Florentine Pizza Rolls

Pizza dough swirls filled with a tomato, basil pesto, wilted spinach and a grated mozzarella cheese mix. Finished with a cheese topping and baked in a semolina dusted Roaster for a crunchy finish. This tear-and-share loaf is ideal for parties and family meals or it can be divided into individual or smaller portions, packed into sealed plastic bags and frozen. Simply defrost for a quick lunch or a snack on the go.


Serves 12 rolls

Preparation Time

Cook time

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Cook's NoteFor a variation add some chopped cooked bacon or ham to the filling.
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For the dough

  • Approx. 400ml hand-hot water
  • 1 tablespoon dried active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 700g (1 ½ lb) strong plain flour + extra for rolling
  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the filling

  • 5 – 6 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 5 tablespoons fresh chilled or jarred ready-made basil pesto
  • 300g washed baby spinach leaves – wilted
  • 150g mozzarella cheese – drained and coarsely grated
  • 150g mature cheddar cheese – coarsely grated
  • Black pepper
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons coarse semolina or polenta – for dusting
  • Butter for greasing


Measure 200ml of hot but not boiling water from the kettle into a heat-proof jug and top up to 400ml with cold water. Stir in the dried yeast with the sugar. Leave for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate then stir in the olive oil. The yeast is ready when the top has developed thick foam.

Sieve the flour into a large warm bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm yeasty liquid.

Work the mixture together using a large spatula or your hands until it leaves the sides of the bowl and forms dough. The dough should be slightly wet, but not sticky – if it seems a little dry add a little more water.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead for 5 – 6 minutes until it has become smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with some oiled cling film and set to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take around 40 – 60 minutes depending on the warmth of the rising place.

Turn the risen dough out onto a freshly floured work surface and knock out the air created during the first rising by kneading 3 – 4 times.

Roll out the dough, using a little more flour to stop the dough from sticking, into a rectangle 48 cm x 25 cm. Spread the surface with the tomato paste followed by the pesto, leaving a 2cm gap along both long sides of the dough. Scatter over the wilted spinach leaves, followed the grated mozzarella and ¾ of the grated cheddar cheese.

Dampen the long edge furthest away from you with a little water, then roll up the rectangle from the other side to enclose the filling. Make sure the work surface is well dusted with flour. Cut the roll into 12 rounds approximately 4 cm thick using a large, sharp Chef’s Knife, taking care not to squash the rolls.

Grease the Roaster with butter and dust the surface with 2 – 3 tablespoons of the semolina or polenta. Place the dough rolls cut side up into the roaster, forming 4 rows of 3 rolls each, leaving an equal amount of space around each one. Cover the roaster with a sheet of lightly oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 – 40 minutes or until doubled in size. To aid the rising process, warm the Roaster first by placing it into a low heat oven for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven 15 minutes before the end of the second rising to 200°C.

Remove the clingfilm from the rolls, sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese, and place the roaster on a central rack in the oven. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes.