Crescia sfogliata (kre-sha sfo-lee-ata)
is a kind of strudel. Pierina - one of the many nonne
(grandmothers) that Vicky Bennison has profiled in her new cookbook entitled Pasta Grannies - remembers her grandmother making it, so this Marche region recipe is well over a century old. It is an Austro-Hungarian inspired dessert that keeps really well, so once you have made it you can nibble on it over the span of a week (if you can resist)
If you would like the full story on Pierina and this lovely sweet, you will find her and many other lovely grannies in the the official cookbook.
SERVINGS : 10-14
PREP TIME : 2.30 mins
LEVEL : Hard
For the dough
4 tablespoons mild tasting olive oil plus extra for brushing
200ml tepid water
1 teaspoon castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
400g 00 or plain flour
For the filling
400g fresh walnuts (it is amazing how stale shop bought walnuts can be - Pierina’s come from her garden)
100g cocoa powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon anice liqueur (or other spirit like rum)
the zest from 1 orange and 1 lemon, both unwaxed
200g sultanas, plumped up in water, then drained
6 apples, peeled and cut into walnut size pieces and then place them in water to stop discolouration. Drain and pat dry before using.
Blitz everything but the sultanas and apples until you have a rubble, not a paste. Stir through the sultanas.
To make the strudel:
** Start the day before you bake the strudel.
Beat all the ingredients except the flour together. Make a volcano with the flour, pour the liquid into the centre being careful not to let it spill over. Use a fork to incorporate the flour gradually, beating all the time until you have a rough dough. Use your hands to knead the dough until you have a soft, silky texture. Or place it all in a food mixer with a dough hook, which isn’t as much fun.
Place the dough in a lidded container and leave it in the fridge overnight. Check your fingernails - are they lustrous and long? Cut them short; this pastry will tear horribly otherwise. The next day, allow the dough to come to room temperature (still covered) for a couple of hours before you roll it out.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut some parchment paper to fit a 30cm x 40cm baking tray.
Cover a kitchen table, or central island, with a clean, brightly coloured cotton cloth. Roll your sleeves up, arm yourself with a long rolling pin - short ones will not do the job properly - and roll the dough to thin enough you can start stretching it by hand.
Once you have rolled the sheet as wide as your rolling pin, smooth it out over the cloth and gently, oh so gently, place your hands under the dough.
Use the back of your hands and the tips of your fingers to tease the dough ever thinner. Stroke it like you are soothing the creases from ancient silk. You are aiming for a nearly transparent sheet of dough through which you can clearly see the pattern beneath. The edge will tend to be thicker, so do a circuit of the pasta, pulling the outer 2 centimetres thinner. Use a pastry brush to oil the dough lightly.
Scatter the walnut mixture over the dough, leaving about a 10 centimetre margin, then follow with the apple pieces. Turn the edges over the filling. Then lift the tablecloth up and over the pasta so it rolls over itself until it reaches the halfway point. Repeat with the other side. Oil it again. Either shape it into a snail, or cut it into logs and place it on the baking tray.
Bake for 35 minutes, until the pastry is crunchy and coloured. Allow it to cool if you can, before tucking in. This keeps for several days in an airtight container.
Recipe and text from
The Pasta Grannies Cookbook