What are sfogliatelle?

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?

17 thoughts on “What are sfogliatelle?”

  1. Is this rolling technique similar to the one used for the Chinese scallion pancakes? I haven’t made them, but was so intrigued by the technique of rolling thin, filling the sheet then curling the dough into a spiral and rolling out to a pancake. I would have tried them except I’m roll-phobic ! (I can do it, but I hate doing it!)

    1. Hey Susan! I’m told that the FDA is in the process of approving some new medications that have proven effective in managing rollophobia, so there’s hope for you and others like you who suffer from this affliction. In the meantime I encourage you to fight it through sheer force of will, and by making your own filo dough!

      As far as the pancakes go, this technique isn’t terribly similar, but I’m with you in that I love those things!!


      – Joe

      1. I wish I had looked up the recipe for this before I jumped in with my (stupid) question. Geez..the pancake technique is not even close! I can hardly wait to see how these turn out. If anyone can do this, it’s you, Joe. I’ll be waiting for those meds…

    1. I have no idea, Brian, however if there are any Sicilians reading, please weigh in!

      – Joe

      1. Sfogliatelle are from Naples area, anyway it’s just Italian.
        It may sound something like that: sfo-lli (something like lli in “million”) – a (like the a in “father”)- te (open e like e in “bet”)-lle (same open e).

  2. I seem to recall the Cake Boss guy saying that executing this recipe has reduced grown men to tears. This should be interesting!

    1. Way to build me up, Susan. And just when I was getting my nerve.


      – Joe

      1. I didn’t mean to discourage you! My little girl loved watching Cake Boss years ago, and gave me the first cookbook he published, and there is a recipe for the…lobster claw pastries in there. He seems to be the real deal as far as being a pastry chef goes, and I can e-mail you the recipe if you would like to look it over and compare it to what you have on hand.

        1. Hey Susan!

          Just teasing of course. There are a lot of recipes out there so I think I’m covered…but thanks!

          – Joe

      2. Cake boss? Meh! He was probably just reading from the script as he was told to.

  3. When I had to look them up because I had never heard of them I found that wikipedia offers this pronunciation: sf???a?t?lle

    So I still have no idea how to pronounce it!

    1. I need to learn linguist language just to figure that out. Learning Italian might be easier.

      – Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *