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Cooked Ham Swirl Brioche Rolls Recipe

Girelle salate con il prosciutto a colazione (o merenda)

Savory or Sweet Breakfast?

No sweets for me. And breakfast at the bar. Savory swirled brioche roll (girella salata) and macchiato freddo double espresso.
Although in these weeks of Covid-19 quarantine, everything has changed.
All bars are closed and it means breakfast at home.

Cooked Ham Swirled Brioche Rolls Like at the Bar

Like everyone else, I, too, gave up some little things that marked my daily life.
Especially the beloved bar’s espresso. Not to mention savory and buttery swirled brioche roll, sometimes even still warm, from Il Gelatauro in Bologna. A place that is my favorite all in one ice cream-chocolate lab-bar. And which, fortunately for me, is also close to home.

Until a few weeks ago, this was my breakfast ritual from Monday to Friday (on weekends bar’s breakfast would join me at home thanks to my sometimes-loving husband. “Sometimes” because if he was perfect he wouldn’t be human).

I don’t know where you currently live. But if you’re in quarantine, probably something has changed for you too. What do you miss most about your daily life before the virus?
For sure I miss my double morning espresso. But I found a solution for the swirled brioche roll.

Cooked Ham Swirl Brioche Rolls.

But before the recipe, two things.

Probably, when you think of brioche, you automatically think sweet and fluffy breakfast rolls. But in Italy we call brioche many different versions of them. Sweet and savory breakfast brioches can be fluffy and tall or buttery but crunchier than pillowy.

Second things. I made swirled brioche rolls for breakfast because at the moment all the bars in Bologna are closed and I love starting the day with a savory taste. Anyway, this recipe works well also like merenda, aperitivo or meal buffet.

Although here on the blog, under BREAKFAST on the menu, you will find many sweet recipes, as you know, I like everything that savory repertoire has to offer: focaccia, pizza, filled sandwiches, any kind of toast (if you’re looking for a good recipe for no-knead loaf bread, look at this recipe), salumi, cheese and scrambled eggs.

At the bar.

I love simple croissant and wholemeal croissant with seeds, both savory, and swirl, especially the one with ham.

One of my favorite breakfast bar has its own lab where they make chocolate, ice cream, cookies, cakes. As well as sweet and savory croissants and brioches for breakfast.
Except for “my” savory swirl and a few other things, produced by an another always artisanal laboratory.

Everything’s fine until one morning, I don’t find my favorite salad.
So soon, already finished? I asked. No, worse. The answer is that the other laboratory has decided to stop collaborating because, for economic reasons, they don’t want to produce those brioches that have a long processing and need expensive ingredients.
No more savory swirl.

The scene ends on a moment of cosmic sadness.
The next one, it opens on smiling faces.

Savoury Brioches

Mine, for sure.

And also of all the lovers of the swirled brioche roll when we heard that in the internal laboratory of the bar had begun the experiments to make them.

And since I often develop recipes from scratch for work and pleasure, I have combined my experiments with those of Gianni, Cosimo and Andrea (the Gelatauri).

We both came to an interesting result, certainly mine is more homely, but what none of us could imagine was being on the eve of a pandemic.

So it’s completely fortuitous if I face quarantine with an army of savory brioches in the freezer.

For now, my first morning breakfast is almost like breakfast at the bar, but at home. Double macchiato freddo espresso and one swirl brioche roll.

I say almost because the freedom to go out is priceless. And the espresso in the bar is incomparable, especially that of the Gelatauri.

I’m staying home, what about you?

Good quarantine cooking, Monica.

Cooked Ham Swirled Brioche Roll Like at the Bar

Cook and Share: if you make one of my recipes, take a pic and hashtag it #tortelliniandco. I’ll love to see your creations on Instagram.

Cooked Ham Swirl Brioche Rolls Recipe

About 20 swirl brioche rolls

flour 0, 500g + about 70g + one handful
fresh brewer’s yeast, 12g
lukewarm water, 260ml
butter, 120g + 40g for brushing
acacia or millefiori honey, 40g
cooked ham, 250g
fine sea salt, 7g


Cut butter into little cubes and set aside, outside the fridge, for about ten minutes (if it is very hot, 5 minutes).

Melt yeast in lukewarm/warm water (not boiling), stirring. Set aside.

Mix 500g of flour, honey and water where you have melted the yeast.

If you have kneading machine:

start kneading with “C” dough hook at speed 1, for a few minutes. When the dough begins to become compact, add a few cubes of butter, after two minutes the salt and then, a little at a time, the butter cubes until it is all in.

Once all the ingredients have been inserted, continue kneading at speed 1 for another 10 minutes or so.

If you knead by hand:

Start kneading and when the dough starts to become compact, even if it is still made of big crumbs, add some butter cubes, little by little and always kneading between one addition and another. When you have incorporated half the butter, add salt, knead for a few minutes and then add all the butter.

Knead vigorously for 5-6 minutes.

Cooked Ham Swirled Brioche Roll Like at the Bar

Once finished kneading, by hand or with the machine, help yourself with a spatula and pour the dough, still buttery and sticky, on a clean surface dusted with half of the 70g of flour indicated separately. Knead for another 10 minutes until smooth and soft adding all the flour if you need.

Let the dough rest in a bowl covered with film and then from a dish towel for 30 minutes.


Cooked Ham Swirled Brioche Roll Like at the Bar

After this time, dust the cutting board with a handful of flour, pour the dough and, without kneading it, roll it out with a rolling pin in a rectangle of about 50cmx33cm.

Melt 40g of butter in a saucepan and brush the whole surface. Then cover with slices of cooked ham and roll up from the long side.


You’re almost at the end.
Cooked Ham Swirled Brioche Roll Like at the Bar



Cut the swirls about 1.5cm wide, place them on a clean surface leaving one or two cm because they will rise. Cover with film and a couple of clean towels and let rise for two hours at room temperature.


After two hours, place brioche rolls, helping you with a spatula, on a baking dish covered with kitchen paper, again, leave a couple of cm among them.

Cook in preheated oven, (180 degrees, static oven) for 12-13 minutes.

For the second baking, maybe about ten minutes may be enough. If you like them golden, give them a few more minutes.

Let it cool.

If you don’t have to eat them all right away, keep the swirls in a bag and put them in the freezer, taking them out if necessary. They defrost in a hurry.

Savoury Brioches


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