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Sfogliatelle {Authentic Recipe Step By Step}

Sfogliatelle Ricce is an iconic Italian pastry originated in Napoli, Campagnia region.

Super thin layers of crunchy dough filled with delicious orange and cinnamon flavored ricotta cream.

In this recipe for sfogliatelle you’ll find everything you need to make it a success: best tools to use, tips and tricks ans step by step pictures.

sfogliatella on a plate

The word Sfogliatelle is pronounced as [sfoo-llia-te-lle] in its plural form. One single pastry is called “sfogliatella”.

In Neapolitan dialect you might often hear them pronounced as [schwee-ah-dell].

Whatever you call them, they are a dream, a magic and a legend in and of itself.

Some might say that they’re also known for being complicated to make and even complicated to explain the whole preparation process.

But let me assure you, with a little bit of patience, a good pasta machine and these step-by-step photo instructions you can easily and successfully learn how to make your own homemade sfogliatelle!

Let’s start with the tools you’ll need.

Tools To Make Sfogliatelle

For the dough:

  • Pasta Machine
  • Rolling Pin
  • Standing Mixer or Food Processor (optional)
  • Large work surface, preferably wooden

For the filling:

  • Small Pot
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Spatula

Wondering if you really need pasta machine to make sfogliatelle?
The short answer is YES! If you want to facilitate the process pasta machine is essential for super thin dough rolling.

Not that you can’t do it by hand (you certainly can) but it requires certain skills.

Besides pasta machine will save you a ton of energy and time and at the same time giving a better quality pastry.

I’m using Atlas Pasta Machine by Marcato. And not only for sfogliatelle but for ALL things pasta and pastries that require thin and equal rolling.

You can read my review, detailed user guide and cleaning and care instructions here: Atlas Pasta Machine by Marcato {Detaild Review & User Guide}

Another essential tool to make sfogliatelle (even if you’re going to use pasta machine) is a rolling pin.

It’s good to have a standing mixer or a food processor, again, to make the life easier, but you can totally do without it.

How To Make Sfogliatelle – Step By Step

Preparing the dough

  • In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt give a stir.
    Add honey and lukewarm water (photos 1, 2).
  • Mix well with your hands or in a stand mixer until you get a crumbly dough (photos 3, 4).
    NOTE: Make sure all flour is mixed in. If there’s still lots of dry flour left at the borron of the bowl, add a tablespoon or two of water to make all the flour come together. There’s no need to make a smooth ball of dough, if fact, don’t do it! Even if the temptation is strong leave the dough crumbly, it’ll all come together later in the process.
  • Cover the dough with a plastic wrap or linen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Sfogliatelle Dough
  • Past that time divide the dough in 3-4 parts. Take one part and keep the rest of the dough covered to prevent it from drying.
  • Pass the first part of the dough through pasta machine on the widest setting. On Marcato Altas it’s setting “0 ”. Fold it over on itself, rotate and pass again on the same thickness setting until you get a sheet of dough without holes and relatively smooth (photos 5-10). It
  • Repeat the same process with the rest of the dough.
  • Stack all dough pieces together and wrap in a plastic wrap. Let rest for 2 hours at room temperature.
  • Once the dough has rested roll each piece with a rolling pin to flatten it out and help fit the widest setting on your pasta machine. You can connect all dough pieces together or divide them in two, which is easier.
  • If needed pass the dough on the same setting several times repeating the folding process, until you get a smooth and even sheet.
  • Then set the regulating knob of the pasta machine to the next setting (setting 1) and pass it again. Continue increasing thickness setting until you get to the thinnest sheet possible (setting 7-8 on Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine).
    See photos 11-13.
    NOTE: You’ll need to pass the dough just once on that last thickness setting.
    IMPORTANT: at no stage you should need to dust the dough with flour. If you make it correctly it won’t stick to the pasta machine. If you have the dough that sticks a little bit you can lightly dust it with flour at while you’re still working it on the widest setting of the pasta machine.
Rolling Sfogliatelle Dough
  • When you start passing the dough on the last (thinnest) setting stop the machine a couple of times as the dough sheet comes through and roll it up onto the rolling pin.
  • The ends (handles) of the rolling pin should be settled between two water bottles or soup bowls (or flour sacks) to prevent the dough from touching the table (photos 14, 15).
  • Repeat the same process with the remaining dough chunks.At the end you should get a sheet pastry approx 15 feet long and 5-6 inches wide rolled over the rolling pin.
  • Keep the dough covered with a plastic wrap until you move to the next step (photo 16).
Sfogliatelle Dough on a rolling pin
  • Prepare lard at room temperature. If using butter, it should also be at room temperature.
    Start to unfold the dough from the rolling pin.
  • Extend the dough sheet over a clean work surface and grease it thoroughly with lard/butter making sure you smear well the edges as well (photos 17, 18).
  • Place your hands underneath the dough and gently stretch it outwards elongating it to approx. 7-8 inches wide (photo 19).
  • Roll the greased piece into a very tight roll and unfold another section. Repeat the greasing, stretching and rolling process until you’ve used all the dough from the rolling pin.
  • As a result you should get a very tight kind of dough log (photo 20).
  • Grease it all over with remaining lard/butter, cover with a plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or better yet overnight.
    TIP: If you are short on time you can place it in the freezer for about an hour.

