Hand built pastry cases with a filling of saffron-spiked ricotta, they're the kind of thing you might find offered on a huge plate to house guests, as a sign of hospitality in Sardinia's south – and for this reason, they are often made in huge quantities, enough to feed all the friends and relatives that you may know that could possibly pop round to the house the week of Easter.
You could use your favourite pastry recipe for these, but the traditional pastry couldn't be simpler – flour, a touch of lard (or olive oil, but lard gives it a distinct crunch) and a splash of warm water to bring it together, much like [this one](https://food52.com/recipes...). It's rolled very thin, then circles the size of little espresso saucers are cut out. The filling is spooned into the middle of each pastry round then the edges are pinched together in five or six places to create little cases, almost like stars, that are then baked. Some like to sprinkle the tops with cinnamon, others pour over warm honey (my preference, too) or finish with a simple dusting of powdered sugar. —Emiko
For the pastry:
(250 grams) all purpose flour
plus 1 tablespoon (100 ml) warm water, or as needed
(50 grams) lard (or butter or olive oil), room temperature
For the filling:
of saffron threads
(400 grams) fresh ricotta, well drained
(50 grams) sugar
zest of 1 lemon or orange
cinnamon, powdered sugar or warmed honey, optional, for serving
Steep the saffron threads in a 1-2 tablespoons of hot water. Leave for about 20 minutes to extract the colour.
For the pastry, combine the flour, lard (or olive oil or butter) and water and mix together to form a rather smooth, soft dough. If it's sticky, add some more flour, if you find it crumbly, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together. Knead by hand for 3-5 minutes then wrap in plastic wrap, or leave under a lightly damp tea towel to rest for 30 minutes.
For the filling, whisk together all the ingredients, except for the optional cinnamon or honey toppings, in a medium bowl until combined. Add the saffron "tea" and mix to combine. Set aside in the fridge while you prepare the pastry.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface until very thin, about 1mm. If you have a small counter space, you may like to work on just half the dough at a time. Cut out rounds with a cookie cutter or similar such as a wide glass, approximately 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) in diameter.
Place a golf-ball sized portion of the ricotta filling on a pastry round, so there is a 1/2 inch border of pastry all around, then pinch the border in even spaces about 5-6 times all around so that you have a little star-pointed case holding the filling. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and continue until you fill the tray.
Bake at 350F (180C) for 30 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden and the filling slightly puffed. Serve warm or cold, drizzled with warmed honey or sprinkled with cinnamon or powdered sugar.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.