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Sfogliatine alla confettura, the Italian jam puffs
Enjoying breakfast at the local café as a way to reclaim freedom | Reproducing that breakfast at home | The recipe for the Italian jam puffs, just like those you eat at your favourite café
After the most severe and heartbreaking months (or should I say years) of Covid, once the vaccines made me feel slightly more confident, and once we resumed an apparently normal life made of cooking classes, nursery school, and sporadic dinners with friends, I found myself with a brand new life. I had to learn how to be a mum, but mostly, I had found myself incapable of properly enjoying life without this looming sense of catastrophe. It was as if even a simple moment of carefree enjoyment could be swept away by a resurgence of Covid cases, a new variant, a criminal war, a climatic threat.
I noticed how dramatic the effects of the past two years had been on me the first time I sat at a table at our local café with an espresso and a cornetto. I could feel tears spring to my eyes: an activity I had barely considered before Covid was now a source of unprecedented joy. I would never give that freedom for granted anymore.
Since then, enjoying a slow breakfast with a macchiato coffee and a pastry in a local café is one of my favourite ways to reclaim my freedom, to intentionally spend my time in a pleasurable activity.
Livia’s sheer joy in drinking her own watered-down orzo (barley coffee) while munching on a large croissant is yet another reason to appreciate those moments.
What if we cannot make it to the café?
I know it sounds like a contradiction, but I learnt to reproduce that feeling at home, changing the pace of our breakfast, swapping yoghurt and granola for something sweet, something I would gladly have while sitting at the corner table in our favourite café.
During the week, our breakfasts are hectic, messy, interspersed with recurring phrases such as: come on, Livia eat that cookie, careful not to spill the barley coffee on you, and, most commonly, Livia, it's late.
That's why when the weekend kicks in, we indulge ourselves with a slower breakfast, one that looks exactly like the breakfast we would enjoy in our favourite coffee shop.
Along with a cup of steaming coffee and a dash of milk, appear the Italian croissants, or sometimes sfogliatine. At the café, sfogliatine, jam-filled pockets of puff pastry, lure me with their caramelized, sticky, crispy crust.
At home, I bake them quite often because they are incredibly easy to make, especially if you substitute a properly made puff pastry for a faster pie dough, a better choice for these hot days. Yes, a properly made puff pastry would definitely work better, but this pie dough is just magic.
My quick and easy pied dough
I already shared this recipe for pie dough on the blog a couple of years ago. I found the recipe a few years ago on a booklet entirely dedicated to pies, Bubby’s Homemade Pies, and, since then, it is what I make every time I need a quick pastry, both for sweet and savoury pies. I shared how I got to the final result in this letter last year.
Obviously, it is not a puff pastry, but when you do not have time to make it, or the chance to buy a ready-made one, this is the ideal solution. Moreover, compared to a store-bought puff pastry dough, it is way cheaper and made with the shortest ingredient list: flour, butter, and salt. You make it, you know what goes inside.
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Sfogliatine alla confettura - Jam puffs, just like those from your favourite café
These homemade jam puffs keep well and fragrant for a few days, bringing even to Monday the illusion of the calmness of our weekend breakfast.
Other traditional fillings include cooked apples, a thick pastry cream, or rice pudding (as in this recipe in the blog archive). Which one would you prefer?
If you need to print this recipe to keep it in your kitchen and use it for scribbling down your notes, you find the printable PDF below and you can print just odd pages to avoid photos and save ink.
Makes 10 sfogliatine
Ingredients for the pie dough:
250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
160 g (5⅔ oz) butter, cold
100 ml (½ cup) ice-cold water
Ingredients to make the sfogliatine:
Your favourite jam
The day before, make the pie dough.
Add the flour with the salt to a large bowl, then add the butter. Coat the stick of butter with flour in the bowl, then using a bench scraper cut the butter lengthwise in half, then lengthwise in quarters, coating each newly cut side in flour.
Dice the butter and cover each piece in flour, then with a pastry cutter press the mixture as you would mash potatoes.
Add the ice-cold water little by little and mix quickly with your hands just enough to create a ball of dough. Work the dough as little as possible. There will be pieces of butter and flour, it’s ok.
Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours, better overnight.
The day after, it is time to work on the dough again.
With the help of the rolling pin and some flour, roll out the dough so that it could triple its length, keeping the same width.
Now make a three-fold: mentally divide the dough into three equal parts and fold the right part on the middle side, then the left one. Seal the edges by pinching the dough together.
Rotate the dough, keeping the folds on the sides, and roll out again the dough in a rectangle sheet so that it quadruples its length, keeping the same width.
Now is the time to give a four-fold: mentally divide the dough into four equal parts and fold the two outer parts into the two parts inside. Fold again to close the dough like a book. Seal the edges by pinching the dough together.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for about one hour.
Now make the sfogliatine.
Dust with flour the working surface and, with the help of a rolling pin, roll out the pastry dough into a 40x25 cm (15 by 10 inch) rectangle.
Brush the dough to remove excess flour and roll it up on itself on the long side, then cut it into 4 cm/1½ inch thick rolls.
Clean your working surface and sprinkle it generously with sugar, then line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Roll out each roll cut side up in the sugar until you get a 3mm/⅛inch thick oval. Make sure it is well coated with sugar on both sides.
Place a spoonful of jam on the bottom half of the oval, then fold the top half of the pastry over the jam. Seal the edges by pressing them together.
Transfer the pastry to the baking tray, and repeat until completed.
Loosely cover the pastries with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
Remove the plastic wrap and transfer the baking trays to the oven. Bake the pastries for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and caramelized on the bottom.
Enjoy them warm or cold, accompanied by a coffee or cappuccino.