While I am on vacation in Greece for the week I’ve lined up some great guest posts for you! Today we have an amazing, authentic Italian recipe from Giulia over at AlterKitchen!
When Katherine asked me to write a guest post for her beautiful blog, while she is on vacation, I wondered what recipe I could write about, since I wanted to share an Italian dish at all costs or, even better, a recipe typical of my region, Piedmont. So, after all this thinking and after a lot of exclusions (but you’ll find these dishes on my blog, anyway), I found out that the perfect recipe was already in my mind all along, waiting for the right trigger … and so, here I am with my meliga pastries.
If you hang out at my blog for a while, maybe meliga pastries aren’t a novelty for you. In fact, it’s not the first time that I make them and blog about them: but, in my first experiment, although the result was really good in taste, I knew I didn’t make the REAL cornmeal pastries, ’cause I got a classic cookie dough, to roll out and to cut with cookie cutters.
The REAL meliga pastries, however, are made with a much softer dough: you put this dough into a piping bag with a star nozzle, to give your cookies the classic shape, similar to a flattened ring. It must be said that peliga pastries don’t have a codified shape, so you can make them as you prefer (stick, round, crescent, etc…) … and thank goodness, ’cause I found out at the very last second that my piping bag was broken (can you believe that?!) and I had to change my plans on the fly.
But, before telling you about the recipe and about my misadventures with cooking utensils, let me say two more things. First of all that I love these cookies beyond any reasonable limit: these flaky and not cloying pastries, in which you can feel the corn grain and a pleasing butter aroma, are a symbol of Piedmont (in fact, they’re protected by Slow Food) and, if you didn’t understand it yet, one of the products that I am more fond of.
Then (here it is the second thing to say) I have searched for the right recipe, on the basis of many meliga pastries I tried, for a long time, now. Finally, I snubbed the recipes for meliga cookies and I dived on a bomb proof recipe for whipped short pastry, the one from Sara (Fior di frolla), changing one or two things. Needless to say, given Sara’s talent, her recipe is really a kick, and allowed me to make some really delicious meliga pastries, very close to the REAL ones, the ones that you can savor throughout the Cuneo Province.
- 150 grams unsalted butter (2/3 cup), left out of the fridge for several hours (very softened)
- 80 grams powdered sugar (¾ cup)
- Grated peel of half a lemon
- 40 grams egg (about 1 medium egg)
- Pinch of salt
- 150 grams confectionery cornmeal, ground more finely than the polenta one (about 1 cup)
- 50 grams all purpose flour (1/3 cup)
- In a bowl whisk the softened (not melted) butter with the sifted powdered sugar and lemon peel until you have a fluffy mixture, increased in volume.
- Stir in the egg (if you increase the dose, incorporate the eggs one at a time), always beating, until you have a fluffy mixture again.
- Now add a pinch of salt and the two types of flour, sifted, and stir with a spatula (NOT with whisks, otherwise flour will precipitate) from the bottom up, until the mixture is homogeneous.
- Put the dough in a piping bag (Sarah suggests not to use one a disposable one, 'cause the mixture is not very soft and it might break the bag) equipped with medium-large star nozzle and make your cookies with the classic flattened ring shape, squeezing the dough on non-stick baking pans or regular ones lined with parchment paper. If you, like me, have last-minute problems with an evil piping bag, you could use a cookie-press, instead (I have this one), perfect for this kind of dough. I made a flower shape, the closest to the real shape.
- Put the baking pans (with cookies on them) in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (so the mixture will set, and it won't deflate during cooking). Preheat oven to 356° F (180° C) and bake your cookies in a pre-heated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes (if you bake more batches at a time, rotate them halfway through baking), or until golden.
- Let the cookies cool down on a wire rack and store them in a tin box to keep them crunchy.