Fiadoni (cheese puffs)
Fiadoni are baked cheese puffs from the Abruzzo region that resemble oversized ravioli.
These are delicious when warm as the cheeses release their aromas through their ‘peep holes’, but also make great portable treats that can be eaten with your hands with ease.
Making them requires a few steps but your effort will be rewarded with its heavenly filling that is a pleasure to bite into and satisfying to taste.
Become the most wanted guest at the next friendly gathering, or, create a memorable welcome as the host at your dinner party with these fiadoni.
Fiadoni are a specialty of Abruzzo, the region that sits in the central-east part of Italy.
Also called ‘Easter ravioli’, Abruzzese tradition calls for eating fiadoni throughout the period of Easter.
However, the flavoursome fiadoni actually has its roots in the Emilia-Romagna region, and goes back many years in time, to the Renaissance period. The recipe of fiadoni was first mentioned in the cook book Libro nuvo nel qual s’insegna a far d’ogni sorte di vivande (1557) (‘The new book that teaches you to cook all kinds of food’) by the Cristoforo di Messisbugo, a steward of the House of Este in Ferrara.
It is a widely accepted theory that the use of saffron in the original recipe brought fiadoni to Abruzzo, which was the main region that produced saffron in those days in Italy.
Precious saffron has long been taken out of many recipes of the home cooks of Abruzzo, but fiadoni – sans saffron – have been kept throughout these years and are definitely here to stay!
Making fiadoni requires putting together a dough that is fun to make and ready in a few minutes.
Kneading time is minimal, but relaxing nonetheless. Once the dough is ready, it gets rolled, cut, then filled, much like how ravioli are prepared.
The stuffing is a simple mix of sharp and mild Italian cheeses that are gently bound together with the help of a few eggs.
They create a creamy stuffing that will fill the air in your home with all sorts of cheesy aromas as they bake, almost like a preview to the delectable main show that awaits your palate.
The original recipe requires rigatino cheese, which is a semi-hard cheese made from sheep’s and cow’s milk from the Abruzzo region. However, as with many popular regional Italian recipes, nobody will blame you if you play around with the filling according to your personal preference.
Use the recipe here as a guideline, add some ham, or mix up the cheeses based on what you can readily find. Just remember to use the best that you can find.
Place the flour with a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together two of the eggs with the oil and wine.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon, bring the mixture together, then use your hands to knead the dough.
Tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth and elastic.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside whilst you prepare the filling.
For the filling: combine the cheeses, 2 eggs, yeast and pepper in a bowl.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Work with half of the dough at a time, for ease. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 2-4mm thick – the thickness is a personal preference.
Cut out 10cm circles and place one tablespoon of filling in the centre of each circle.
Fold over and pinch the dough with your fingers to seal. Use a fork to secure the edges if you wish. Transfer the fiadoni to the baking tray.
Lightly whisk the egg yolk with a dash of milk or water and brush the tops of the fiadoni. Using a sharp knife, make a small incision in the top of each.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed up and golden.
Fiadoni are best served warm.