Santa Chiara’s Savoury Cake

Gattò Santa Chiara

The name of this delicious, savoury cake comes from the days when it was prepared by the nuns of the Santa Chiara Convent near Naples. Serve it just warm in thin slices, perhaps with a dish of olives and dried tomatoes, for your guests or family to nibble on over a glass of cold white wine, while they wait for the main part of the meal. It also makes a delicious afternoon snack. Incidentally, Santa Chiara is also the patron saint of television!

Ingredients

  • 9 oz (250 g) plain white flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1 oz (25 g) fresh yeast or ¼ oz (7 g) Easy blend yeast or ½ oz (15 g) dried yeast
  • oz (120 g) unpeeled potatoes
  • salt
  • 4 oz (100 g) prosciutto crudo, in thickish slices
  • 2 oz (50 g) lard or butter, cut into small pieces
  • 5 oz (150 g) mozzarella cheese, diced

Method

If you are using fresh or dried yeast, put 4 tablespoons of the flour into a small bowl and add the yeast. Mix together with enough warm water to make a very wet, soft batter. Cover with a napkin and put in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in volume. If you are using Easyblend yeast, simply mix it into all the flour - no liquid is needed.

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Cut the prosciutto into finger-sized strips. Put the dry flour on the table, make a hollow in the centre with your fist and add a pinch of salt. Drain the potatoes, peel them and mash them into the hollow in the flour.

Add the risen flour and yeast mixture and knead the flour and potatoes together with three-quarters of the lard or butter and another pinch of salt. Slap and knead energetically until everything is well blended and the dough is very light to handle. Add the mozzarella and the prosciutto and knead for a further 10 minutes.

Grease a 10 inch (25 cm) cake tin with the remaining lard or butter and flour it very lightly, tipping it upside down to remove excess flour. Put the kneaded dough in the tin and place it somewhere warm to rise for 1½–2 hours. It should double in volume. Bake it in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C) for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

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