When one speaks of the Danube, many people's minds run to the river that crosses Europe and touches such splendid cities as Bratislava, Belgrade, Budapest and Vienna. In Naples, however, thoughts turn to something more succulent that immediately makes the mouth water: the savoury danube, a rustic fact of soft balls filled with cold cuts and stringy cheese. This dish was invented in 1920 by the young Giovanni Scaturchio taking inspiration from Buchteln, the famous Austrian dessert. There is much more behind this culinary speciality: the creation of the Soft savoury danube is the result of a touching love story born during the devastating Great War. Every bite of this dish is like a journey back in time, a fusion of flavours that embodies a story of passion, creativity and union between different cultures. The Soft savoury danubio without butterinvented during one of the most tragic periods in history, continues, even today, to delight the palates of Naples and beyond.

Soft savoury danube without butter: how did it come about?

During the Great War Giovanni Scaturchio joined the conflict together with an entire generation of Italians. He was the youngest son of a family of confectioners from Calabria who had settled in Naples. When he arrived at the front he met Katharina, an Austrian woman with whom he fell madly in love. Their love managed to overcome both language barriers and the devastating war. On his return to Naples, he brought with him not only the pain-soaked memories of the conflict, but also his new life partner: Katharina, who had now become his wife. Together they opened a pastry shop, and alongside traditional Neapolitan sweets, flanked various Austrian desserts such as strudel, sacher and buchteln. It was from the latter, made from a series of brioche dough balls filled with vanilla or chocolate cream, that Giovanni was inspired to make a savoury version filled with stringy cheese and Neapolitan salami. Thus was born the very soft savoury danubio without buttercharacterised by the contrasting sweetness of the impasto and the savouriness of the interior. Its success was so extraordinary that it quickly became one of the most popular rustici in Neapolitan cuisine.

Soft savoury danubio without butter: recipe


3 hours

30 minutes




Ingredients for 8 generous servings

For the savoury Danube

  • 500 g 0 flour
  • 250 ml whole milk
  • 60 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 egg
  • 15 g caster sugar
  • 15 g fine salt
  • 10 g pecorino cheese
  • 10 g grana cheese

For the filling

  • 200 g Provolone cheese
  • 200 g Neapolitan salami

For brushing

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of whole milk


  • 1 baking tray 24 cm in diameter
  • 2 medium bowls
  • 1 fork
  • 1 spatula or 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 silicone brush
  • 1 rolling pin
  • cling film q.b.

Soft savoury danube: procedure

Step 1. Crumble the fresh brewer's yeast in a large bowl and dissolve it in the milk.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 2. Add the whole egg, sugar and seed oil and mix using a spatula.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 3. In a second bowl, pour the flour, salt and grated cheese. Mix the ingredients together.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 4. Mix the dry ingredients a little at a time with the liquid ingredients.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 5. Knead the dough with a spatula until it has a firm consistency and then transfer it to a lightly floured work surface.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 6. Once you have a smooth and compact dough ball, put it to rest inside the bowl, cover with cling film and leave it to rise for about 2 hours at room temperature.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 7. Meanwhile, cut the salami and cheese into cubes.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 8. When the dough has risen, pour it onto a lightly floured work surface.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 9. Divide it into 19 pieces weighing about 45 g each.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 10. Flatten each piece of dough with your hands or a rolling pin to form a disc.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 11. Stuff with diced cheese and salami. Fold the flaps back on themselves and form a ball.

Soft savoury danube

Step 12. Brush the mould with seed oil and place the filled balls of savoury Danubio inside.

Soft savoury danube

Step 13. Cover with foil and allow to rise for a further 30 minutes.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 14. When the balls have risen, whisk them in a small bowl an egg with the 2 tablespoons of milk and brush the balls one by one.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

If desired, sprinkle sesame seeds on the balls.

Soft savoury danubio without butter

Step 15. Turn on the oven in static mode at 180 °C and when the oven is at temperature, place in the middle and bake the savoury danube for about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve piping hot.

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  • Different cheeses such as scamorza, caciocavallo and provola can be used to fill the danubio. You can also vary stuffing them with diced prosciutto, cooked ham, speck or mortadella.
  • To make a vegetarian savoury danube, a good filling could be scamorza cheese and diced courgettes sautéed in a pan or scamorza cheese, pitted black olives and tomatoes.

  • It can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days.

Which wine goes with the Salty Danube?

To generalise, when it comes to food and wine pairing, is always very complex, not least because the world of wine is so wide-ranging in itself that it is difficult to find unambiguous answers even within the same denomination, not to mention the variations between one winery and another and between one vintage and another. Nevertheless, one can identify some main threads to follow.

In the case of the savoury Danube, one should take into account the fattiness of its filling and its aromaticity, given by both the bread crust aromas and the salami and pecorino cheese. For this, we recommend a classic method sparkling wine with intense and herbaceous aromas, but also classic pastry aromas, plenty of structure and a great acidic backbone such as an Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante DOCG.

[Taken from the book "Sommelier: the illustrated manual" p. 495]

Chiara Bassi

Writer, sommelier & gastronome

Soft savoury danube: a contemporary recipe

The Salty Danube, born from a combination of Austrian culinary traditions and local talent, has become an icon of Neapolitan gastronomy. Its creation is a testament to how creativity and cultural exchange can mix, creating something extraordinary. Over the years, this dish has spread far beyond the borders of Naples, winning the hearts and palates of many Italians.

Soft savoury danubio without butter