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Tray with freshly baked pasticciotti leccesi

The authentic Lecce-style pasticciotto

Sinking your teeth into its fragrant shortcrust pastry to reach the rich and creamy custard is a heavenly experience hard to forget. We're talking about the "pasticciotto", the dessert that has been synonymous with Salento for almost 300 years: no vacation in the Salento peninsula can be considered complete without tasting this little treasure of goodness at least once!

The pasticciotto recipe

If, alas, you don't have the opportunity to go to Salento and enjoy this delightful dessert in its place of origin, you can still get in the kitchen and prepare it directly at home with the recipe from our Cesarina Francesca.

The origins of the "pasticciotto leccese"

These ovoid-shaped sweets prepared in special copper molds were born almost by chance in 1745 in Galatina, in the province of Lecce. It seems that the Salento pastry chef Andrea Ascalone invented them. The story goes that Ascalone's pastry shop was not doing well due to various debts he had incurred. So, in an attempt to improve the fate of his business, Ascalone spent his days in the pastry laboratory experimenting with new recipes. One day he found himself with custard and scraps of shortcrust pastry from previous preparations: those leftovers were not enough to make another cake, however, instead of throwing them away, he decided to combine them in small molds to make small cakes. However the result was below expectations, in short - a mess (“pasticcio”, in Italian), and Ascalone decided to get rid of those improvised sweets by donating them to Don Silvestro, the parish priest of the village, who visited the pastry chef every morning.

Ingredients for the pasticciotto: eggs, butter, and flour

But that encounter with Don Silvestro was the turning point for the fate of the pastry shop: astonished by the goodness of those kind of tartlets filled with cream, the priest became, as we would say today, the best promoter of the new creation. And since in small towns rumors spread quickly, soon the pasticciotti were on everyone's lips (and in their mouths).

Even today, the Ascalone family passes down from generation to generation the original recipe (which, mind you, includes lard and not butter to knead the shortcrust pastry), so if you find yourself in Lecce, go for a walk in their shop in Galatina, where you can taste what seems to be the best pasticciotto in the world.

The success of the pasticciotto is far from fading: today the city of Lecce has recognized it as a typical dessert and it is included in the national list of traditional agri-food products drawn up by the "Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies".

Preparation of the cream with a whisk

Variants of the pasticciotto

As happens with all successful dishes, over time variants have been invented that differ from the original version while maintaining its main characteristic: deliciousness! The most well-known variant is the Neapolitan pasticciotto, which combines custard with sour cherries. But there are many other options: with ricotta and pistachios, chocolate, with gianduia cream, or with jam. The choice is yours!

Cooking classes in Salento

But Salento is not only synonymous with pasticciotti. Discover the typical culinary treasures of this wonderful region with the best Apulian cooking courses that Cesarine has prepared for you: recchiette, scapece gallipolina, pittule, puccia and frisa salentina (and much more) will no longer have secrets!

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