And how the heck do you pronounce them? Let’s take the second part first. When I’ve heard Italian nationals pronounce the word, it sounds a lot like it’s spelled: sfo-lee-ah-TELL-ay. Of course over on this side of the pond Italian-Americans have their own ideas about it. Sfwee-ah-DELL-ay is how I mostly hear it pronounced back home in Chicago. Who knows which one is correct? Neither. Both. Hell they probably say it completely differently in Philadelphia.
Anyway. In practical terms, sfogliatelle are a type of laminated pastry, made with disks of tightly rolled, well-lubricated dough that are pushed out like paper yo-yo’s into pockets, then filled. Of course the disks of dough are a lot wider than the diameter of a Chinese paper yo-yo, but the mechanics are the same.
The laminating technique you use to create these pastry rolls is fairly simple: you stretch out a piece of dough on a table top like you would a sheet of strudel dough, brush a fat like butter or (more traditionally) lard over then sheet, then roll it up. You cut it into slices and you’re ready to start shaping and filling your sfogliatelle, or your lobster tails, or your Murcian meat pies, as the same technique is used to create all of them.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been wanting to try this for a while now but have yet to work up the courage. The more I learn about it, however, the less intimidating it seems. We’ll see when the dough hits the tabletop though, won’t we?