Prepare the cream

  • In a stove-top pot add milk, salt and sugar. Stir well and bring the mixture to boil.
    NOTE: if you don’t have full ricotta this is the step where you add butter too.
  • Constantly stirring slowly add semolina. Continue whisking to avoid formation of the lumps and cook for 3 minutes. Let cool completely.
  • In a food processor add cooked semolina, ricotta and an egg. Beat until you get smooth and even texture. If you don’t have a food processor just use a hand-hold or standing mixer.
  • Add candied oranges, cinnamon, vanilla extract and orange blossom water.
    Mix with a whisk and set aside.

How To Shape Sfogliatelle

  • Take the sfogliatelle dough log out of the fridge and while it’s still covered with a plastic wrap gently but firmly squeeze and stretch it with your hands going from the center towards the sides (photos 21, 22),
  • Remove the plastic wrap and cut off uneven side of the log, then cut into approx ¾ inch or a little less (1.5-2cm) slices (photos 23, 24).
  • To form the sfogliatelle cone, take a dough slice and start gently working it with your fingers.Using your thumbs and a rotating motion push the center of the slice out opening up dough layers and forming a cone shape (photos 25-28).
    Be careful not to push the layers too much apart, you still want them to stay together.

How To Stuff Sfogliatelle

  • Holding sfogliatella in one hand fill the cavity of the cone with ricotta cream (photo 29).
    IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure to fill with enough cream so that sfogliatella stays full and puffy. If the cream is not enough it’ll simply flatten out in the oven.
  • Put together the edges of the opening as you can.
    They don’t have to be perfectly sealed. The cream is thick enough to hold in the pastry (photo 30).
    Place sfogliatelle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (photo 31).
  • Preheat the oven to 392F (200C).
    Bake sfogliatelle in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  • Serve warm generously dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
sfogliatelle dusted with confectioners sugar on a white plate

If you have any leftover filling, make these Lazy Sfogliatelle using just puff pastry and a knife!

Can I make Sfogliatelle in advance?

Absolutely! In fact, I strongly recommend you do so. You can make them weeks and even up to 3 months in advance. Store uncooked sfogliatelle in the freezer following the instructions below.

How long do Sfogliatelle last?

Sfogliatelle taste the best the day they’re made due to delicate cream filling and the layered crunchy pastry.
If not consumed the same day the moist filling will soften the crunchy shell. Sfogliatella will not go bad to say, but it will loose its characteristic crunchiness, but you can still reheat them the next day.
They should be consumed within 2 days.

How to store Sfogliatelle?

Cooked sfogliatelle can be store them in a closed container in the fridge and reheat in the oven before serving. This way they’ll get back the crunchiness on the outside and warm delicious filling inside. However if you prepare sfogliatelle in advance it’s best to freeze them uncooked.

Can you freeze Sfogliatelle?

Absolutely! To freeze sfogliatelle stuff them with cream and place on a tray lined with parchment paper slightly distanced apart. Place in the freezer. Once they are frozen you can transfer them in a zip-lock plastic bag and pop back in the freezer.

How to cook frozen sfogliatelle?

Place frozen sofgliatelle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let them thaw for about an hour. Then bake in a preheated to 375F (180C) oven for 25-30 minutes until nice golden brown.

Top Tips For Success

  • Make sure to use high protein bread flour.
  • Start adding water slowly. Add a little extra only if there’s dry flour left on the bottom of the bowl. Sfogliatelle dough SHOULD be crumbly after first kneading.
  • Don’t skip resting time. The dough should rest 3 times: after first kneading (30 minutes) , after rolling through pasta machine (2 hours or more) and lastly once greased with lard (at least 3 hours in the fridge or even better overnight). Skipping any of the resting time will compromise the dough structure.
  • Use cooking lard. You can get high quality lard easily at the grocery store or online. While it’s technically possible to use butter, the result will be a far cry from the original. There’s the reason why authentic Neapolitan Sfogliatelle recipe calls for lard!
  • If possible make sfogliatelle dough the day before. You’ll have a better dough and more energy to finish making them the next day. If you want you can also make a filling the day before serving them. This way the next day all you have to do it shape, fill sfogliatelle with creamy and bake.

