I recently managed to buy a book I wanted to have for a quite long time, "la cucina Napoletana" (Neapolitan cuisine) written by Jeanne Carola Francesconi. This is sort of a "bible" in regards to classical Neapolitan cooking, full of classic, curiosities and information. This means you'll probably find a bit more Neapolitan cooking on this pages in the future :-). Francesconi, as her first name hints, comes from a family with French roots. This should not surprise there is a strong connection between Naples and France since (maybe even before) the Anjou dynasty ruled in southern Italy. Neapolitan cuisine was also dramatically influenced. Famous chefs were called Monzu (from Monsieur) and many French classics were adapted to the Neapolitan taste. I took inspiration from the book to prepare one of these "French" dishes, stuffed brioches, also called Danubio in Naples (Danube, as the river, no clue why). There are a few stuffed brioche recipes in the book (salami and cheese, vegetables, financiere). They might look like modern inventions: all are actually adapted from an early XIX century book, "Cucina Teorico Pratica", written by Ippolito Cavalcanti. It would be interesting to know if something similar is also baked in France. I went for the salami and cheese ones, because I like them and because I didn't have the ingredients for the other recipes.
To make these stuffed brioches I first made a normal brioche dough. I started with 400 g. bread flour (12.8 oz.), 4 eggs, 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast, 2 tsp sugar and salt (to taste). I let the dough rise 1 hour then mixed in 200 g. butter (6.4 oz) and let the dough rise 2 hours. Meanwhile I cut some salami and some smoked scamorza into small cubes. You can actually use ham or salt cured ham instead of salami in the stuffing, and well drained mozzarella or even emmenthaler as cheese. When the dough had finally doubled I started shaping the brioches. One could shape individual ones or, as I did, let them all bake together in a big cake mould. You take some dough, flatten it out in a circle, put the stuffing in the middle and then close the dough all around the stuffing. You can decide how big the brioches will be varying the amount of dough and stuffing. For a party I would make many small ones. Here I was making something to eat at work for lunch, therefore I went for a quite bigger size. Once the brioches are all shaped brush some diluted egg yolk on all of them and let rise for at least an hour. One of the reasons why I love making this kind of recipes is the quite childish pleasure I get from the "before/after" effect in the last rise. When the brioche had risen enough I brushed them again with the egg yolk and baked them for 20-30 minutes in the pre-heated oven (180C, 360F), till golden brown on top.
Once cool the finished brioches have a tasty filling made of the salami and melted cheese in their middle as you can see in the pic above. In my case the dough should have been a bit more salty as I forgot to taste if the salt was enough. The recipe is a bit time consuming but mainly because of the long waits in-between rises. Ideal for a rainy weekend afternoon.