Petrali

Calabrian Pastries

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes About

    20

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

To make these traditional pastries, the filling must be left for 12 hours before baking to allow the flavours to develop. Versions of these simple yet extremely rich pastries are found all over Calabria. It is quite likely that they were originally created in convents, where the nuns would busy themselves by preparing vast quantities to sell to the locals. In some parts of the region they are a traditional Christmas treat, but petrali are also made to celebrate St Martin’s Day in summer, when they are known as pitte di San Martino.

Ingredients

  • 500 g/1 lb/ cups plain/all-purpose white flour
  • 2 small/US medium egg yolks
  • 75 g/2 oz/¼ cup lard or white cooking fat/shortening, diced
  • 100 g/4 oz/scant ½ cup sugar scant
  • 40 ml/ tbsp sweet vermouth
  • 3 ½ ml/¾ tsp baking powder
  • 7.5 ml/ tsp olive oil
  • icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

For the Filling

  • 400 g/14 oz/2⅓ cups dried figs
  • 400 g/14 oz/2⅓ cups whole blanched almonds
  • 400 g/14 oz/2⅓ cups walnut halves
  • 400 g/14 oz/ cups clear honey
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp ground cloves
  • 50 ml/2 fl oz/¼ cup sweet dessert wine

For the Icing (Optional)

  • 135 ml/9 tbsp icing/confectioners’ sugar
  • multicoloured sugar strands

Method

  1. Start by making the filling. Cut the dried figs into quarters and put them in a pan. Slice the almonds in half and add them to the pan with the walnut halves, honey, spices and wine. Stir over a low heat for 10 minutes.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and set aside for 12 hours.
  3. To make the dough, put the flour on to a clean work top and make a hollow in the middle with your fist.

  4. Put the egg yolks, lard or cooking fat, sugar, vermouth, baking powder and olive oil into the hollow. Mix together, gradually incorporating all of the surrounding flour to make a dough.
  5. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, but do not overwork it. Cover with clear film or plastic wrap and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to a thickness of 5mm/¼in. Using a 10-12cm/4-5in pastry cutter or upturned glass, cut it into rounds.
  7. Spoon a little of the fig and nut mixture over one half of each round and fold over to make miniature pasties. Seal the edges carefully by pressing them together with the prongs of a fork. Alternatively, top the round with the fruit and nut mixture, leaving the pastry rim clear, and cover with a pastry lattice.

  8. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Arrange the petrali on lightly oiled baking sheets. Bake them for 10-15 minutes, until pale golden.
  9. Transfer them on to wire racks to cool completely.
  10. Sprinkle the petrali with icing sugar. Alternatively, mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thick, spreadable paste and spread the icing over the petrali. If you like you could also sprinkle them with multicoloured sugar strands before the icing sets.