Sfogliatelle Ricce vs Sfogliatelle Frolle

Neapolitan sfogliatelle nowadays are found of two kinds: riccia (meaning “curly”) and frolla (from the Italian name for shortbread, “pasta frolla”, where “frolla” literally means “fazed”).

They differ both in form and texture.

Sfogliatella riccia is more similar to the original one, assuming the one made by nuns in Conca dei marmi actually was a sort of puff pastry.

Riccia’s fan shape is obtained by forming a pocket from a reel of extremely thinly rolled dough whose centre is pushed out with fingers. That’s why sfogliatella unrolls like streamers when you eat it.

Sfogliatella frolla, as the name suggests, is made of shortbread and can also come in oval or round shape.

The dough is soft and not crunchy at all. It melts in the mouth because the filling keeps it slightly moist, especially a few hours after baking. The taste of the crust is similar to a slightly sweet shortbread crust.

Deciding which is the best is somehow like deciding if you love mum or dad the most.

The crunchiness of sfogliatella riccia paired with velvety citrusy ricotta filling is unforgettable. It’s this contrast that makes sfogliatella riccia an experience rather than just a dessert.

On the other hand, sfogliatella frolla is so reassuring, allowing you to give a larger bite without crumbling too much, and to fill your mouth with a soft triumph of sweetened ricotta cheese and delicate orange scent.

How Sfogliatella Was Born – Story

According to the story, which is surprisingly univocal for an Italian dish, sfogliatelle were invented by a nun in the Santa Rosa monastery on the Amalfi riviera, back in the XVI century. 

She noticed some left semolina, that had already been cooked in milk, so she decided to flavour it with other ingredients and to make some sort of cake, not to throw away something that could not be preserved.

She added dried fruit – a common ingredient to add sweetness at the times refined sugar was not available – and a lemon-scented liqueur that we are allowed to assume was similar to nowadays limoncello.

She then wrapped it all in puff pastry and baked it.

The story tells the sfogliatella, whose shape at first meant to resemble a monk’s hood, was offered to peasants of the village of Conca dei Marmi, where the monastery of Santa Rosa da Lima is still found, as a compensation for the foods they used to bring to the nuns.

Soon sfogliatelle became a beloved pastry and precious trade goods.

It is not clear how he did it exactly, but the story goes on by saying that in the XIX century a certain Pasquale Pintauro from Naples acquired the receipt, jealously kept secret by the monastery until then.

At that time, Pintauro was actually an innkeeper, but nowadays he is remembered as a pastry chef and his name is definitely linked to sfogliatella.

He converted his tavern into a pastry shop and started selling sfogliatelle, with some slight amendments to the recipe.

It’s allegedly Pasquale Pintauro the one to whom we now owe the two main kinds of sfogliatelle: riccia e frolla.

This Sfogliatelle recipe was originally published on February 25th, 2018. It has been updated with more helpful information and new photos.

Full Recipe

sfogliatelle dusted with confectioners sugar on a white plate
3.67 from 6 votes

Sfogliatelle Ricce – Authentic Recipe Step By Step

Sfogliatelle is an iconic dessert made of super thin layers of crunchy dough filled with delicious orange and cinnamon flavored ricotta cream.
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time25 minutes
Resting Time6 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Sfogliatelle Dough:

  • 3 ½ cup bread flour (500 grams)
  • ¾ cup water (180-200 grams) always start with less
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 6 oz cooking lard (best) or butter (170 grams)

Sfogliatelle Cream:

