Despite whipping up an admirable array of cakes, cookies and pastries in last year’s The Great British Bake Off series, which so impressed the judges that he was crowned the winner, Giuseppe Dell’Anno doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth.
“Normally I don’t have cravings for sweet cakes,” admits the 46-year-old. Instead, he’s all about the savory delights. “Few things give me as much pleasure as the smell of savory baked goods, like a warm loaf of bread or hot focaccia. Baked focaccia, that to me is heaven on a plate.”
The Italian baker, who now resides in Bristol, has written his first cookbook, devoting it to the pastries of his homeland. He may not have a sweet tooth, but still he says, “I enjoy the process of baking, and more importantly, the joy of sharing baked goods with others, rather than gorging myself. I don’t dislike a good piece of cake: in the process of writing that book, I gained 30 pounds in less than a year…I’ve literally ‘tasted’ it!”
Pizza rotoli with pepperoni
For the mass:
450 g strong bread flour
3 teaspoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated or granulated sugar
250g lukewarm water
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of salt
For the filling:
350g red sweet peppers (about 3 medium peppers)
100 g red onion (about 1 small onion)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons concentrated tomato puree
100 g green olives, pitted and sliced
Ground black pepper, for seasoning
50 g grated Parmesan cheese
A few fresh basil leaves, chopped
1. Add the flour, yeast, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix with a spoon until fully combined. Turn the mixer on medium-high speed and slowly pour the water into the mixing bowl. Immediately after the water, add the oil and continue mixing until the dough comes together evenly. It should take a couple of minutes. Sprinkle in the salt and let the mixer knead the dough for another eight to 10 minutes, or until it becomes smooth, curls around the hook, and falls cleanly off the sides of the bowl.
2. Take the dough out of the bowl and, while holding it in your hands, stretch and fold it on itself a few times and form it into a ball. Return it to the mixer jar, cut a deep cross into the surface with a sharp knife, cover the jar with cling film and let the dough rise until doubled in volume; it should take about an hour and 10 minutes at 20°C. A very practical solution to rise the dough is to leave the bowl in the closed oven, with the heat off but the interior light on. This will generate an optimal environment without drafts and slightly warm to facilitate the action of the yeast. Proving the dough under these conditions can shorten the proofing time.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: wash the peppers, remove the stems, core, white pith, and seeds, and cut the skin into 1- to 1-inch pieces. You don’t need to be precise, as they will mix together once cooked. Peel and chop the onion, then place it in a medium skillet with the oil and the chopped peppers. Add the salt and fry over medium heat, uncovered, for about five minutes, stirring frequently until the onion becomes translucent. Add the tomato puree and about 125 grams of water, cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Be sure to check that the pan does not dry out to prevent the sauce from burning.
4. Remove pan from heat and blend contents in high-heat blender or hand mixer. Set aside to cool.
5. Grease the baking pan, spreading a thin layer of olive oil on the bottom and sides. Line the bottom with a sheet of baking paper.
6. Place the proofed dough on a well-floured surface, shape it into a square with your fingers, then roll it out to a thickness of 5mm, shaping it into a 12″ x 20″ rectangle. With the longest side facing you, pour the pepper filling over the dough and spread it out with the back of a spoon or a small slanted spatula, leaving an inch to an inch of dough on top of the rectangle without sauce. Distribute the sliced olives evenly over the dough. Grind a generous layer of black pepper over the sauce, sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese on top, and add the basil leaves. Roll the dough sheet, starting from the side facing you, to the top.
7. Using a sharp knife, cut the stuffed sausage into 20 equal rolls, about an inch thick, and place on their sides on the prepared baking sheet. There may be some space between the rolls at this stage; however, it will be filled with the dough during the second fermentation and baking. Let the rolls rise again, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, place the rack in the lowest position of the oven and preheat to 200°C (400°F/ Gas mark 6). Once the second proof is complete, bake the rolls for 27 to 29 minutes, or until the tops begin to turn golden brown. Store, wrapped in paper, for up to one day.
