It never ceases to amaze me how different the breads of Italy can be from region to region. Emilia-Romagna’s bread is no exception. Unlike the saltless bread found in Tuscany or the crunchy paper thin wafer known as pane carasau in Sardinia, the tasty unleavened flat bread, piadina, is made throughout Romagna. Although a bit time consuming, they are simple and relaxing to make and can be eaten plain or stuffed with a few simple slices of prosciutto or flavorful veggies such as broccoli rabe sautéed in a bit of garlic and oil. I recently added ‘Biba’s Taste of Italy’ cookbook to my shelves and simply love her style of writing, her wonderful memories of Emilia-Romagna and her mouthwatering recipes. I knew I wanted to make piadina as soon as we started featuring Emilia-Romagna on our blog this month but it was Biba’s description of eating these little beauties along the sea that convinced me to make them sooner rather than later. So this morning, when the beautiful day woke me much earlier than expected, I decided to make a batch for breakfast and to stuff for a bike ride planned for later in the day. My mouth was watering as these little beauties puffed and turned crispy and brown in the skillet. (The photo was supposed to have one more piadina – I couldn’t help myself. Yummmm.) Biba talks about how this soul food of Romagna has been made since the Middle Ages and were originally baked on large hot slabs of terra-cotta. Her description makes me want to run off to the seaside in Romagna just so I can taste one of these beauties fresh from the trattoria near the sea. Off to ready the bikes….buona giornata! Enjoy!
From: Biba’s Taste of Italy
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 pound lard, melted, or 1/3 cup olive oil (I used olive oil)
3/4 cup milk, heated until lukewarm
1 teaspoon honey
Olive oil for the griddle
To make the dough by hand, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl, then mound the mixture on a large wooden board or other work surface. With your fingers, make a round well in the center of the flour. Place the olive oil, milk, and honey in the well. Stir the ingredients briefly with a fork, then draw in the flour, starting with the inside walls of the well, into the mixture. When all the flour has been incorporated, knead the dough until it is smooth and pliable, 6 to 7 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.
To make the dough with a food processor, combine the dry ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the oil, milk, and honey, and pulse until the dough gathers loosely around the blade. Transfer the dough to a wooden board or other work surface and knead it for a minute or two, until smooth and pliable. Shape the dough into a ball.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and cut into 8 pieces. Work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap.
Sprinkle a work surface lightly with flour. Flatten a piece of dough with the palm of your hand and then roll it out in to a thin 7-inch circle. Place on the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Heat a cast-iron griddle pan or large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. To test the heat, sprinkle the griddle with a few drops of water – if the drops skip and disappear almost instantly, the temperature is just right.
Lightly brush the pan with oil and place 1 circle of dough on it. Cook for 10 to 15 seconds, until the bottom has a sprinkling of golden brown bubbles. Turn and cook the other side for 10 to 15 seconds. Continue to cook, turning every 10 to 15 seconds, until the dough has a parched white surface and is speckled all over with golden brown spots, 2 to 3 minutes. (If the spots are black, not brown, the heat is too high.) As the piadina cooks, prick any bubbles that form with a fork. Place the piadina on a large ovenproof plate, cover with foil, and keep warm in a 200 degreeF oven. Roll out and cook the remaining piadine in the same manner.
Serve the hot piadine whole or cut into wedges, with any of the accompaniments.