Piadina is flat, round, unleavened soft bread made in Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
It is made from white wheat flour, salt, and lukewarm water.
There are a few variations on ingredients and actually no authoritative version. The recipe varies from town to town, and from family to family:
- some recipes use milk instead of water;
- many recipes use lard;
- some recipes use olive oil instead of lard;
- some recipes add baking soda or yeast;
Some style variations occur throughout Emilia-Romagna as well:
- In Rimini, the Piadina is thin and less fat is used;
- In Ravenna, the Piadina is smaller, thicker and softer;
- In southern Emilia-Romagna, the Piadina are thin, and larger.
Some aficionados claim the best are made with just flour, salt and milk.
The ingredients are kneaded together for 10 minutes by hand, then the dough is divided into pieces, and rolled out into rounds about 8 inches (20 cm) wide.
The rounds of dough are baked on an ungreased, heated griddle. The griddle used is a flat, round clay tile called a “testo.” The bread is flipped to cook both sides and comes off the griddle speckled brown, like a pancake.
Piadina is best warm. It can be served as is, or folded in half with a filling inside – Squacquerone would be a typical cheese filling. Prosciutto and fresh herbs is also popular as a traditional filling. Often now though, people just use Nutella.
Piadina are not really made at home anymore. Everyone just buys them at stores. Commercially-made ones are cooked on iron griddles, and even some purists admit that not cooking them on clay doesn’t affect the taste that much. You need to reheat store-bought ones in an ungreased frying pan.
Wheat flour tortilla
Attempts have been made to date the history of Piadina back to the Etruscans, and even Aeneas.
Literature & Lore
An annual Piadina festival, first held in 1991, occurs in the town of Milano Marittima, on the coast, south of Ravenna. The public chooses the eight best Piadiana, and out of those, a panel of judges chooses the winner. They test the Piadina cold, when good taste and texture is really a challenge.
It is considered bad luck to make Piadina when a south-westerly wind is blowing, because the warmth and damp it brings will make the dough too soft.
The Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912) wrote nostalgically about the bread, even dedicating an entire poem to it. This is an excerpt:
|…”Il mio povero mucchio arde e già brilla:
pian piano appoggio sopra due mattoni
il nero testo di porosa argilla.
Maria, nel fiore infondi l’acqua e poni
Tu n’empi i mari, e l’uomo lo dispensa
Ma tu, Maria, con le tue mani blande
come la luna; e sulle aperte mani
Io, la giro, e le attizzo con le molle
e l’odore del pane empie la casa.”
— Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912). “La piada”
|…”My poor heap (of twigs, etc.) burns and already is bright: slowly, slowly I place the black griddle of porous clay on two stones.
Maria, you mix the water in the flour and put in the salt; gift from you, God, but think! Man sells me what you gave us.
You fill the seas (with bounty), and man dispenses it in trembling balances; you make the land a feast, and yet the tables are empty.
But you, Maria, with your calm hands you master the dough, and then stretch and smooth it; and here it is, smooth as a leaf and as large
as the moon; and on extended hands you bring it to me, and place it carefully on the hot griddle, and then, step away.
I turn it, and with the poker tend the fire underneath, so that it squeaks from the heat, and inflates with bubbles:
and the odour of bread fills the house”.
The plural is “piadine.”