Updated: Nov 9, 2021
The pasticciotto is a typical dessert of the Salento area in Puglia, consisting of shortcrust pastry filled with custard and baked in the oven.
Legend has it that it was invented by Andrea Ascalone, a pastry chef from Galatina who lived in the mid-eighteenth century. The recipe, as often happens, seems to have been born by chance: by baking custard and scraps of leftover shortcrust pastry, shaped inside small copper molds, Ascalone created a particular dessert, according to him not very harmonious, a "mess", which instead the others liked it very much, thus becoming the ancestor of the modern pasticciotto.
“Some believe that it should be consumed still hot or lukewarm, to better savor all the best organoleptic characteristics of the cream and freshly baked shortcrust pastry. However, the quality of a pasticciotto depends on its integral artisan preparation and as such it can also be appreciated at room temperature.”
It was the end of June 1745, and the patronal feast of St. Peter and Paul was celebrated in the town. Today, the pastry chest (with lard in the dough, according to tradition) that contains a heart of custard has become the sweet symbol of Salento; and from 2020 the Lecce pasticciotto can also boast an official anniversary, which falls on the first day of June. National day, which highlights how the Salento dolcetto is now known and appreciated throughout the Peninsula.
Its sweet variations
The original shape is oval, but the variations of the Salento pasticciotto are not lacking. For example, another of the best known is the Neapolitan one, filled with the usual cream, but combined with black cherry. On the market there are also pasticciotti with chocolate, with jam, with custard and also with gianduia.
Where to taste it if not in Lecce? In the heart of the city, Alvino is a historic address located in Piazza Sant’Oronzo, very popular with the people of Lecce. It serves excellent coffees and cappuccinos, accompanied by traditional yeasts and sweets: here, from the morning, you can find fresh pasticciotti both in the classic version - with cream only - and in delicious variations, such as the one with cereals and figs.