Fiadone, Fiadone Dolce, Fiadoni, Fiadoni Dolci, Fiatoni, Hiadone or H'iatun'**
For the Pastry Dough [Makes about 4 to 6 fiadoni]
6 extra large eggs
6 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons oil
Flour as much as is needed (About 3 to 4 cups of flour (or so) -- it all depends on the size of the eggs and the type of equipment one is using to make the dough (The resulting dough should not be too hard, but resemble a "cavatelli dough").
For the Filling
2 containers of ricotta, drained* (450 grams each)
2 egg whites, beaten
6 tablespoons sugar
For brushing tops of pastry
3 egg yolks, beaten
*Saputo ricotta is the best for this recipe as its ricotta is the thickest. The other brands contain more liquid in their ricotta containers, so after draining the ricotta, one ends up with less filling.
** Fiadone (singular) or fiadoni (plural) were originally known as "h'iatun'" or "hiadone" in the Molise countryside. However tourist brochures from this region now refer to them as "fiadone." Spellings vary. The word is often spelled as, "fiatoni."
1. Mix the pastry dough ingredients. It's best to start with less flour, then add more if necessary (The dough should not be too hard like a spaghetti dough, it should feel more like a cavatelli dough.). Work into a fine dough -- expect to knead the dough for about 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Shape the dough into four balls and wrap each one in clear plastic wrap. Place each ball of dough in a separate container with a lid. Cover each container with a towel.
3. Let the dough rest for about 6 hours.
4. While the dough is resting make the ricotta filling. Place the ricotta in a bowl and add the sugar. Beat the egg whites with a fork for a minute or so and then mix them to the ricotta and sugar mixture until it is well mixed and smooth, but do not use blender, as the ricotta will have a stronger flavor if it is kept in its natural state. Keep the mixture in the fridge till needed.
5. After the dough has rested take one ball of dough and knead for a few minutes. Shape into a log. Cut a portion of the log and pass them through a pasta machine -- but not to the last number. The dough should not be as thin as lasagna noodles, but just a touch thicker (possibly no. 7, not never 8 if one has numbers on one's pasta machine). Any left-over dough cuttings can be re-shaped into small balls of dough, and then passed through the pasta machine again.
6. Cut another small portion from the log and keep passing them through the pasta machine (bearing in mind that the dough will harden after awhile, so it's best to do them in batches).
7. After the dough has been passed through the pasta machine, cut the long panels of pastry sheets into rectangles -- about 10 to 12 inches long and 5 to 6 inches wide. Either make flaps around the cut out rectangles (like flaps on cardboard boxes) or keep the pastry sheet flat. In either case add the ricotta mixture in the center of the rectangular-shaped cut-outs and spread out, but making sure to leave the edges (about 1/2 inch) free of any of the ricotta.
8. Make lattice strips -- about 1/2 inch wide, and 12 to 14 inches long (Obviously, the length of the strips depend on the size of the rectangular pastry cut outs). Attach the strips to the bottom half of the fiadone, forming a lattice pattern. Press the edges together with a fork or pinch them with your fingers. (If the pastry sheets are hardened one can soften the edges with an egg that has been beaten with 1/2 cup of water, however, this dough has a lot of oil in it so it shouldn't happen).
9. Brush the lattice strips with beaten egg yolk.
10. Bake in a shallow greased pan in a slow oven (about 325 degrees F) on the medium rack for about thirty minutes or until the pastries are golden [Obviously, the length of time will depend on the type of cookware one is using and the type of oven one has]. N.B. Cheap aluminum cookware is the best, as the aluminum does not conduct heat very well, making it less likely that one ends up with burnt fiadoni bottoms. One can line the baking sheet with a silicon baking mat, but as silicon baking mats CANNOT be greased, the flavor and texture of the bottom side of the fiadoni pastries will not be as good.
Repeat "Steps 4 to 10" for the remaining portions of dough.
Keep in fridge until needed.
Serve at room temperature.
It seems that prior to World War II the traditional way of doing fiadone in Casacalenda, Molise, was to present them in a rectangular shape and top them with lattice strips. My aunt (Rosina Melfi) says they used "pasticcio" dough to make the "fiadone con ricotta" rather than the pastry dough which became fashionable in North America [For recipe see Fiodone con Ricotta di Casacalenda, Version IV). Possibly, as soon as Italians arrived in North America they socialized with immigrants from various regions of their home country, and of course, the women exchanged recipes. By the time the second generation started to cook in the mid 1970s, what was presented as the "traditional" way of doing this or that may not have been all that traditional or representative of the particular hometown the first generation came from. On the other hand who knows....? "Fiadone con formagio" were done as "pastry pockets" in Casacalenda so maybe the new arrivals from this town simply changed the look of the "fiadone con ricotta" because it was easier to do???? One day food historians will figure it all out, for now, I certainly cannot. Personally, I prefer the half-moon shaped "fiadone con ricotta" than this rectangular-shaped fiadone that my dear aunt, Zia Teresa, used to make when I was a little girl. As she wasn't fond of the fiadone dough, she made her strips rather thin, and made the ricotta quite visible. However, this style of fiadone is labor-intensive and hard to get right. As I said (Now I am repeating myself!) I prefer the half-moon shaped fiadone (or "hugh-don' as they say in Casacalenda), why I can't say for sure, unless, of course, it's because my mother has been making hers in the shape of half moons for over half a century.... Photo: Mary Melfi.