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Mostaccioli preparation
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Recipe for mostaccioli shows care for each aspect: mixture, making,cooking time,because all together they create not only a sweet but a real,long conservation object, to be given on many occasions.
In the blender, put 1 part of water and 3 of local honey(in winter: make it melt on the flame);then,sift the flour,to be slowly added and amalgamated.
Honey,as sweetener, softens pastry during the time, absorbing moisture and making the final product more tasteful.
In part, it’s honey locally produced by paisants and by Soriano apiculturists: it can be orange-, wildflowers-,acacia- and chestnut-flavoured;this one is the most flavoured,but it’s always advisable to mixed it with other kinds of honey,because of its bitter aftertaste. On the contrary, figs honey isn’t used anymore:it coagulates little and doesn’t allow to fix sweets shapes for a long time.
During the thirties, in Soriano traditions we could find also "done must",disappeared today,but still in use near Caserta and Napoli, where there is the production of similar biscuits.
Other sweeteners used today are:mixing of invert sugar and glucose syrup,which substitute 50% of honey at least, standardize products taste, with a rilevant reduction in production expenses.After few hours or a whole nigth rest, the thick yeastless pastry is easy to knead and forge( using a knife blade) on a wooden table or better on a marble or steel one.
It’s important to leave pastry to stand for a while,because it will be easier to forge after,using hands,ferruzza(thin blade),sticca(spatula) or rasagnu(small cogwheel, which gives brown coat to edges and impresses the artisan’s initials).
The handmade product will get its final fantastic aspect in the oven,embellished with many precious details.
Artisans,we should say artists,fold,stick,cut and forge pastry carefully without using any mould;
they help themselves with hands,water and oil,to make the pastry smoother and to separate the different pieces from the working table.
Moulds are used only for simple,standard shapes or for faces impressed with little moulds;all the rest can be learnt in laboratories, without any book,but just looking carefully at the "mastazzolaro",at aged artisans and listening to their precious stories.
Red,green or silver-coloured tin foil is the only "artificial" decorative element used for pastry figures with natural things,such as beans for puppets’eyes.
In past times,artisans cooked mostaccioli on wooden fires(briar-root or olive tree frond): only expert eyes and hands could size mostaccioli right colour and cooking ; today everything is baked in electric ovens, where many oily baking tins are arranged in rows.
After 20 minutes at 220, mostaccioli get hard and darker ,little by little; normally, mostaccioli made with sugar are darker than the ones made with honey,because sugar candies easier than honey.
To get black shapes,such as "horse"or "S.Francesco", sugar must be burnt on fire with little water, then melt into the mixture of flour and honey.
Cooking time and temperature depend on the mostacciolo thickness; normally, to get a perfect final product, artisans bake together tins containing mostaccioli of the same shapes,which need the same time to get ready.Longer times are required for the evaporation of almost 14% of water,so, for bigger mostaccioli.
It’s important to keep in mind that cooking on a low flame is necessary to avoid ugly splits .
From laboratories and craftmen’shops, a delicious smell runs out, spreading everywhere;that’s why Soriano is called "the smelling town",welcoming whoever goes there on visiting.
Once cooked,mostaccioli are left to cool,without folding,breaking or damaging; then, they’re wrapped
in cellophane,to be easily transported and kept crisp for a long time.