Sfogliatelle means “small, leaf layers” in Italian, and you sometimes hear these ricotta-filled, clamshell-like pastries also called Lobster Tails in North America, but they are from Naples originally. The flaky dough is made very differently from a French puff pastry – essentially a pasta dough is rolled thin, brushed with butter and then spiral-rolled into a cylinder that is then sliced and when pushed out and filled , the layers bake up flaky, crispy and light. The texture of a baked sfogliatelle is not a buttery-rich as a croissant – it had more of a substantial crunch, need to hold that orange-spiked ricotta & semolina filling.
Makes 16-20 pastries.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, semolina and salt. Add the water all at once and mix until the mixture is and even texture (but it will be quite dry and crumbly) and it comes together when squeezed in your hand, about 3 minutes. Turn this out onto a work surface and knead with your hands to bring the dough together into 4 small discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (or this can be made a day ahead.)
This next step requires a bit of space and a pasta rolling attachment for your mixer, or pasta rolling machine. Beat the butter and shortening together by hand to combine and set aside. Roll each piece through this widest setting at least 4 times, folding the piece into thirds and re-rolling at a 45º rotation each time. Set the pieces aside (covered under a piece of plastic wrap) while working on them one at a time.
Roll the first piece through each setting of the pasta maker, progressively getting thinner one step at a time, until it is as thin as possible (it will be about 5 feet/150 cm long by the time you’re done!), and 6-inches (15 cm) across (as wide as the pasta roller). If you run out of space, you can cut the piece of dough in half. Gently stretch the dough to widen it to 8 or 9-inches (20-23 cm) across, making it even thinner (almost sheer). Spread a sheer layer of the butter mixture of the entire surface of the dough (using your hands is easiest, so that you don’t tear the dough. Starting from the short end, roll up the dough while holding it taut so that the dough continues to stretch as you roll it up. If cut into two pieces, overlap the dough an inch as you continue to roll. Repeat this same process with each of the three remaining pieces, latching each onto the one previous. By the time you are done, you will have a cylinder that is 2 ½ -3 inches (6-7.5 cm) in diameter and 8 to 9-inches (20-23 cm) long. Wrap this in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours (or overnight).
For the filling, bring the water, milk and sugar up to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, whisk in the semolina and keep whisking, reducing the heat to medium-low, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Transfer this to a large bowl and add the ricotta, beating in with a spatula until smooth. Add the egg yolks, orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir in, followed by the candied orange peel. Chill until ready to assemble.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC) and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Unwrap the cylinder of dough, trim off the ends and cut into slices that are just under 1/2-inch (12 mm) thick – you should get about 16. Use the base of the palm of your hand to flatten each piece just a little (no flour needed), pushing outward from the centre. Hold the piece of dough with your thumbs in the centre and carefully coax the dough into a cone shape by pushing your thumbs up and pulling the sides down with your fingers. Dollop a generous spoonful of the ricotta filling into the cone and press to bring the edge together in a seashell shape. The ends should meet, but do not have to be sealed. Place each of the pastries on the prepared baking trays, leaving 2-inches (5 cm) between them (they will expand a fair bit as they bake. Bake the pastries for 25 to 30 minutes, until a rich golden brown. Let the pastries cool on the tray for about 15 minutes, before dusting with icing sugar and enjoying warm or at room temperature.