Inventive

Recreating a recipe

Originally published on 24-11-2009. Relevant to having dug up the post about my centenarian Italian sourdough starter, and resurfaced here partly to goad me into trying it again so that I can repost on Fornacalia.com. There are definitely changes I would make to the recipe and the method.

dough spread with prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes

When I joined the secret confraternity of home bread bakers back in the summer [of 2009], the restaurant Necci 1924 fed us a remarkable lunch to tide us over the rising of the bread. Among the items was the most delicious kind of savoury Chelsea bun, a spiral confection of soft bread, prosciutto, tomatoes and, maybe (though I don't remember) herbs like rosemary. I ate my fill, and lusted after more. But I didn't know what they were called. So I threw myself on the assembled wisdom of The Fresh Loaf, where Scott Hall emerged from the chaos with some recommendations.1

So I did it, based on the recipe in Dan Lepard's Exceptional Breads but using my starter and only half quantities.

150 gm white starter at 100% hydration
390 ml warm water
500 gm grano tenero 0
10 gm salt
1/2 tsp demerara sugar
25 gm olive oil
100 gm prosciutto
100 gm sun-dried tomatoes

In a large bowl, I mixed the water with the starter, then stirred in 250 gm of the flour. I covered the bowl and left that to get going, about 4 1/2 hours.

Added 25 gm of olive oil (as per Scott's suggestion of 5% oil) then tipped in the remaining 250 gm of flour, the salt and the sugar. In the absence of the mixer Dan's recipe calls for I did a stretch-and-fold every 10 minutes for an hour.

I spread the dough out into a rough rectangle on a silicone mat and placed a layer of prosciutto on top, leaving about the bottom third clear along the long edge to seal it. Then striped the sun-dried tomatoes across the dough.

Rolling the dough up wasn't as hard as I expected, using the silicone scraper carefully. I transferred it onto a floured wooden board and sealed the seam as best as I could. Then sliced it into 12 rounds, which I transferred to an oiled baking tray, leaving space between them to allow for expansion. Next time I might try packing them in a little closer, even at the risk of them joining together.

Covered with a cloth and allowed to rise for about an hour, then into an oven at 220 ℃ for 25 minutes.

On removing them from the oven I brushed them again with more olive oil, going over them three times in total.

finished savoury bun

And that's it. You can see the whole set of photos here. Were they as good as the ones at Necci? I don't honestly know. May have to go back there soon. Were they good? You bet; gently chewy with the flavour of the ham and some bites intense with salty tomato. Definitely best warm, and they reheat brilliantly in a dry skillet over a low flame with a lid on.


  1. Looking back now, the specific comment seems to have vanished. I have asked why. 

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