These light pastry puffs filled with cream start appearing in pasticcerie in Rome a few weeks before 19 March, the day of the feast of St Joseph. In this recipe we've baked the pastries, but if you prefer to stick with tradition, you can deep-fry them instead.
- 100 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- 150 gm plain flour (1 cup)
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 20 gm roasted flaked almonds, to serve (¼ cup)
- To serve: pure icing sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 150 gm caster sugar
- 40 gm plain flour
- 750 ml milk (3 cups)
- Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- Finely grated rind of ½ lemon
- 1For crema pasticcera, whisk yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl to combine. Bring milk to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then add to yolk mixture with vanilla seeds and whisk to combine. Return to pan and whisk over medium-high heat until mixture is thick and bubbles appear (4 minutes). Add lemon rind, then transfer to a bowl, cool to room temperature, cover directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool and thick (1-2 hours).
- 2Preheat oven to 200C. Heat the bowl of an electric mixer in hot water, then wipe dry. Combine butter and 250ml water in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Add flour and beat vigorously until dough leaves sides of pan, then remove from heat and transfer to electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating continuously to ensure eggs do not cook, then beat until eggs are incorporated and dough is sticky. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain nozzle and pipe sixteen 4cm-diameter mounds on two oven trays lined with baking paper. Bake until puffed and starting to turn golden (20 minutes). Pierce bignè bases with a small knife, reduce oven to 170C, then bake until dry (15-30 minutes). Set aside on a wire rack to cool.
- 3Transfer crema pasticcera to a piping bag fitted with a 5mm nozzle and fill bignè through pierced base. Scatter with almonds, dust with icing sugar and serve.
Drink Suggestion: A sparkling, slightly sweet Brachetto. Drink suggestion by Max Allen