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A Renaissance Recipe: Bartolomeo Scappi's Fruit-Filled Cinnamon Twists

Thbook blends spicesis fantastic recipe is part of the Book Club Cookbook Blends Bash I jumped at the chance. If you aren't familiar with The Book Club Cookbook's Book, Song and Movie Blends, you are in for a treat. Their spice blends are high quality and super punny too. They make great gifts for any book, movie or music lover.
The blend that I used for this particular recipe is Of Spice and Men, a superior Indonesian Korintje Cinnamon.

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One of the best things about writing THE CHEF'S SECRET was the research, and in particular, cooking some of the 500-year old Renaissance periodization recipes I describe in the novel. And there were a lot of recipes I could try! In fact, there are over 1000 recipes in famous chef Bartolomeo Scappi's 1570 cookbook. In it we find a number of sweets, especially pies and pastries, including this rather complex and super delicious fruit-filled twist.
Scappi's instructions seem to indicate the pastry was one massive fruity cinnamon roll of sorts that was probably sliced up for guests. I played around with it, making a big pastry that could be cut apart, but also experimenting with individual sizes. In the end, I halved the recipe for this version, which makes eight individual pastries. 
The dough on this is not as flakey as some of the modern pastries of today, and is best eaten within a day or two, although you can freeze extra pastries and heat them up in the microwave or oven.
The original recipe calls for a leaven, which is how cooks for centuries made bread before commercially available yeast. Sourdough starter discard is perfect for use in this recipe. If you don't have a sourdough starter and want to start one, King Arthur Flour has both a recipe to start your own, or you can also buy a starter directly from them in their shop.  Before you use your starter to make the levain, make sure you feed it at least twice the day before you attempt this recipe--it helps with flavor and how the bread rises.

Scappi's Fruit-Filled
Cinnamon Twists

L'Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi - Book V. 124: To prepare a filled twist. 
8 servings


  • 1 cup (140g) dried currants ( has them, or just substitute more raisins)
  • 1 cup (140g) raisins
  • 1 cup (140g) pitted chopped dates
  • 1 cup (230g) red wine
  • 1/4 cup (0.75g) raw sugar (or light brown sugar if need to substitute)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I'm using the Of Spice and Men Book Blend)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves


  • 1/4 cup (50g) sourdough starter discard
  • 2/3 cup (158g) warm water
  • 3.5 cups (440g) flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp (1.5 oz) rosewater (I use Cortas)
  • 4 oz/8 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 beaten egg  

  • 2 1/2 tbsp confectioners sugar
  • 2 tsp rosewater


  1. Cook sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and dried fruits in red wine until soft and most of the wine has cooked off.  Keep an eye on don't want the sugars to caramelize.
  2. Remove from heat, set aside and let cool.
  3. Mix sourdough discard with warm water until starter is mostly dissolved.
  4. Combine the starter/water mixture with flour, egg yolks, rosewater, butter and salt until incorporated into a dough.
  5. Mix in a mixer with a dough hook and let it knead for 6-7 minutes.  If mixing by hand, knead for 15-20 minutes.  You should have a very supple dough that easily slides off the dough hook without residue. You should also be able to shape and roll it without using additional flour.
  6. Spray a sheet pan with oil and set aside. Heat oven to 375 degrees/190 Celsius.
  7. Cut the dough into four even pieces. When not rolling out a piece of dough, keep the others in the refrigerator.
  8. Roll the first piece of dough into a thin rectangular piece. If desired, cut the edges with a pastry cutter so that you have an even rectangle.  Cut this rectangle in half the long way through the rectangle.
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  9. Take a 1.5 tablespoons of the cooled fruit filling and spread it across the bottom of the rectangle.

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  10. Carefully roll up the dough until it's a long roll.

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  11. Roll this up again, so it is shaped like a cinnamon roll and tuck the end underneath  Scappi would have said, rolled up like a snail shell or "a maze." Set the twists onto the oiled sheet pan. 

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  12. Repeat with the other three pieces of dough.
  13. Cover with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
  14. Brush the twists with the beaten egg.
  15. Cook for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is browned.  Depending on the oven you may need to turn it a few times.

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  16. If desired, make a glaze from confectioner's sugar and rosewater for the finished twists.
  17. Best served warm. YUM. 
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If you make this dish, I'd love to know how it tasted! Tag me @crystallyn on Twitter or @crystallyn14 on Instagram and share your photos online with the hashtag #TheChefsSecret. 

Want more Renaissance recipes?