Fiadone, Fiadone Dolce, Fiadoni, Fiatoni, Fiadoni Dolci, Hiadone or H'iatun'*
Pastry Dough ** [Makes about 2 fiadoni]
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups flour*
1/2 cup melted lard (e.g., Tenderflake)*
1 tablespoon baking powder
** This is similar to the "pasticcino" dough, except it uses more flour so it can be rolled out into a thin pastry sheet
For the Filling
2 containers of ricotta, drained (450 grams each)
2 egg whites, beaten
6 tablespoons sugar
1 small piece of cinnamon stick (an inch or so)
For brushing tops of pastry
2 egg yolks
N.B. 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. Also, the thicker the ricotta filling texture is the less "airy" it is -- a good thing, as this will help the pastry pocket's filling from "popping out" from its air vents.
* Fiodone (singular) or fiodoni (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." On the world-wide web this style of cheese pastry has many different names, including: fiadone con formaggio, fiadone al formaggio, fiadone di formaggio, fiadoni con formaggio, fiadoni al formaggio and fiadoni di formaggio.
Mix flour, sugar, melted lard, and baking powder work into a firm but malleable dough (If the dough is too soft add more flour, if it's too hard add more lard).
Shape the dough into ball, lightly flour it, wrap it with clear plastic and then let it rest at room temperature for about an hour.
Meanwhile make the ricotta filling, adding the egg whites and sugar [Do NOT use an electric blender, best to do it by hand and keep the original texture of the ricotta]. Take a little of cinnamon stick, grind it, and then add it to the mixture (The reason a cinnamon stick is used is that one does not one to add any color to the mixture, just a touch of cinnamon will do).
Roll out the rested dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick.
Cut out a rectangular -- 12 inches by 6 inches or 8 inches by 4 inches.
Place the ricotta mixture in the center of the rectangular, spread out a little, leaving about half an inch on the sides.
Make the lattice topping -- either with flat strips or dough or one can make them rounded (like thin taralli-style ropes). In either case, the lattice topping dough is thinner than the one used to make the bottom of the fiadone.
Using a fork seal the edges of the lattice topping to the bottom of the fiadone.
Brush the lattice strips with egg yolk (avoiding the ricotta mixture).
Bake in a "greased" aluminum baking sheet in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
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.
Keep in the fridge till needed.
My aunt, Zia Rosina Melfi, who grew up in Casacalenda in the 1930s, states that prior to World War II "fiadoni dolce con ricotta" in Casacalenda were presented in a rectangular form with lattice topping and they were made with "pasticcio" dough (cookie dough) rather than with regular pastry dough (The traditional recipe, Version IV, is given in this entry). Apparently, the size of the "fiadoni dolce con ricotta" depended on the size of the "ruot'" (copper baking pans) individual households owned. At that time long rectangular copper pans for baking fiadoni dolce were much more popular than round-shaped ones (At least, they were in Casacalenda). In any case, it appears that a number of individuals who immigrated from Molise to Canada in the 1950s modified their sweet fiadoni recipes. Some Italian immigrants presented their sweet fiadoni as round-shaped pies (North American style) rather than rectangular-shaped ones, while others decided the pastry pocket form was more appealing (and/or easier to do) than a lattice-topped pie. Honestly speaking, in this one particular case, I am glad the traditional recipe was modified in North America. Personally, I find that sweet fiadone is much more flavorful when it presented as a pastry pocket than as a rectangular or round-shaped pie with lattice topping (And it is easier to do!!!). I dare say "Fiadone con Ricotta" (Version I -- my mother's version!!!!!!!!!!) is my favorite sweet in the whole wide world.... Version IV (the recipe in this entry) is O.K. but I would rather spend my Easter holidays devouring my mother's fiadoni (Fiadone con Recotta, Version I) than anyone else's. But then that could just be me. Photo: Mary Melfi.