Also known as sebadas, these Sardinian deep-fried pastries are filled with fresh pecorino and drizzled with honey. They were originally eaten by shepherds as a main course and a way of using up their abundance of sheep’s-milk cheese. Sardinia has a long history of honey production, with many producers still using traditional cork beehives. Honey varieties include chestnut, asphodel and thistle, but corbezzolo, a bittersweet variety native to Sardinia, is traditionally used for this dish. As it is difficult to find in Australia, we've used chestnut honey instead.
- 200 g (1⅓ cups) plain flour, plus extra, to dust
- 50 g fine semolina
- 40 g unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tbsp dry white wine
- 150 g fresh pecorino (see Note), grated
- 2 lemons, zested
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- vegetable oil, to deep-fry
- 270 g (¾ cup) chestnut honey (see Note)
- 8 thyme sprigs
- 1 orange, zested into thin strips
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 30 minutes
You will need a 7 cm-round fluted pastry cutter for this recipe.
Sift flour and semolina into a large bowl. Add 100 ml cold water, butter, wine, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and mix to form a dough. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for 8 minutes or until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine pecorino, lemon zest and thyme leaves in a bowl and set aside.
Line 2 trays with baking paper and lightly dust with flour. Cut dough in half and roll out each piece until 2 mm thick; you can also do this using a pasta machine. Using a 7 cm-round fluted pastry cutter, cut out 24 rounds and place on trays. Cover with a tea towel to prevent dough drying out. Brush 12 rounds with egg white, then top with 2 teaspoons cheese mixture. Top with remaining rounds, pressing edges to seal and remove air.
Fill a deep-fryer or large saucepan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Working in batches, gently drop pastries into oil and fry, turning halfway, for 4 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
To make syrup, place honey, thyme sprigs and orange zest in a small saucepan over low heat and warm, stirring, for 3 minutes or until honey is runny and infused. Drizzle over pastries and serve immediately.
• Fresh pecorino is creamier and milder in flavour than aged pecorino. It is available from select delis and cheese shops.
• Chestnut honey is a dark and spicy honey and is from select Italian delis and cheese shops. Substitute with any strong, fruity honey.
Photography Chris Chen. Food Preparation Phoebe Wood. Styling Vivien Walsh
As seen in Feast magazine, September 2014, Issue 35.