Recipe by Michele DeLeo - Images by Giuseppe Aversa
We talked to chef Michele DeLeo who is ‘excited about the amazing quality of the products we have here in Campania. And that’s important. Because, for a good chef to make a difference, he must cook what he loves, and prepare each dish as if he were going to eat it himself...’
He suggested how to prepare crema pasticciera, add an apple mixture and fill delicious pastries called fagotti (literally "little bags").
For the pastry
500g plain flour; 10g salt; 200ml water;
500g hard margarine or shortening.
For the crema pasticciera
200g milk; 75g vanilla sugar;
50g rice flour; 1 egg;
skin of 1/2 lemon.
For the apple mixture
150g of apples or pears, cut into small slices knob of butter;
50g sugar; splash of Calvados;
100g raisins; 100g pine nuts cinnamon;
1/2 tsp vanilla essence.
To make the pastry, mix the flour and the salt. Add the water and mix until you have a pliable dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead gently, and spread the dough into a large rectangle. On top of the dough, spread pieces of softened margarine or shortening.
Fold the dough in three, bringing the top third down to the centre and the bottom third up to cover the other layers. Leave dough to rest in a cool place for 1/2 hour. Repeat the folding process another three times, which takes a total of 2 hours.
Meanwhile prepare the crema pasticciera. Mix the milk, sugar, rice flour and egg together well, and place in a pan with the lemon peel. Place over a gentle heat and stir the mixture until it cooks and thickens – about 20-25 minutes. Discard lemon peel. Allow the cream to cool. In a small frying pan melt the butter and fry the sliced apple or pear, adding the sugar and the Calvados. Cook until the fruit begins to soften (5-7 minutes).
Mix the crema pasticciera with the apple mixture, the raisins, the pine nuts, the vanilla essence and a pinch of cinnamon.
To assemble, roll out the pastry and cut into squares. In the centre of each square, place a spoonful of the cream mixture, then pinch the corners of the square together to form a little pouch. Transfer to a baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes or so (it depends on the size of the fagotti) at 1800C.
Serve hot with ice cream, and a homemade custard sauce.
Michele DeLeo works at the renowned restaurant ‘Il Buco’ in Sorrento.
He has cooked for Heads of State at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, at the G7 conference in Naples, for the UNESCO conference at the Royal Palace in Naples, holds gold and silver medals from the 1996 European cooking championships in Salzburg and a bronze medal from the world Cooking Olympics in Berlin in 1996. He has also been elected to represent the region of Campania and its ‘Cucina Calda’ in all international competitions until the end of 2004.