These amazing sweet treats are the perfect pasty for your next afternoon tea.
For the dough, combine flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a dough hook until combined, then slowly add the water until a dough has formed. You may need to add a little extra water. It is supposed to be very dry. Gently squeeze a small handful of dough; it should hold together without falling apart. If it doesn't, add more water one teaspoon at a time, beating after each addition and continuing to test. Continue beating at a moderately low speed until dough forms a ball, about five minutes (dough will not be smooth). Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Cut dough into five pieces the same size. Put dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Set rollers of pasta machine at widest setting. Feed one piece of dough through rollers until you have a thin sheet. Repeat until you have five sheets in total.
Place one strip of dough on a large work surface with the short end nearest you. Starting at a short end, brush the dough with some melted lard and pull gently at it to stretch it sideways, starting from the middle and going out until it is about 20cm in length. Roll up tightly like a cigar, continuing to pull the dough while rolling up. Once rolled up, spread some more lard on another stretched sheet, top with the first roll and continue to stretch and roll this up around the first cigar. Repeat with remaining sheets. The log will naturally be thicker in the middle. Rub the whole log with lard and rub hands along it to stretch it lengthways a bit to knock out air pockets. Cover log with plastic wrap. Place the rolled dough log in the fridge for an hour.
For the filling, combine milk and sugar in a medium saucepan, bring just to the boil, then whisk in the semolina and cook for about three minutes or until thick. Take off heat. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool completely, covered closely with plastic wrap. Once cool, transfer to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the beater. Beat in the rest of the ingredients until combined, for about another three minutes. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain nozzle.
Preheat oven to 180C fan forced.
To fill, line two baking sheets with baking paper. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place on a chopping board. Slice off about 2-3cm from each end so that they are straight and even, then cut the dough into 12 x 1cm thick slices. Use some of the extra softened lard to grease fingers, then gently push the middle out a bit. Insert your thumbs on the inside, gently stretching the centre to make it a cone shape. Fill with the ricotta filling and seal the ends. Place on prepared trays and bake for 25 mins or until golden all over. Allow to cool, then dust with a little icing sugar. Make and present 12 sfogliatelle.
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