Savory Morning Buns with Sausage, Fontina, and Broccoli Rabe

Featured in our Fall 2021 issue’s Some of This Season’s Most Delicious Reads by Now Serving’s Ken Concepcion

Call your friends now and invite them over for next Sunday morning, because you’ve just met the perfect brunch dish. The coiled presentation looks lovely on a spread, and the hearty filling means this plays the role of both main dish and pastry. The dough (essentially the same as for the Cast-Iron Skillet Spelt Cinnamon Rolls on page 221) requires advance planning—an overnight rest and a couple of hours of rising before baking—so be sure to read through everything to plan accordingly. While it’s dreamy fresh from the oven, you can bake the morning bun a day ahead, refrigerate it, and then reheat in a 375°F (190°C) oven for 15 to 30 minutes, covered in foil at first, then uncovered to crisp up the edges.

Savory Morning Buns with Sausage, Fontina, and Broccoli Rabe

Serves 6 to 8


  • ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk

  • 1 cup (120 g) spelt flour
  • 1½ teaspoons (5 g) active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) barely warm water
  • 1 cup (120 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces (225 g) broccoli rabe, tough ends trimmed off
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 8 ounces (225 g) breakfast sausage, bulk or casings removed, shaped into 3 or 4 patties
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups (240 g) grated Fontina cheese
  • ½ teaspoon dried chile flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup (40 g) sesame seeds


  1. Step 1

    Make the dough: Whisk together the milk and 2 tablespoons of the spelt flour in a small saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it boils. Whisking constantly, boil the flour paste until it’s thick and starts to pull away from the bottom of the pan, about 30 seconds. Transfer the paste to a bowl, cover directly with plastic wrap, and let cool to room temperature.

    Step 2

    When the flour paste has cooled, put the yeast and water in a small bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes to rehydrate the yeast. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the paste, yeast mixture, remaining spelt flour, the all-purpose flour, salt, egg, and butter.

    Step 3

    Knead on low speed for a few minutes until all of the ingredients are combined (you may need to scrape down the bowl once or twice). Switch to medium speed and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and springy, about 8 minutes. Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a ball. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic or a damp towel. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1½ hours, and then pop into the refrigerator for an overnight rest.

    Step 4

    A couple of hours before you want to serve the morning rolls, take the dough from the refrigerator and make the filling.

    Step 5

    Make the filling: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add enough salt that it tastes like the ocean. Add the broccoli rabe and boil until the stems are quite tender when you cut (or bite) them, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, let cool, then chop roughly, making sure there are no long pieces of stem, which can be fibrous even when fully cooked. Set aside.

    Step 6

    Heat a nice glug of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and cook slowly over medium heat until the garlic is very soft, fragrant, and nicely golden brown—but not burnt—about 5 minutes.

    Step 7

    Add the sausage patties and cook, flipping occasionally, until browned on the surface and just cooked on the inside. Break into bite-size chunks with a spoon and cook until no longer pink. (You can leave the garlic in the pan as you cook the sausage, if it’s not getting too dark. If it is, scoop it out and add back when you add the broccoli rabe. In either case, smash it further into small bits.)

    Step 8

    Pour off any excess grease from the skillet and add the chopped broccoli rabe. Cook, stirring, for a minute to integrate the broccoli rabe and flavor it with the sausage grease. Stir in the maple syrup.

    Step 9

    Transfer the mixture to a bowl, let cool completely, then add the Fontina and chile flakes and season with lots of black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Refrigerate while you roll out the dough.

    Step 10

    BAKE THE ROLL: Coat a 9-inch (23 cm) cast-iron skillet or cake pan with 1 tablespoon butter.

    Step 11

    Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough into an 18 × 12-inch (46 × 30 cm) rectangle. Distribute the filling in an even layer over the whole surface of the dough.

    Step 12

    Beginning with a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder (it will be soft, just work gently and do your best) and coil the cylinder into a loose spiral. Gently lift the spiral and place into the buttered pan; you may need to pat things back into place, but that’s fine. Cover loosely with a cloth and let rise in a warm place until the dough is puffy and the coil is swollen, 1½ to 2 hours.

    Step 13

    About 20 minutes before the dough is fully risen (just guesstimate!), heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

    Step 14

    Brush the morning roll with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake until medium brown and dry-looking on the top, with no “raw dough” look in the folds, 20 to 25 minutes.

    Step 15

    Let cool for a few minutes so the filling can set, then cut into slices and serve.

Excerpted from Grains for Every Season by Joshua McFadden (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let's stay in touch

Subscribe to the Edible LA e-newsletter for updates on local food issues, events, seasonal recipes, and special issue sneak peeks.

We respect your privacy