You look at the image and you want some, right? That's what happened to me: I read about cappellacci dei briganti in the "Encyclopedia of Pasta" by Oretta Zanini De Vita and I immediately made a batch.
The word cappellaccio comes from cappello (hat). The suffix has a negative connotation, which matches the idea that they are worn by lawless characters. According to Zanini De Vita, this pasta is typical of Molise, the Italian region sandwiched between Abruzzo and Puglia. (Note that there is another type of pasta whose name includes cappellacci, namely cappellacci di zucca, a type of stuffed pasta typical of Ferrara.)
The name of this pasta shape evokes tales of travellers being ambushed and robbed by men wrapped in dark cloaks, their faces shadowed by tall hats. Despite the fearsome name, this pasta is quite cute and not particularly difficult to make, but it requires close attention to the movements of your hands.
My first attempt was successful, but I was not totally satisfied with the way my cappellacci looked after the required rest, so I searched the web and found an image in this article (in Italian, click on the magnifying glass icon to see the whole image), which gave me the idea of pressing the front of the brim against the conical portion of the hat. I tried it and liked the result, so that's how I have made my cappellacci dei briganti ever since.
You can see my hands at work in this short video — in which you can also hear my husband say "Action!"
As usual, my recommendation is to start by making un uovo di pasta, a small amount of dough, so you don't get overwhelmed by the task. When your hands become proficient at making cappellacci, you can increase the amount of dough and delight more people. To make the pasta dough, I used the KAF Pasta Blend previously mentioned and was happy with the result. For one extra-large egg, I weigh 80 g of flour. I then add more flour, as needed, to get a dough of the right consistency. It is better to have to add flour than to find yourself with a hard dough (my mother's wisdom).
- 80 g (a teaspoon less than 3 oz.) flour [see paragraph above] plus more as needed to obtain the dough
by my measuring, 80 g of King Arthur's Pasta Blend correspond to 1/2 cup, but this is not what the packaging states and in any case, I recommend you weigh the flour
- 1 extra-large egg
- A pinch of sea salt
On your work surface, create a well with the flour and crack the egg directly into it. Sprinkle the salt. Scramble the egg with a fork. Draw flour from the sides of the well into the center, mixing well with the egg.
Trade the fork for your fingertips. Draw flour until a soft dough forms. Add more flour, as needed. Continue to knead the dough, 8-10 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rest for an hour or so (at least half an hour).
Roll dough by hand or with a pasta machine. On my machine, I stop at the penultimate notch. Zanini De Vita mentions an inverted liqueur glass as implement to cut the circles from which to shape the cappellacci. A two-inch biscuit cutter is perfect for the task and actually, in my opinion, more comfortable to use than a glass.
Wrap one circle around the tip of your index finger (indice) to form a cone. Fold back the side of the brim opposite to the seam and press it against the cone, then slide the cappellaccio off the finger and place it upright on the lightly floured work surface, resting on the lateral sides of the brim. Make sure the index finger you are using as support to shape the pasta is floured, otherwise you won't be able to take the cappellaccio off at the end without misshaping it.
Knead together the cutouts (ritagli di pasta) and cover them while you work, then roll them again. Continue until all the dough is used. Let the cappellacci dry for at least a couple of hours, so they will hold their shape better while cooking. I usually make cappellacci in the morning, if I plan to cook them for lunch.
Boil in plenty of salted water. Always handle the cappellacci with a delicate touch, when you transfer them into the pot, when you stir them while cooking and then when you dress them. You will be rewarded with a truly pretty plate of pasta that will delight the eyes and palates of your guests.
I dress the cappellacci with my usual sugo di pomodoro. I have been carefully drawing from my stash of frozen strained roasted tomatoes, which is a joy to use and will last me until the new tomato crop comes around.
I will add this recipe to my growing collection of pasta shapes. Please, do let me know if you try your hand at making any of them.
I am submitting this recipe, bookmarked on the book "Encyclopedia of Pasta" by Oretta Zanini De Vita to Bookmarked Recipes #23, an event originally started by Ruth of Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments and now hosted by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes.
This post contains the roundup of the event.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the cappellacci dei briganti audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]
I can see why you had to make them, they're too cute.
Posted by: Kalinda | April 14, 2013 at 08:02 AM
How cute! You could use some squid ink and make witch's hats!
Posted by: Alicia (foodycat) | April 14, 2013 at 08:19 AM
These are delightful! I can only imagine how the sauce gathers inside the cone of the "hat" making each bite full of flavor.
Posted by: Duespaghetti | April 14, 2013 at 11:15 AM
What a delightful shape! The Encyclopedia of Pasta is a great book.
Posted by: Frank @Memorie di Angelina | April 14, 2013 at 02:39 PM
What beautiful pasta. Complimenti!
Posted by: Adri | April 14, 2013 at 10:16 PM
How cute these are! have to try them one day :)
Posted by: Ivy | April 14, 2013 at 11:24 PM
another amazing pasta from the queen of hand-made everything. you rock :) barbara
Posted by: Bread & Companatico | April 15, 2013 at 05:42 AM
Oh, those are super-cute. I was wondering what type of sauce you would use, then I see the tomato sauce at the end. Perfecto.
Posted by: Lori Lynn | April 15, 2013 at 09:07 AM
Those hats are really cute and I'm sure tasted really good. It was fun watching you make them and hearing the director's voice. :-)
Posted by: Paz | April 15, 2013 at 09:44 AM
Thank you, Kalinda!
Brilliant idea, Alicia! I will certainly try that. It is not easy to find uncleaned squid, but now that you've put the thought into my head, I won't rest until I do it.
Indeed it does, DueSpaghetti.
It is, Frank, and I hope to get more ideas from it.
Thank you, Barbara. This was really fun.
Thanks, Lori Lynn. I love my simple tomato sauce. I make a batch and use it for more than pasta.
Ciao Paz. The director is very patient, I must say. I hope the videos are helpful.
Posted by: Simona Carini | April 15, 2013 at 10:09 PM
This is supposed to be one of Oretta's favorite of pasta shapes! We learned to make a similar one in Puglia, called capelletti mesicani, and formed from half of a circle instead of the whole circle of pasta dough. Can't wait to try this one out!
Posted by: diary of a tomato | April 29, 2013 at 09:22 AM
After I made it, I remembered that it was in the photos of the article about the book in the NY Times. It's a really lovely pasta shape. I am not familiar with cappelletti messicani and now of course I am curious.
Posted by: Simona Carini | April 29, 2013 at 09:51 PM
These are great, I'll be trying them soon. I'm fascinated by pasta shapes and whenever I see new ones I get quite excited. I recently wrote a blogpost about pasta shapes: http://ambradambra.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/pasta-shapes-my-memories/
Posted by: Ambradambra | May 10, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Simona, lo sai che quando cerco ispirazione per la pasta fatta a mano vengo sempre da te?
e trovo sempre quello che cerco!
stupenda donna tu!
Posted by: sandra | May 19, 2015 at 04:17 AM
E' un onore per me essere di ispirazione, Sandra. Grazie per le parole gentili. Riesci sempre a farmi arrossire :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | May 19, 2015 at 07:38 AM