It wasn’t on the streets of Palermo that we discovered Ravazzate, a shiny, egg-washed brioche bun that is filled with a rich meat ragu. No, it was in a hidden corner of Liverpool. As authentic as Sicilian bakeries come, Cose Buone is tucked away in St John’s Centre’s market hall, but no so tucked away that a visit in mid-afternoon means slim-pickings. There’s not a Cannoli to be found. People have found it and have begun a love affair.
Walking away that afternoon with a Ravazzata, an unforgettable discovery was made. Sicilians are no strangers to brioche, working with it across sweet and savoury take away bakes, or ‘street foods’ in modern parlance. The balance of the slightly sweet dough, made more decadent with the inclusion of fats, and the deeply flavoured beef and sausage sauce in the middle, is everything a carnivorous diner on the move could wish for.
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Here’s a recipe for a basket full of Ravazzate to keep a family and guests happy, possibly with a fresh Italian lager or glass of Chianti in the other hand. The meat sauce is straightforward, using easily accessible ingredients, so no straying into the realms of offal this time around. The dough has relatively little yeast and a long rise, meaning patience is needed, but the flavour and texture is well worth the wait as the buns come steaming out of the oven.
Bake them and get a sense of the rapid-fire atmosphere of a pacey Sicilian bakery.
- Servings: 13
- For the dough:
- 50g sugar
- 500g type 00 flour
- 10g salt
- 235g room temperature water
- 5g instant yeast
- 50g lard or vegetable oil
- For the meat ragu:
- 200g minced beef
- 200g Italian sausage (or pork sausage and 1tsp fennel seeds)
- 45g carrot
- 45g white onion
- 145g tomato puree
- 50g white wine
- 150g peas
- 100g water
- 3 bay leaves
- 30g extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To decorate:
- 1 egg
- Sesame seeds
- 1To begin making the dough, sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Use a mixer equipped with a hook if you have one, otherwise work by hand. Add the sugar and yeast and mix well.
- 2Slowly add the water while mixing, working to a slow need as a dough forms. Then add the salt and the lard in pieces (or slowly pour in vegetable oil), taking care that the fat is incorporated before adding more.
- 3As the dough comes away from the side of the bowl, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead further by hand for a few minutes. Bring it into a ball, cover the bowl with a damp towel or cling film and allow it to rise for around 4 hours at room temperature.
- 4To start the ragu, finely chop the onion and carrots, adding all to lightly oiled frying pan and fry for 5 – 10 minutes. Then add the minced beef and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- 5Remove the sausage from the skins and add them to the meat and vegetables, frying for five further minutes before adding the white wine. Allow the wine to evaporate almost completely.
- 6Put the tomato puree into a bowl, add approximately three tablespoons of cold water to dilute it. Add it to the pan with salt, black pepper and then add the bay leaves. The mixture can be left to cook for around 30 minutes on a low heat, adding more water if necessary.
- 7After the cooking time has passed, add the peas and continue to cook the sauce for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, pour the sauce into a bowl, leave to cool and then place in the fridge. The mix must be cold before making the buns.
- 8After the dough has risen to around double its original size over 4 hours, divide it into pieces of around 65g, forming a ball with each and leaving each to rest on a lined baking tray for a further hour.
- 9Once the hour has passed, preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C convection oven). Take each ball and press them lightly to form a disc into which you can place around one and a half tablespoons of the meat ragu, leaving an edge to fold up around the sauce.
- 10With the meat sauce in the middle of the disc, bring up the edge with your fingertips, either working clockwise around the disc or top-to-bottom and left-to-right. Seal the filled bun by gently twisting the gathered corners together. Place each back on the baking tray, spaced apart to allow them to rise again in the oven.
- 11In a separate bowl, break an egg, whisk and brush the dough balls all over and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and leave to cool a little before eating.