tell its butter and not lard?

                  1. re: kjonyou

                    It's butter, lard is white.

                    Do you have a pasta machine, roller type? You might try that, if you do, to get the dough started to paper thinness.

                    The pastry chefs in the video obviously make hundreds of sofgliatelle everyday. Nice shaping technique, makes it look easy.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      I used my pasta machine to get the dough to the right thinness, but mine still came out like the most delicious bricks I have ever tasted. I wish the best of luck to anyone who attempts these, but I concede defeat and now buy mine whenever I find them!

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        Duh, thanks for the butter tip.

                        I dont have a pasta machine, I know they are cheap but I dont have anywhere to clamp it down. I have managed to break the dough down into quarters and do one peice at a time with the flat space I got.

                        1. re: kjonyou

                          I'm sure you'll be able to work it out with what you're got. I'm betting most Italian nonnas didn't necessarily have a pasta machine either. Mine didn't.

                          Anyway, let us know how it comes out, tips, hints and photos would be nice if you can.

                      2. re: kjonyou

                        It's vegetable lard in the UK known as trex cookeen or flora white.
                        It's a key ingredient butter won't work,

                  2. Anyone Speak Italian?

                    Her is another start to finish video. Notice how the last step where the shell is being formed. The dough is not held more then 15 seconds. I thinks its more then just awsome skill, I suspect the heat from the hands would start to wilt the dough and the leaves would start to stick together during baking. I dont see any butter or lard added until after its being folded.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kjonyou

                      And another, this one is done by a site that is trying to preserve the Italian traditions of baking and cooking.

                      The end result is more like the one I dont want to make, but again I think its techniuqe more then a recipe. This one has no lard or butter added to the dough. That is the only one I have had some success with which suprisingly the lard or butter versions look more like how his came out. So I am guessing while he is a professional Chef in Italy, the recipe may be more authentic even if his skill for making them is not quite there.