In the Sicialian village of Piana degli Albanesi, Nicola and Luca Petta are the father-son team behind Exrabar, a bakery that makes artisanal cannoli so delicious that people travel from around the world to taste them.
While father Nicola and other family members work at the front of the store, son Luca is in the kitchen preparing the cannoli . He begins by making the shell, which consists of unrefined lard, sugar, and a rosé that is three-quarters white wine and one-quarter red wine.
“The fat must be an unrefined lard,” explains Luca. “Like the wine, it makes the shell crumbly.”
He then adds five kilos of flour, which will allow him to make 100 cannoli shells. Per day, the shop makes an average of 1,200 to 1,500 shells, with their maximum being 2,500. Luca mixes a rough dough that will rest in the refrigerator for an hour. While it’s resting, he gets started on the filling, opting for a local sheep ricotta, which is preferable because it has less fat than cow ricotta. With the four kilos of ricotta, Luca says they can fill 50 to 60 shells.
“This ricotta with so little sugar is difficult to find in pastry shops because it does not last long,” he says. “It lasts four to five days at most.”
The ricotta then goes through a straining machine that makes it silky and creamy,On average, they will pass 160 kilos of ricotta a week.
When the cannoli cream is ready, Luca cuts the shell with a rhombus-shaped dough cutter that has been in his family for generations. He then shapes all the cannoli shells by hand to get them ready for frying.
“In our pastry shop, you will never find two identical cannoli, because each shell is closed in a way that is obvious we are not a factory,” says Luca.
After the shells are deep fried, the ricotta and shells are taken to the front of the store. The cannolis are ready to be prepared for customers, with orange peel and pistachio added by request.
“Our cannoli are filled in the moment,” says Nicola Petta. “We make them to order, like a coffee.”