One of the symbols of the culinary tradition in Lecce is the Pasticciotto. It is a single-serving cake made from shortcrust pastry, usually oval, with a filling of crema – similar to a thick egg custard. The dough is traditionally made with lard, although butter is becoming a frequent variation; while the crema – which can be prepared in its basic version or flavored with lemon – is sometimes replaced with different fillings such as almond paste with a layer of quince jam, or crema with sour black cherries jam. Whether in its most traditional version, or in one of the most modern and creative ones, the best way to enjoy Pasticciotto is when it is still warm, preferably within two hours since it was baked.
It is impossible to locate the origins of the Pasticciotto with certainty, but the most culturally rooted legend places them in the patisserie owned by the Ascalone family in Galatina. In 1745, the pastry chef, while experimenting with new recipes to revive the fortunes of his shop, ended up with leftovers of pastry and crema that were not enough to make a whole cake. Because he did not want to waste them, he made a kind of stuffed dumpling which had an enormous success.
The name Pasticiottto – hash – would have been chosen to define the new invention created by the union of the two leftovers. The importance that this recipe acquired over time in the Salento’s culinary tradition, has decreed its inclusion, in 1998, in the Elenco dei Prodotti Agroalimentari Tradizionali – list of traditional food preparations. Indeed, there is no town of the province of Lecce in which you can not find the traditional Pasticciotto.
Delia Lo Calzo