As a young and impressionable lad I frequented Ask! Italian restaurants where I would always order the cheesy doughballs as my starter. A kind waiter once explained to me that their ovens heated up to 300° C — hence their always slightly carbonised edges. So treat your guests to a culinary explosion of cheesy goodness readers, but try to restrain yourself from eating too many: they can expand one’s waistline!
Ingredients: -250g strong white bread flour -150ml lukewarm water -7g yeast -1tbs fine salt (though I prefer the whopping crystal salt) -2tbs olive oil -50g Gouda, diced (1/2 cm works best) -50g dry cured salami diced (1/2 cm works best) -chili flakes (however many you can handle)
Method: Mix the yeast with the lukewarm water. If it starts to foam then it’s being activated. In a separate bowl, mix the salt and flour. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Into this well, pour the yeasty now-tepid water. At first mix them together with a wooden spoon. When the dough comes together, flop it onto a floured surface and knead it for a minimum of 8 minutes.
Now, put it back into the bowl from whence it came. Cover in some olive-oiled Clingfilm and leave to prove for an hour and a half in a warm place.
When it has doubled in size, re-knead it on a floured surface. Split the dough into three. Now roll out each of these three dough pieces into a flat circle.
Oil the three circles. Slicing vertically, split the circles into six strips. Press the Gouda cubes into half of the dough strips. Press the salami cubes into the other half of the dough strips. This next step separates the men from the boys. Sprinkle as much chili as you or your guests can handle on the strips.
Roll the strips into balls and seal off any fraying edges. You don’t want your delicious cheese slipping out. Either oil the outside of the Panzerottini or put them on baking paper.
In a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees, bake them for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Be careful not to burn them. A lot of work has gone into this dish.
Tips: Set aside a good deal of time for this. Beauty does not come easily. It kneads time and patience. Make sure the water is lukewarm not steaming or seething hot. Be kind to the yeast if you want it to be kind to you.
Now what you could do as a prank is sprinkle all the chili onto one strip. Whoever starts screaming wins the prize. I shall leave it to host’s prerogative to decide what the prize is.
Serving suggestions A nice BBQ dip or light cream cheese compliments this dish wonderfully. But neither are necessary.