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Lagane e Ceci (Pasta & Chickpea Soup)

  Lagane e Ceci is a well-known southern Italian dish whose roots stem from ancient times when legumes were the staple ingredients, easily accessible with a very long shelf life.  Chickpeas, beans or lentils were alternated and cooked with hand made pasta, feeding the whole family.  This soup is made with dried chickpeas and hand-made ribbons of eggless pasta, but can also be made with  canned chickpeas which are just as good,  and  a short store-bought pasta like ditaletti. Mamma would make it this way when she was time poor.   We however preferred this soup with home-made pasta, rendering it more creamy. Lagane are believed to be the ancestors of today’s lasagne and the oldest form of pasta. The word lagane , like lasagna , comes from ancient Greece where it was used to describe a pasta made of flour and water, cooked on a stone, and then cut into strips. The Roman statesman  Cicero wrote about his passion for the Laganum  or laganas  and the Roman poet Horace, whose writings a

Cucina Conversations: Rosette di Pane (Rosette Bread Rolls)

Rosette Soffiate, or puffed rosette rolls are probably one of the hardest bread types I have attempted to make.  It has taken me many attempts and still cannot claim that I have achieved the hollow centre being 'the' inherent characteristic of this Italian panino.  This month, our CucinaConversations topic is all about bread, and provides us with an opportunity to learn more about the many bread types found in the different regions of Italy. There are claims that there are over 350 types of bread in Italy, of which many are specific to their regions while others are more widespread and exist based around religious, utilitarian or prepared for celebrations.  

This rosetta roll is ideal and typically used for fillings due to its hollow centre. In the Friuli-Venezia region of Italy, a region which borders Austria, rosette rolls are similar to Austrian bread, and have a soft, compact crumb.  Like those in Austria, they are sprinkled with poppy seeds. Rosette rolls produced in Milan are larger than the rosette described above, and are called michette.  In the Lazio region, the rosetta romana is high with an empty interior and quite large.  The characteristic hollow interior is produced with the aid of working the dough, long proving and a high oven temperature.   This hollow interior is known to be difficult to produce consistently and has been my obsession for the past month.

These rolls were part of the breakfast spreads I enjoyed in Rome a few years ago; firm, crusty, delicious rolls that you break with your hands and spread with butter and jam.  I had a desire to make rosette since seeing the recipe in Paola Bacchia’s book Italian Street Food, as it revived memories of these rolls been slathered with nutella as part of my snack as a child.  The ingredients are basic and the recipe is easy to follow; surely they could not be difficult to realize, I told myself.  Reading through the method, one sentence clearly stood out. ‘If your rolls are not hollow inside, don’t worry too much…’  Reassured I set myself the task one morning planning out the steps and time required so that we could enjoy these panini for either lunch or dinner. And so we did, except that elusive hollow centre was now playing on my mind. Don’t get me wrong, the rolls were crisp on the outside and had a lovely soft crumb and the family eagerly requested for a second and third batch to be made.  

The fascination began to set in; now it was all about them puffing up to achieve that hollow cavity. In addition to this roll having a distinctive rosette shape, taste, and texture I do remember them being almost completely hollow. I couldn’t imagine how dough consisting of plain flour, water and yeast was made to puff up in the oven like profiteroles. So my obsessive research began.  It took me to Carol Field’s words on baking bread and the many YouTube clips focusing on the additional technique required in folding and working the dough. 

What have I learnt thus far?  To achieve the hollow centre the dough requires several proving periods for it to have the strength to raise itself to the point where the dough is inflated, some specific folding techniques thrown in and a very hot oven. I also learnt that behind every memorable bite of proper Italian bread eaten, we have a biga to thank, and in Carol Field’s book, The Italian Baker there is a whole section on regional and rustic breads where she describes this traditional Italian pre-ferment and the many variations of biga.  

A Google search also provided a lot of visual information about shaping the rosette, and all reinforcing the point that it is quite difficult to get the rolls hollow centre. I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained.  With much reading done, in the end I came across this helpful video of a nonna demonstrating the shaping process of these rolls which appears quite effortless as nonne know how to do well! A word of warning though, this is not bread you whip up overnight if you are hoping to get that hollow centre.  In fact let me break the suspense right here.  After four attempts I only just managed to get some tiny air pockets in a few of my rolls and yes it's perfectly ok if you don't achieve that elusive hollow centre as the soft crumb is lovely to spread that nutella on.  And as Paola suggests in her book, you can always remove some crumb to make room for your filling!

So if you would like to try it for yourself, roll up your sleeves, collect your patience and baking tools and let’s make rosette rolls and fingers crossed that for you they will end up soffiate (puffed).

Rosette di Pane (Rosetta Bread Rolls)
Makes 8 rosette rolls

This recipe has been adapted from Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia and this video recipe I found helpful in assisting with the visual steps involved in shaping the dough and rolls.

