Once again, I am captivated by the simplicity and beauty of Italian peasant cooking!
Piadina is a simple and delicious flatbread best enjoyed when baked on the spot. Fill it with your favorite meats, cheeses, and/or vegetables, and serve immediately while still warm. Piadina is soft and chewy with a rich nutty taste and smokiness! That’s a lot of deliciousness packed into a piece of bread weighing just a couple of ounces and less than ⅛ of an inch thick. This bread has Roman origins and is considered “street food.”
A typical piadina sandwich would be made with something like arugula, prosciutto, and an Italian cheese spread. But, I like putting hardier stuff on it such as the sausage, potatoes, and escarole oreganata pictured above. Oh yes, and some charred long hots just for that extra zing. I love long hots!
A true piadina is also made with lard. I have nothing whatsoever against lard. However, I like substituting the lard fat with extra virgin olive oil. I just love the taste and texture of this bread when made with extra virgin olive oil as opposed to the lard or “lo strutto.”
Oh…and the baking soda. I’ll take an educated guess they were not using baking soda back in the days of the Roman empire but, I like using a small amount to help make this bread feel a little more light and airy.
Like focaccia bread, (my previous post) this is a simple bread that can be prepared all in the same day. There is no “pre-ferment” needed to be made 24 hours in advance like some of the more complex breads. If you don’t have any bread in the house but have some nice stuff in the fridge for a sandwich, you can whip this bread together in no time and enjoy something different and most likely even better than picking up store-bought bread.
So let’s get started . . .
I prefer a stand mixer with a dough hook to knead the ingredients together. I feel a mixer is really the way to go. Mixing it by hand is fine (and traditional). I would say you would have to do some pretty good kneading for a good 10 – 15 minutes by hand.
In the stand mixer bowl add all of the ingredients on the list below. Flour, salt, water, olive oil, and baking soda.
With the dough hook, mix at a very slow speed at first so the ingredients don’t go flying all over your kitchen. As the dough begins to form large crumbs increase the speed of the dough hook and continue to watch the mix.
As the dough begins to form larger pieces and comes together, you may have to tweak it a bit by adding a little flour or water. If the dough hook keeps spinning and the ingredients are not combining any further, add a little water one tablespoon at a time. You will see just a little bit of water will cause the dough to come together on the hook and pick up virtually everything off the surface of the inside of the mixing bowl. If there is a little water pooling at the bottom of the bowl that you cant get rid of by mixing, add a little flour until the mixture transforms into the dough on the hook the same way. Your total mixing time is about 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth, elastic, a bit sticky, and wrapped around the dough hook when done.
Take the dough off the hook, shape it into a nice ball by some kneading with your hands, and wrap tightly with saran wrap.
Let the dough rest at room temp for at least 30 minutes. (do not skip resting!!)
After 30 minutes, unwrap the dough, place it on a wooden surface, and roll into an even cylinder shape about 1 foot long or so with a diameter of about 2 ½ inches.
Divide the dough into two equal halves. Then take your two halves and divide them equally again. And then once more and you will have 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a nice ball, cover with saran wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes. (do not skip resting!!)
Lightly flour a wooden surface. Place the dough ball on the floured surface and flatten it the best you can with your hands. Keep the dough in a circular shape.
Now, lightly flour the top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, starting from the middle, begin to roll out the dough into a circular disc. Move the rolling pin from the middle to the edges applying equal pressure. Flip the disc and continue until you have a thin disc of dough about 8 to 10 inches in diameter.
Place the disc on an already hot cast iron surface for about 2 minutes. Once the surface of the dough starts to inflate with little air pockets or bubbles flip it onto its other side using a large metal spatula. The side that was down and is now facing up should be partially charred and have a soft crust type of texture. Only about a minute or so after flipping, the bread will be done. Remove from cast iron, place on a large plate, and repeat for the remaining seven pieces stacking each on top of each other. Bread is ready to be served!
Now, if you want to keep it real and you are serving piadina sandwiches on the spot, you can add the sandwich items while the dough is still cooking on the cast iron right after the first flip. Let it cook for a minute or so then using a long metal spatula fold the dough over itself (fold in half) covering the sandwich ingredients and serve nice and hot! Bellissimo!!
Thank you for visiting! I hope you enjoyed this post!
4 cups flour (all-purpose is fine. I like 00 Caputo)
½ tablespoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup warm water