Instructions

Preparing the dough

  • Add flour and salt in a mixing bowl, give a stir, add honey and lukewarm water. Mix well with your hands or in a stand mixer until you get a slightly crumbly dough.
    Make sure all flour is mixed in. If there’s still lots of dry flour left at the borron of the bowl, add a tablespoon or two of water to make all the flour come together. There’s no need to make a smooth ball of dough, if fact, don’t do it! Even if the temptation is strong leave the dough crumbly, it’ll all come together later in the process.
    Cover the dough with a plastic wrap or linen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
    3 ½ cup bread flour, ¾ cup water, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp salt
  • Past that time divide the dough in 3-4 parts. Take one part and keep the rest of the dough covered to prevent it from drying.
    Pass the first part of the dough through pasta machine on the widest setting. On Marcato Altas it’s setting “0 ”.
    Fold it over on itself, rotate and pass again on the same thickness setting until you get a sheet of dough without holes and relatively smooth.
    Repeat the same process with the rest of the dough.Stack all dough pieces together and wrap in a plastic wrap. Let rest for 2 hours at room temperature.
  • Once the dough has rested roll each piece with a rolling pin to flatten it out and help fit the widest setting on your pasta machine.
    You can connect all dough pieces together or divide them in two, which is easiesr. If needed pass the dough on the same setting several times repeating the folding process, until you get a smooth and even sheet.
    Then set the regulating knob of the pasta machine to the next setting (setting 1) and pass it again. Continue increasing thickness (thinness) setting until you get to the thinnest sheet possible (setting 7-8 on Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine).
    You’ll need to pass the dough just once on that last thickness setting.
    Sfogliatelle - Step 2
  • When you start passing the dough on the last (thinnest) setting stop the machine a couple of times as the dough sheet comes through and roll it up onto the rolling pin.
    The ends (handles) of the rolling pin should be settled between two water bottles or soup bowls (or flour sacks) to prevent the dough from touching the table.
  • Repeat the same process with the remaining dough chunks. At the end you should get a sheet pastry approx 15 feet long and 5-6 inches wide rolled over the rolling pin.
    Keep the dough covered with a plastic wrap until you move to the next step.
    Sfogliatelle - Step 3
  • Prepare lard at room temperature or melted butter.
    Start to unfold sfogliatelle sheets from the rolling pin.
  • Extend the dough sheet over a clean work surface and grease it thoroughly with lard/butter making sure you smear well the edges as well.
    6 oz cooking lard (best)
  • Place your hands underneath the dough and gently stretch it outwards elongating it to approx. 7-8 inches wide.
  • Roll the greased piece into a very tight roll and unfold another section. Repeat the greasing, stretching and rolling process until you’ve used all the dough from the rolling pin.
  • As a result you should get a very tight kind of dough log. Grease it all over with remaining lard/butter, cover with a plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or better yet overnight.
    Sfogliatelle - Step 4
  • In the meantime prepare the cream.

Preparing the cream:

  • In a stove-top pot add milk, butter (see notes), salt and sugar. Stir well and bring the mixture to boil.
    2 cups milk, ½ cup sugar, ¼ tsp salt, 2 oz butter
  • Constantly stirring slowly add semolina. Continue whisking to avoid formation of the lumps and cook for 3 minutes. Let cool completely.
    ¾ cup semolina flour
  • In a food processor add cooked semolina, ricotta and an egg. Beat until well combined. If you don’t have a food processor just use a hand-hold or standing mixer.
    1 lb full fat ricotta cheese, 1 egg
  • Add candied oranges, cinnamon, vanilla extract and orange blossom water.
    Mix with a whisk and set in the fridge until ready to use.
    ¼ cup candied orange peel, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp orange blossom water

Shaping & Baking Sfogliatelle

  • Take the sfogliatelle dough log out of the fridge and while it’s still covered with a plastic wrap gently but firmly squeeze and stretch it with your hands going from the center towards the sides.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and cut off uneven sides of the log, then cut into approx ¾ inch (1.5-2 cm) thick slices.
    Sfogliatelle - Step 5
  • To form the sfogliatelle cone, take a dough slice and start gently working it with your fingers.Using your thumbs and a rotating motion push the center of the slice out opening up dough layers and forming a cone shape. Be careful not to push the layers too much apart, you still want them to stay together.
    Sfogliatelle - Step 6
  • Holding sfogliatella in one hand fill the cavity of the cone with ricotta cream. Make sure to fill with enough cream so that sfogliatelle stay full and puffy. If the cream is not enough they’ll simply flatten out in the oven.
  • Put together the edges of the opening as you can, they don’t have to be perfectly sealed. The cream is thick enough to hold in the pastry.
    Place sfogliatelle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 392F (200C).
    Bake sfogliatelle in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  • Serve warm generously dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

Notes

If you cannot find full fat ricotta use the best quality ricotta you can find and add butter to the pot together with milk as indicated in the recipe.
Liked this recipe?Follow @italianrecipeb for more!
sfogliatella napoletana

Buon Appetito!

Recipe Rating




Diana

Thursday 24th of March 2022

These were great! Definitely labor intensive but they taste just like the ones I got in Naples. One question… I have a lot of filling left. Can I freeze it?

Amelia

Tuesday 25th of January 2022

Hello, thank you for your beautiful recipe instructions. Would you be able to tell me about how many Sfogliatelle can be made using this full recipe? Approximately, how many small size From s recipe and how many of the larger size from this recipe? Would you say that the ones that you are showing in your photos are the large size? How many of those size were you able to produce with this full recipe, please? Regarding size I’m thinking about what you typically see in the bakery as a small size and as the large size. Thank you again for all of your beautiful Italian recipes. I’m so happy to have found your site!

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Tuesday 26th of October 2021

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Eva

Monday 6th of September 2021

So much work in writing that post! Congratulations

Italian Recipe Book

Monday 20th of September 2021

Thank you Eva Sfogliatelle recipe requires some work and I feel that giving the most extensive step by step process is essential for success.

Irene

Friday 4th of June 2021

Tried your recipe. The instructions were easy to follow. Had a problem with the dough being sticky. When I put it on the rolling pin was so sticky I had a hard time getting it off. Any suggestions.