Note: I have also adjusted the quantity of flour and water to produce slightly firmer biga. For this recipe, a stand mixer is recommended for the preparation of the dough.

The Biga:
Many of the recipes for classic regional breads begin with starter dough made from small amounts of flour, water, and yeast allowing this initial fermentation. Not only does it give strength to weak flours, it also produces a secondary fermentation from which comes the wonderful aroma, natural flavour, and special porosity of the final loaves of bread produced. Their risings are long bringing out the flavour of the grain and the loaves remain fresher and taste sweeter than those made with large amounts of commercial yeast. 
  •     400 g strong bread flour
  •     175 ml water (room temperature)
  •     4 g fresh yeast

Final Dough:
  •      40 g of plain (all-purpose) flour
  •      55 ml water (room temperature)
  •      4 g malt or sugar (I used sugar)
  •      8 g salt
  •      olive oil for brushing

For the biga, dissolve the yeast in the water and then add to the flour in the mixer bowl. Mix the biga using the stand mixer for 3 to 4 minutes. Note that the dough does not mix to a smooth consistency and will appear dry and very much unmixed.  Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 16 – 20 hours at 20 C.  I left mine for 20 hours.

For the final dough, dissolve the sugar in water and mix into the biga, and then add the flour and mix for 6 minutes at speed 1 and then a further 6 minutes at speed 2. Aim for a very smooth, elastic and firm dough.

Transfer the dough to a board, and shape into a boule. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 10 – 15 minutes.

Roll out on a board (view video for the details of the folding processes) 2 x book folds, cover and leave for 15 minutes. Roll out again. 2 x book folds, cover and leave for 15 minutes.

Roll up the oblong shape into a ball. Brush with a little olive oil and cover with cling film. Leave for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into quarters and then into eighths. Each portion should weigh roughly 81 g, then roll each portion into balls on floured board. Flatten, then do the special folding of the four corners like gathering a napkin, trying to keep air in the centre of the ball. Pinch together and then turn over and gently shape into balls with a cupped hand, rotating on a clean board.

Cover in cling film and leave balls for 30 minutes. Dust the tops with flour and then cut them with an apple cutter. Just an additional note on this: They suggest almost all the way through, however when I did this, my rosettes opened up too much while baking. The first time I trialed hand scoring using a razor blade and I quite liked that method. The last 2 attempts I went back to the apple cutter but didn't press so deep. Once scored, turn over the balls of dough and tuck the corners into a ball shape.  (view video as it is much easier to understand  than to describe in words)

Place cut side down on a lightly floured tray. Cover and leave for 45 – 60 minutes. I left mine for 60 minutes, until they begin to rise. Meanwhile preheat oven as high as it will go.

Turn the rolls over so they are the right way up for baking.  Place on a tray lined with baking paper and into the pre-heated oven.  Add boiling water from the kettle into a tray and place below the rolls and shut the oven door. The video shows the additional spraying of a mist of water during the first 10 minutes of baking. I omitted this step as I didn't have a spray bottle on hand.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 250 – 270 C. This will depend on your oven.  I baked my batch at 250 C (highest setting). for 25 minutes.

Remember to open the door for 5 seconds towards the end of the bake to release the steam; this helps the rolls to achieve that crisp outer crust.  Allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting into the roll.

Did I achieve that hollow centre? Well as you can see only a small air pocket amongst a fluffy mollica, so my challenge does not end here and I will resume bread baking in the cooler months of the new year.  

A note to self for next time: Try using malt instead of sugar, include the spraying of water while baking...and perhaps look into a new oven as my highest setting appears not to be high enough for these rolls! ;)
Let me know how you go!

Meanwhile do visit our other posts for this month's #cucinaconversations bread recipes. They include:
Tigelle typical of the Emilia-Romagna region at Pancakes & Biscotti 
Focaccia Ligure at  La Dani Gourmet  
Focaccia di Recco at Italian Kiwi Lisa


  1. Carmen, your rosette are beautiful! Well done on persevering. I would have been very happy to have been your guinea pig like your family members while you made this! And what gorgeous photos. Looking forward to meeting in person at last next month! xo

    1. Thank you Rosemarie,we enjoyed many panini for lunch. I am so excited that you are coming to Melbourne and I too look forward to our meeting. :)

    2. these are beautiful astonishing just like i had previously here

  2. They look fabulous Carmen - and well done to keep trying. Sei bravissima (and thanks for the mention) xx

    1. Grazie Paola! I actually found the process very therapeutic so thank you for inspiring me to give it a go. I think my next attempt will have to involve a wood fired oven! xx

  3. The rolls look fantastic, even without the hollow! It sounds like an interesting challenge though. You need to find a real live Nonna and stand beside her while she makes them! LOL!

    1. Yes! Totally agree Lisa. A nonna with a powerful oven too! Xx


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