Pasticciotto Leccese – The Pastry of Southern Puglia

Italian Enthusiasts know that every community in Italy comes with not only its own vernacular, but also its own pastry.  For me, when visiting the provinces and towns of Italy, I am always equally as enthusiastic to visit the ancient churches as I am to taste the typical desserts, sometimes dating back hundreds of years.  In southern Puglia, it is no different.  In just about all of the bakeries, bars, coffee shops and restaurants in the province of Lecce, a local pastry called Pasticciotto Leccese is sold, and the best part – they are buonissimo!

Pasticcioto Leccese
Pasticciotto Leccese - The Final Product

The history of these custard-filled pastries dates back to the 1700s when they were invented by a man named Andrea Ascalone in a small and important town in the province of Lecce called Galatina.  In fact, one of the most famous bakeries in all of Lecce where the pastries can be purchased is called Ascalone, in the actual town of Galatina.

Pasticceria Ascalone
Pasticceria Ascalone, Galatina, Italy
Pasticceria Ascalone
Inside Pasticceria Ascalone, Galatina, Italy

During my most recent trip to Puglia a couple months ago, I visited another famous bakery called Panificio Caroppo in the small town of Specchia Gallone, which is a division of a slightly larger town called Minervino di Lecce.  At Panificio Caroppo, I took a class offered by the baker on how to make this special pastry.  Please see the YouTube video below where our tour guide, Anita, translates and explains how this pastry is made.

The video and photos above show the traditional Pasticciotto Leccese, but there have developed slight variations of the pastry throughout the years.  One variation is called the Pasticciotto Obama, or just simple the Obama.  During Barack Obama’s US presidency while visiting Italy, a baker in Lecce created the Pasticciotto Obama specifically to deliver to Obama in Rome as a sign of honor.  The pastry is the same shape as the traditional Pasticciotto Leccese, but it is made with chocolate, and filled with chocolate cream.  Today, the Pasticciotto Obama is commonplace throughout southern Puglia, and a favorite to a lot of Leccese.

Pasticciotto
My first Pasticciotto, which according to the baker, was one of the most delicious he had ever tasted
Pasticciotto
All done with the formation. Now we paint the pastry with egg before placing it in the oven.

The Pasticciotti (plural form), are not only eaten for breakfast, but people eat them throughout the day, and they are best when served warm.  For anyone visiting southern Puglia, the visit cannot be complete unless the Pasticciotto Leccese is experienced.  In fact, whenever I visit southern Puglia, the very first thing I do is eat a nice Pasticciotto.  I hope everyone can experience the taste of this delicious pastry.

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