Sunday, November 18, 2007

Stromboli in spinach

Had your share of cream and eggs? In between preparing for Thanksgiving and planning for Christmas? Feeling at a loss for a quick little savoury? Still in a rolling mood? Let's try a bready roll, filled with pizza elements. The official stromboli, apart from being a vulcano, is in essence a rolled variant of pizza. The dough however is more bready.

The name of this particular kind of bread stems from the holes you prick in the top prior to baking. The cheese filling will ooze out, resembling the lava from the vulcano.
What I liked about my version is the addition of spinach. My kids love the canneloni dish (I'm afraid it's in Dutch...) I make and keep asking for it (and I keep stalling because I tend to make a mess in the kitchen preparing). So I came up with this variation in an easy to eat, easy to slice, happy party-goer.

This particular dough was made using a biga, or a pre-ferment which you leave out on the counter overnight. Don't be scared by the terms, it's no more than mixing a part of flour, water and a tiny speck of yeast. Make the biga like this, cover and leave it on the counter for 6 hours or so, punch down by sticking a knife in it and store in the fridge for later use, but do make sure your container is big enough!

1.2/3 cups warm water
1/4 ts instant yeast
3.3/4 cup unbleached ap flour/bread flour
Mix and knead to a stiff ball of dough, approx. 10 minutes and you're done!

For the dough you'll use:
300 gr. biga (10.75 ounces)
460 gr. bread flour/ap flour (16 oz)
100 gr. semolina (or sub bread flour)
290 gr. tepid water (a little over 1 cup)
1.1/2 ts yeast

2 ts salt
1/4 cup olive oil
(I added some dried herbs in the dough as well, go for italian mix or oregano)

Mix all of this in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix on low speed for about 10 minutes. You might want to cut the biga in small pieces with a pair of scissors, or pull pieces off with your hands, and mix it in the flour. You could leave it whole but it will clump a little and incorporate less easy.
The result will be a very soft elastic dough, a little sticky, not exactly a firm ball of dough and it will stretch when you get it out of the bowl to let it rest in an oiled bowl. Let this proof for 1 hour or so, it will nearly double in size.

In the meantime, get your filling ready, no real guide lines here, you might as well sort through your fridge and see what you have that would give you a nice filling. But this is what I did:

4-6 tbs dried breadcrumbs (and some extra to use as a base layer)
500 gr spinach (frozen, squeeze well to get rid of the moisture)
250 gr ricotta
1/3 cup grated cheese
pepper and salt (Combine in a bowl and mix well.)
300 gr sausage meat, removed from their casings
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
oregano, pepper, salt
smoked paprika powder, ground
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Combine the latter and brown slowly on medium heat in a skillet. I didn't use any oil/butter here, the sausage meat doesn't need any extra, just make sure you start slow.

grated cheese
salami, thin slices
mozzarella, sliced
Your dough should be almost ready by now, turn it out on a floured counter (silpat mat), divide into thirds and starting with one, roll into to a rectangle, not too thin, about 1/2 cm.

Sprinkle a thin layer of breadcrumbs on top, leaving a border on each side. Make sure you divide your filling into thirds as well and spread the spinach over the top, again watch the borders. (You could use a scraper but in the end there's nothing better than your hands to do this).

Deck with sausage mixture, spread evenly and top with cheese, mozzarella and salami. Now, get ready to roll, starting with the longer side.

What I like to do here is to fold the shorter sides inwards first. It will help prevent the filling squeezing out on the ends.The hard part is to get your roll evenly shaped. As you go along try to tweak a little here and there, some pulling and stretching. Whatever you do, make sure you're not stretching the dough too thin. Let the rolls rest, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat your oven at 400F. Just prior to baking, prick the stromboli with a skewer and punch holes all over the top. Apart from a nice effect this will also help let off steam from the filling while it cooks and keep your dough nice and crispy. Depending on how much cheese you use, you'll get the Stromboli effect. Aim for approx. 45 minutes baking time but keep an eye on it to prevent overbaking.


  1. This looks great, Karen. Yum.
    I LOVE that first picture. What drama! When it first appeared on the screen, I involuntarily yelled, "Ow!" and clutched my stomach!

  2. I want a slice - no 2 or 3 slices - right now!! This looks beautiful Karen! Your boys are really the lucky ones with a baker like you in the house!!

  3. Yes, I think I'll need more than one of these! Jason made stromboli for us onece and it was heavenly! Great bread that makes a meal. Yours is beautiful as usual!

  4. I have always wanted to be able to bake like this! I have some extra time on my hands this week, and this one looks too good to pass up. Wish me luck!

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  5. o wat lekker weer! (je bent weer een beetje beter?!) Heerlijk Stromboli, en mooi met die spinaziekrul erin.

  6. Your own stromboli? Wow, my husband would love you. I really need to branch out more.

  7. oh leuk! die ga ik ook maken!


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