La Fornarina

14 Mar

You simply can’t travel to Lecce, Italy, and not taste a pasticciotto. This sensational sweet is made by stuffing a shortcrust pastry with the thickest, most delicious custard. The end result is crispy on the outside, but melts in your mouth on the inside. Cafes and bars almost always have pasticciotto on display to eat standing up at the bar with your quick morning expresso or machiatto.

But cafes and bars are not pasticcierias (pastry shops.) One morning we went out in search of a place that bakes the pasticciotto that’s sold in those bars and cafes. We found La Fornarina di Sporare Daniele on a side street near Porta Napoli, one of the three original gates to the old city of Lecce.

People of the neighborhood were passing in and out of the door as we entered to cases filled with pastries we’d never seen before. Butter cream balls topped with chocolate sprinkles sat cheek and jowl with glistening cornetto and brioche. Sugar dusted buns stuffed with raisins, tiramisu, cannoli, biscotti, panforte and genoise were arranged pan after pan.

The owner of the shop gestured to us to give us a sweet and ask us (with hand signals) if we were “inglese.” Then she called her baker out of the back to translate. After a bit of back and forth he moved into the kitchen and began to work on some Pasticiotto Lechese, the custard pie of Lecce.

When you bite into a pasticciotto it is a sugar explosion. You feel your heart beat faster from the sugar rush. The custard is creamy and smooth and the pastry flakes into your palm…absolutely perfect with a shot of bitter expresso in the morning.

10 Responses to “La Fornarina”

  1. Barbara Werren March 15, 2022 at 9:30 pm #

    Your writing makes it sound so delicious! My mouth is watering! Molte grazie!

  2. Terrence Murphy March 14, 2022 at 4:57 pm #

    Did I just die and ascended to Pastry Heaven? Terry

  3. Maryl March 14, 2022 at 2:04 pm #

    Love that they wrap your purchase as a gift from sugar heaven! Also, what a treat to be able to go behind the scenes to see how the pastries are made. Both of you are such good ambassadors from the US that the locals want to share their story with you even when the language is more head and hand gestures than words!

    • Jill and Dana March 14, 2022 at 3:25 pm #

      Yes, definitely more head and hands and feet if that helped.

  4. Derek Simmons March 14, 2022 at 12:52 pm #

    Your tale and accompanying photos gave me a faux rush sans sugar. Thanks

    • Jill and Dana March 14, 2022 at 1:04 pm #

      And with the pasticciotto an expresso with 2 to 3 spoonfuls of sugar is de rigueur.

      • Sue March 14, 2022 at 4:53 pm #

        Do they post them to the US?!

      • Jill and Dana March 14, 2022 at 5:20 pm #

        Yes, signed with amore.

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