Baking cookies and different breads for Christmas is what we love to do the most! Pitta ‘Mpigliata is a typical Calabrian holiday pastry. These pretty rosettes are so festive with the colorful sprinkles.
My mother-in-law happens to be from Calabria and I have asked her about this Calabrian dessert in the past and she has told me she doesn’t make it. Pitta ‘Mpigliata could also be called pitta ‘nchiusa or pitta china, which in Calabrian dialect means “filled” or “stuffed”. They also could simply be called rosette, or little roses. You could vary the filling with raisins, currants and prunes, or just raisins, and different nuts.Our dear friend Aldo from the Cosenza region of Calabria brings us a box of these rosettes every year. He makes his Pitta ‘Mpigliata smaller and they actually could even seem like cookies, but they are pastries. Aldo has explained to me in detail how he makes his pitta, but I never baked them with him. The holidays rush by and we are lucky that he even has the time and the kind heart to bake them every year and share with us his sweet pastries. My goal was to eventually bake with him and learn how to make this.
The recipe calls for rolling out a large piece of dough that you place in the pie plate and you place the rosettes on top of this dough round. It ends up being like a cake. I instead used the extra dough and made more rosettes. I did make more filling (I doubled the filling recipe)so I could make more rosettes. I knew my kids would appreciate more pitta’s to enjoy. I also made the second batch free form on a baking tray. I’ve seen recipes there they keep the rounds together with toothpicks. There was no need to do that as they held their shape fine.
HOW TO YOU MAKE PITTA ‘MPLIGLIATA-CALABRIAN FRUIT AND NUT PASTRY?
I used my index finger to help me roll the rosette from the middle and carefully turned it around the center part. The pretty part is to have the filling sticking out, so be sure not to cover it with the dough strips. You could use apricot jam or even honey to brush on the rosettes while baking and when they are finished baking. Which makes for the ultimate Calabrian sticky bun!!
Pitta 'Mpigliata-Calabrese Fruit and Nut Pastry
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs divided
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup pitted prunes
- 1/2 cup raisins
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 Tablespoon vermouth
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves or honey
- 2 Tablespoons water
- Rainbow nonpareils for decorating
To make the dough:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the wine, olive oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix on low speed until combined. Add 2 of the eggs. Mix on low to medium speed until combined.
- Change the attachment to the dough hook. Add the flour and baking powder. Mix again on medium speed until a smooth dough comes together, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead by hand for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest while you make the filling.
To make the filling:
- In a food processor, add the walnuts, prunes, raisins, orange zest, honey, vermouth, cinnamon, and cloves. Process for 20 to 30 seconds, or until no large chunks remain. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- To assemble: Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with baking spray.
- With a rolling pin, roll one-third of the dough into a 10-inch (25 cm)circle about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Roll the dough onto rolling pin and transfer it to the pie plate. Trim any excess dough to the height of the pie plate.
- Roll the remaining dough 1/8 inch (3 mm)thick. Using a ravioli cutter, cut strips of dough about 2 inches (5 cm) wide and 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) long. Spread the filing along each strip and roll into a rosette. Place the first rosette in the middle of the crust. Repeat the process, placing each additional rosette around the first one. You should be able to make about 12-13 rosettes. Fold in the surrounding dough.
- Beat the remaining egg and brush the entire pastry with it.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the apricot preserves and water. Heat until liquid. Brush the pitta with the preserves and decorate with the nonpareils