Panna cotta with Marsala
(Makes 8 pots)
200g powdered sugar
7g platinum grade gelatin sheets (about 4 sheets)
600 g whipping cream (30-35% fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 tablespoons of white rum
2 tablespoons dry Marsala wine
1. Prepare eight aluminum pots on a flat, heat-resistant surface (ideally a wooden cutting board).
2. To make the caramel, melt 100 grams of sugar in a small metal saucepan over low heat on your hob. When the edges start to melt, tilt and shake the pan to melt all the sugar. At no point in the process should you stir the caramel. The caramel is ready as soon as all the sugar is liquid and deep amber in color.
3. Carefully pour enough caramel into each pot to cover the bottom, dividing it evenly. Be very careful at this stage as the caramel is around 200°C and can cause severe burns if it comes into contact with the skin. Aluminum pots will also get very hot once the caramel is poured in (use of protective gloves is recommended).
4. Soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl with cold water for 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, add 300 grams of the cream, the remaining 100 grams of sugar and the vanilla paste to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. By heating only half of the cream, the cooling/setting time will be shorter and less alcohol will be lost through evaporation. Remove from the heat, drain the excess water from the gelatin sheets and dissolve them in the hot cream, stirring vigorously with a spoon or, even better, with a few rods.
6. Very slowly pour the remaining 300 grams of cold cream into the hot cream mixture, stirring constantly. Always add the cold cream to the hot one, never the other way around: this will prevent premature setting of the gelatin and the formation of gummy lumps in the cream.
7. Finally, add the rum and Marsala wine and combine. Divide mixture evenly among pots; they should be filled to about a centimeter from the edges. Let rest in the fridge for at least three hours or, better, all night.
8. Once the mixture is curdled, unmold each pot onto a small plate or plate. The best way to do this is to fill a container large enough to fit a pot with boiling water. Submerge each pot in the hot water for no more than two to three seconds, then place on the serving plate. Shake the pot and plate on their sides and tap them on a folded tea towel until the panna cotta has fallen. Store in the refrigerator for up to two to three days.
(about 50 ago)
250g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
90 g whole unblanched almonds
10 g bitter apricot seeds
⅛ teaspoon salt
35g egg white (about 1 medium egg white)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
¼ teaspoon of natural almond extract
1. Place 150 grams of icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor, add the almonds and apricot kernels, then blend on high speed for about 40 seconds until the mixture is very fine and floury. Add the remaining 100 grams of icing sugar and salt, then mix again for a further 40 seconds. Add the egg white, vanilla, and almond extract, then mix one last time until the mixture comes together into a smooth, doughy dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean, dry counter, press it down, and fold it in half a few times with the help of a spatula. The dough will be quite sticky, so the scraper is essential to help manipulate it. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge overnight.
2. The next day, place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 160°C (325°F/Gas mark 3). Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap it (keep the cling film) and rework it by pressing and folding a few times. The dough should feel much firmer than the day before, but the scraper will still be useful. Divide the dough into small pieces, about seven grams each. Keeping the size as consistent as possible between cookies will ensure even baking, but if you don’t want to weigh individual cookies one by one, you can use a teaspoon to make small servings: seven grams is just over half. a teaspoon.
4. Roll each piece of dough between the palms of your hands into a small ball, then place on the lined baking sheet, leaving at least two inches between them. Shape just enough cookies to fill a baking sheet (about 15), wrap the rest of the dough back in your cling film, and store in the fridge until you’re ready to make another batch.
5. Lightly flatten the top of each ball with your thumb. Use a water-filled spray bottle to drizzle water over the cookies until their surface is completely wet: a few drops will drip onto the cookies and possibly pool on the parchment paper. This is perfectly acceptable, and will not be a problem. Quickly dust the tops of the wet cookies with a thin layer of icing sugar (you will see the sugar disappear as it falls on the wet cookies) and immediately place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 17-18 minutes until the cookies are a light caramel color.
6. Remove the cookies from the oven, slide the parchment paper onto a cooling rack, and allow the baking sheet to cool while you shape the next batch. Remove the cookies from the baking paper only when they are at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Quadrille publishes Giuseppe’s Italian Bakes by Giuseppe Dell’Anno. Photography by Matt Russell. Available now.