Apostle’s Fingers

Dita di Apostolo - Torta o RagioneApostle’s Fingers is a traditional dessert existing in differnt forms thorughout the South of Italy, especially in the regions of Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily. This dessert is usually made of a sort of crêpe rolled with a sweet ricotta filling, and it is usually prepared during the Eastern period.

This tradition has been fading though and a lot of Italians don’t even know of its existence.
I myself found out about these beauties thanks to an Italian TV program: Best Bakery.
This format has two famous pastry chefs going up and down the country looking for the “best bakery” (duh!). Bakery as in “pastry shop”.

The best Apostole’s Fingers: Scimone

During the Palermo, Sicily episode one of the participants was the pastry shop Scimone, famous for its Apostle’s Fingers.
Of course their recipe is top secret and I am sure that what they showed during the episode was a total misdirection from the get go. I bet what they prepared on TV was thrown in the bin and the real thing was taken out of the fridge afterwards.
Maybe it was the mystery that in intrigued me, but I had to try it!

The recipe

I had to invent the recipe from scratch based only on what I saw (i.e. the final product). I don’t even know if I got close to the original as I have never been to Palermo, but the result was great nonetheless.
Friends and family seem to go crazy for them. I am very proud of what I came up with.

I mostly concentrated on the crêpe, which I have made closer to a rolled sponge cake. My aim was to make it thin though, and being thin one has to be careful when baking. If it burns it will crack when rolled.

For the filling I used ricotta cheese together with mascarpone, sugar, whipped cream and vanilla.

I also tried to assemble it as close as possible to the original I saw on TV, by twisting the edge towards the centre when rolling it.

Like the original I sprinkled some cinnamon on top before serving.

Apostle's Fingers

Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time12 mins
3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 52 mins

Ingredients

For the crêpes:

  • 70 g eggs 2.5 oz
  • 100 g egg white 3.5 oz
  • 50 g egg yolk 1.8 oz
  • 140 g milk full fat (5 oz)
  • 42 g flour 1.5 oz
  • 30 g butter 1 oz
  • 35 g sugar 1.2 oz
  • 8 g honey 0.3 oz
  • powdered vanilla bourbon the tip of a tsp. (alternatively vanilla extract)

For the ricotta filling:

  • 350 g ricotta cheese preferably sheep (12.3 oz)
  • 80 g mascarpone cheese 2.8 oz
  • 210 g whipping cream 7.4 oz
  • 120 g icing sugar 4.2 oz
  • powdered vanilla bourbon the tip of a tsp. (alternatively vanilla extract)

For garnishing:

  • icing sugar
  • cinnamon powder

Instructions

For the crêpe:

  • Preheat the oven at 180° C (355° F).
  • Put milk, butter and honey in a small pot on low heat. When butter and honey are melted add the flour slowly, stirring constantly with a whip.
  • When it thickens add the eggs while stirring.
  • Add the egg yolks and the vanilla bourbon, and keep stirring to combine the ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl whip the egg whites using a handheld mixer. When they start to gain volume add the sugar and keep whipping until firm.
  • Fold them into the other ingredients, being careful not to deflate them.
  • Line an oven tray with baking paper. In order to make the paper stick, rub some butter on the tray.
  • Pour some of the batter on the tray and rotate it to distribute evenly. If the batter is too thick and doesn't move much use a long spatula to level it.
  • The crêpe should be thin but not too much, in the sense that if you can see the baking paper through it then it's too thin. In that case add some more batter and level.
  • Bake in the oven at 180° C (355° F) for 10-12 minutes. When it starts to be colored on the edges is time to remove it.
  • Take the crêpe out of the oven sprinkle some granulated sugar on top. Turn it upside down on a sheet of baking paper.
  • Remove the baking paper on top and let it cool off completely while you prepare the ricotta filling.

For the ricotta filling:

  • Using a handheld mixer with whips, beat the ricotta with the mascarpone, the icing sugar and the vanilla. A vanilla icing sugar could be used if no vanilla bourbon is available.
  • In a different bowl whip the cream until medium firm.
  • Gently fold it into the rest of the ingredients.

Assembly:

  • Take the crêpe rectangle and place it on a piece of cling film.
  • Place the ricotta filling in a line along the longer side, not too close to the edge.
  • With the help of the cling film start rolling the crêpe, trying not to squash it too much.
  • Wrap completely with cling film and place in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
  • Once ready cut the frozen cylinder in discs about 3 cm wide (1.2 in).
  • Let the disc in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.
  • Sprinkle some icing sugar and a line of cinnamon powder on top.
Did you try this recipe?Mention @tortaoragione and tag #tortaoragione!

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