To each one their own madeleine

Marcel Proust, the autobiographical narrator of the most renowned multiple (oh, those tomes!) piece of French 20th century literature "In Search of Lost Time" has it, my grandmother has it, my favourite beekeeper has it, the laundry woman working and singing below my apartment has it and I have it too. It's the Madeleine, that is, that involuntary memory that arises once we are faced with the most eloquent elements reminding us of long times gone; suddenly, all our senses awaken and we are taken back in time to a moment so intense that we would have not suspected of it existing in the back of our mind, had we tried to remember it rationally. Proust's narrator laments that such memories are inevitably partial, and do not bear the essence of the past. Back in Italy these days for some pop-up projects, I can't help but being somehow drawn by these lines which I'm re-reading these days in my new Parisian life. My childhood days in Puglia gave me strenght, an unbearable feisty attitude, a love for the wild sea and loads of crunchy and creamy pasticciotti. I don't want them to be just partial memories but entire new memories to grasp for you, so here it is, the whole traditional recipe spread out for you. I love to devour 2 of them with my morning cappuccino. Pasticciotti with custard and black cherries

  • 330 gr. super fine OO flour
  • 150 gr. of dairy butter
  • 5 free range egg yolks
  • 1 free range egg
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 2.5 dl. of fresh organic whole milk
  • 160 gr. of caster sugar
  • 120 gr. black cherries in light syrup
  • 50 gr. icing sugar

Prepare the dough. Arrange 300 gr. of flour in a large bowl, distribute the cold butter over cut into small pieces and work quickly the two ingredients with your fingertips in order to form a crumbled mixture. Merge then 100 gr. of sugar, 2 egg yolks and the whole egg. Mix together, form a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven at 180°. Make the custard. Engrave half of the vanilla pod, lengthwise, put it in a saucepan, pour over the milk and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, assemble the remaining egg yolks with the caster sugar, using a whisk. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, alternating it with a ladle of milk. Stir with a wooden spoon and complete by pouring the remaining hot milk. Cook the cream over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is quite dense. Butter and flour the moulds.

Arrange the ball of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper, flatten it with your hands and then, using a rolling pin, work it to obtain a layer about 3 mm. thick. Line half of the dough at the bottom of the molds and then fill them each with the cold custard. Lie in the center one or more cherries in syrup and cover the molds with the remaining dough, making sure to well seal the edges. Sting the surface with the prongs of a fork and bake in preheated oven at 180° for 20 minutes. Let your pasticciotti cool and cover them with icing sugar before serving.

With love and pasticciotti,

Eleonora