I am including this recipe even though it is part of an ongoing research project of mine. This is another of Scappi’s inventions and I think it is a fantastic historical bite! It is fairly straightforward but the secret is in the dough.
Scappi has several recipes that he calls “ciambelle”. John Florio’s 1611 Italian English Dictionary (2) tells us that a ciambelle is “simnels, buns or cake” (p. 100). The Oxford English DIctionary (3) lists simnel as “A kind of bread or bun made of fine flour and prepared by boiling, sometimes with subsequent baking” (p. 492). Gillian Riley states in The Oxford Companion to Italian Food (4) that ciambelle was not the only name for these ring shaped breads and biscuits and not all of them were dunked in boiling water. She goes on to quote Costanzo Felici, who wrote in 1560’s Italy, saying
“ There is also a twice-cooked bread, circular or ring or other shaped, made with a fairly hard dough, with salt, anise or fennel seeds, first cooked in boiling water and then in the oven”
He goes on to say
“….with many varieties that we might call “reinforced” breads, with a wide range of additions to the flour or dough according to the changing tastes of mankind, among these breads made in various shapes commonly known as bricuocoli, ciaramilie or bracciatelli or braciatelletti, made with flour mixed with eggs….and sometimes twice cooked, or in copper pans; some of these are light and very spongy, some covered in powdered sugar, called berlingozzi in Rome, others without sugar, some smoother, some harder, some low and flattened, large or small in shape, and among these last one often sees little biscotelli mixed with milk and sugar, or just sugar, or without. Of the same form, but made with much thinner strips of dough, are other ones—bacciatellini or zuccarini, as they call them, made with eggs and sugar.” (p. 71-72)
Original Recipe (2)
Book V Recipe 150
“Per Fare Ciambelle Ripiene
Piglisi una libra di cascio bazzotto grasso, cioe di vacca, senza sale & una libra di cascio parmigiano grattato, oncie sei d’uva passa ben netta, un oncie di cannella, quattro oncie di zuccaro, tre oncie di butiro fresco, dodici ova freshe, & un poco di zafferano & d’ogni cosa faccisi una compositione. Poi impastinsi libre tre di fior di farina, con dicci oncie di latte di capra tiepido, & quattro oncie di mollica di pane imbeverata in esso latto, sei rofsi d’ova, quattro oncie di butiro, & sale a bastanza, &ben menata che sara la pasta, giungendoli nel menarla altre quattro oncie di butiro in piu volte. Compartiscasi in bocconcini di due oncie l’uno, & con il bastone spianisino di modo che venghino tondi, lasciandoli la grossezza del sfoglio della torte; pongasi da un canto d’esse pasto due oncie di compositione sopra detta per ciasebeduno tondo, dandogli una volta, e mezza in su, vagendoli di butiro squagliato, & poi facciansi ciambellette, spianandole con la palma della mano, mettissino sopra la carta onta di butiro in una tortiera, & diasegli il colore come all’offelle, & faccisino cuocere al forno, & cotte che saranno, servisino calde, a un altro modo si puo fare tirare un sfoglia.”
“To Make Stuffed Ciambelle
Take a pound of imperfect (moderate) fat cheese, That is from a cow, without salt & a pound of grated parmesan cheese, six ounces of raisins well cleaned, an ounce of cinnamon, four ounces of sugar, three ounces of fresh butter, twelve fresh eggs, & a pinch of saffron & mix everything together forming a composition (filling). Then make a dough of three pounds of meal of flour with ten ounces of warm goat’s milk, & four ounces of breadcrumbs soaked in this milk, six egg yolks, four ounces of butter & enough salt & mix well by hand (knead) and when it shall be dough add in by hand another four ounces of butter further beyond. Divide in morsels of two ounces for one, & with the stick flatten of the method that you arrive at a round, leave it the bigness (thickness) of thin puff paste of a torte, lay two ounces of filling on a side of them over every/each one said, & whereby a turn and a half upward, spread melted butter, & then form the ciambelle, flatten with the palm of the hand, lay above greased paper with butter in a torte pan & give it color like offelle, & make them cook in the oven, & bake that it is strong, serve hot, or an other method it may be made to draw out a puff paste.”
Note: Once again, we are using the 12oz pound of Scappi’s renaissance Italy.
- 6 oz. Mascarpone Cheese
- 6 oz. Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 3 oz. Raisins
- 1 tbsp Cinnamon
- 4-5 Eggs, beaten
- 6 oz. Butter
- 3 Strands of Saffron
Melt the butter with the saffron. While you are waiting mix the cheeses together with the raisins, cinnamon and eggs. It should be a soupy mess. After the butter is melted cool it off to about 80º. I do this so that I don’t get scrabbled eggs.
Once the butter is cooled sufficiently, add it to the cheese and egg mixture. This is where the magic happens. The fat molecules in the butter adhere to the fat in the cheese and eggs and it thickens beautifully creating a lovely fluffy spreadable mixture!
Take your dough and divide it into two ounce lumps. Roll the dough very thin. I roll it out until I can see through it. Take two ounces of your filling and place it to one side of your dough round. Brush all the exposed dough with melted butter and roll it up one and a half times. This is important, if you roll it tightly, the inside layers of dough will be raw while those on the outside are over brown.
Once you have a little log of cheese filled dough, press the ends down with the palm of your hand to seal them. Now butter the ends and bring them together to form a ring and press again with your hands. Brush with melted butter and place on parchment paper on a sheet pan. Finish forming your ciambelle. You should have about 8.
Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes or until the outside is a golden brown.
1) Scappi, Bartolomeo. The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi: L’Arte et Prudeza D’un Maestro Cuoco (The Art and Craft of a Master Cook) (1570). Translated with commentary by Terrence Scully. Toronto Canada. University of Toronto Press Inc. 2008. Print.
2) Florio, John. Queen Anna’s New World of Words (1611). Scolar Press. 1973. Print.
3) The Oxford English Dictionary. 1888. archives.org, accessed 1/1/2020
4) Riley, Gillian. The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. 2007. Oxford University Press.
New York, NY. Print.
5) The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi. archives.org, accessed 1/1/2020.