Bread Malfatti with Butter and Pumpkin Cream

Last year, my mother gave me one of my grandmother’s cookbooks.  It is full of notes and extra recipes that my nonna would pin down in all the white areas in between pages.  I love it.  I love being able to read her comments, I love being able to once again see her curvy handwriting, so different to the more “modern” handwriting I am used to seeing nowadays (if any at all… don’t we all type on our computers more than we hold a real pen these days??).  This book is pretty old and well used… some of the pages are missing and you can tell, my nonna used it quite a lot.  It also has some pictures of the dishes… There are plenty of classic recipes in it, we are talking about the 1960’s.  I have read it fully, but I never get tired of skimming through it.  One recipe caught my attention in particular.  It’s called Malfatti Mantovani.  Milan is not very far from Mantova, but I had never heard of such a dish.  Malfatti are usually a kind of gnocchi, with a more “loose”, irregular shape (malfatti, literally means “done/made badly”), but this specific recipe was about malfatti made out of… breadcrumbs.  I had never had anything like it before, so I thought I should give it a go.  Well, the taste was good, but the first batch that I made following the book’s recipe did not come out all that well (the malfatti were not resistant enough and would come apart while cooking).  I did not give up though as the recipe had potential.  I tried and I tried until I got it right and now I can share it with you!  I decided to serve them with a simple butter sauce and some pumpkin cream in honour of Mantova, where pumpkin is used in all the iconic dishes.  This is my Regional Italian dish for the week for Lombardia.  Check out all my other Regional Italian dishes here.  Don’t forget to sprinkle a generous dose of Parmigiano Reggiano on the top!  Enjoy!

Bread Malfatti with Butter and Pumpkin Cream

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Bread Malfatti
  • 200 gms – 7 oz. breadcrumbs
  • 200 gms – 7 oz. flour
  • 50 ml – 1.75 oz. milk, to be added little by little (you may need a little bit more or less)
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 gms – 2.8 oz. butter, softened
  • 80 gms – 2.8 oz. lardo or pancetta
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 40 gms – 1.4 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, thinly grated
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Pumpkin cream
  • 400 gms – 14 oz. pumpkin, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • Water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Butter Sauce
  • 80 gms – 2.8 oz. butter
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Parmigiano Reggiano thinly grated, to serve
Pumpkin cream
  1. Sauté the chopped onion in the extra virgin olive oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the chopped pumpkin and mix it well. Add a little water, cover it and let it cook until soft.
  3. When the pumpkin is ready, blend it.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep it aside.
Bread Malfatti
  1. Make a paste of the garlic and lardo/pancetta using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Add the butter and keep working until you get a smooth cream.
  3. In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, flour, beaten eggs, salt, pepper, cinnamon, Parmigiano Reggiano and the garlic & lardo paste.
  4. Add the milk little by little and knead until you get a pliable dough. Make a ball out of it, wrap it in cling wrap and keep it aside to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. To make the malfatti, make small elongated balls (3x1.5cm - 1.2x0.6 inches) using your hands.
  6. Cook them in boiling salted water for about 10 to 12 minutes after they start floating.
Butter Sauce
  1. In the meantime, prepare the butter sauce by simply melting the butter in a pan over low heat. Add salt and keep it aside.
  1. When the malfatti are cooked, drain them with a slotted spoon and sauté them with the melted butter. Do this gently as they are quite delicate!
  2. Serve them with the Pumpkin cream and some Parmigiano Reggiano thinly grated on top.

Bread Malfatti with Butter and Pumpkin Cream

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  1. says

    Hi Manuela! I think that a Book of Comfort food is a great heritage to leave to our Children and Nephews! Even now I transcribe, or I do annotations by hand on the recipes that I tried to do (or better, I scrap my recipes!), because I think it’s like to add them a “personal touch”!!!! This recipe seems to be very good: I will try it (plus, I have just a pumpkin languishing in the fridge, eheheh!)! That’s all…I miei saluti te li mando in italiano però: Ciao e Grazie mille dalla Provincia di Milano!!! DanielaC.

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