A tortano is really nothing more or less than an Italian stuffed bread. You can stuff it with anything you like. In this case, I filled it with cheddar, salami and pesto.


Tortano with cheddar

Before I got hold of Leila Lindholm’s book, I had never heard of tortano. But a tortano is simply an Italian bread that you can fill with anything you like.

The tortano comes from the area around Napels and is shaped in a ring. Apparently it looks a bit like a tart, hence the name tortano. Like a pie you also cut it into similar pieces. Leila tells us that originally the bread is stuffed with boiled eggs but you can of course add anything to the filling. Leila gives 9 examples of fillings but I chose to do another one, with the things I had on hand. I added some herbs into the dough itself and then filled it with the homemade pesto I had made earlier in the week, some leftover salami and a rich cheddar.

Making the Tortano

As with almost all types of bread (except skillet bread or no-knead bread), the dough needs to be kneaded and then left to rise. So you have to be patient, but I found the dough manageable. And I’m not known for my patience when it comes to letting dough rise, so if I can… ….

It didn’t start out so well, as I had made the dough in the Kitchen aid but it stayed incredibly sticky. I did a little bit of kneading by hand but – lazy person that I am – decided to just risk it and put it in a bowl to rise. Of course it didn’t rise at all and just looked like a pile of blah at the bottom of the bowl after 40 minutes.

I heaved a big sigh, took it out of the bowl and started kneading away. The time it had sat in the bowl did make it a bit less sticky so once I was done kneading it was a pretty nice and smooth dough. I just should have done it an hour earlier but hey, I still did it! I then let it rise again for 45 minutes and while it was supposed to double in size, I think it didn’t exactly do that but it looked good and so I proceeded to the next step.

Stuffing the bread

Once the bread has risen nicely, it’s time to push it out and fill it with your choice of filling. Remember that the bread gets quite heavy when the filling is in it, so have a baking tray handy. It is important not to roll the dough, but to push it. This keeps more air in the dough and the end result is tastier.

Once you have a rectangular slice, you can spread the pesto, sprinkle with the cheddar and top with the salami slices. Leave a wide edge on the sides so you can glue the Italian bread together. This is best done with a little water.

Roll up and bake

Next, roll the dough lengthways to make a long roll. Fold the ends together and stick together with a little water. Put your tortano on a baking tray and leave to rise (covered with a tea towel) for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 250˚C and as soon as you put the bread in, reduce the temperature to 200˚C. Bake for about 30-35 minutes and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve as part of a meal or with a drink.


Tortano with cheddar and salami

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Delicious filled Italian bread with pesto, cheddar and salami
View recipe in Dutch
Decorative clock showing preparation time
Prep time 1 hour
Cooking time 35 minutes
Total time 1 hour 35 minutes

8 people


  • 7 gr instant yeast or 15 gr fresh yeast
  • 300 ml luke warm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1,5 tbsp salt
  • 175 gr bread flour type 00
  • 275 gr all purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp pesto
  • 100 gr salami
  • 75 gr grated cheddar

How to make the tortano

  • Crumble your fresh yeast in a bowl or sprinkle your dried yeast into the bowl. Add the water and stir. Add the olive oil, honey and salt.
  • While turning your machine add the two types of flour to the bowl and knead until you have an elastic dough. Take about 10 minutes.
  • Put some olive oil in a large bowl and rub it on the sides. Put your dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean teatowel en leave to rise for about 40 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Push your dough (don’t roll it as that will lose too much of the air) till you have a rectangular shape of about 1 cm thickness.
  • Cover the dough with your filling of choice. In this case spread the pesto over the dough, leaving the sides open, cover that with the salami and end by spreading the cheddar over the bread.
  • Brush some water on the sides of the bread and rol it to a thick sausage. Bend the ends together and stick them together using water.
  • Preheat the oven to 250˚ C (425˚F)
  • Put your tortano on a baking plate covered with baking paper. Sprinkle a little flour on top, cover with a clean teatowel and leave to rise for another 30 minutes.
  • Put your bread in the oven and lower the temperature to 200˚ C (400˚F). Bake the bread for about 30-35 minutes and leave to cool on a roster.

Nutrition Information per portion

Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 1724mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 246IU | Vitamin C: 0.02mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 2mg


The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.

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Simone van den Berg

Food blogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Likes to create healthy and easy recipes for daily use, but also loves the occasional sweet dish. Lives in the Netherlands with her two cats; Humphrey and Buffy. Profession: Food photographer, food blogger, recipe developer and nutritionist