Born out of flour, iron, and fire, piadina bread descends from the north-eastern region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy and now holds PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status as one of the most notable products of the area. It is the Etruscans who are credited with the first records of making this unleavened dough; their early attempts were in fact enough to influence the Ancient Romans to follow suit, and, eventually, to establish the piadina as an indelible part of Italy’s gastronomic heritage.
According to tradition, the dough is rolled out until thin and cooked on a terracotta tray, eaten only once it is lightly charred from the embers of the fire. While the piadina abounds in Italy, it doesn’t follow a standardised recipe; rather, it has changed over the centuries along with each region’s culinary practices. In fact, the piadina varies by household, but most iterations fall into one of two categories: large and thin from Rimini, a bustling seaside town on the Adriatic coast, or smaller and more dense from the inland town of Forlì. Perhaps the best loved variety, the Piadina Romagnola, is relatively modern, having been invented as recently as the 20th century. Today, as ever, the piadina is imbued with the hints of Emilia-Romagna: its uneven, almost hill-like surface and slightly salted flavour recalls summers spent breathing in the air of Italy’s northern sea breeze.
Our piadina flatbread recipe
Prep time: 10 mins
Rest time: 1 hour
Cook time: 5 mins
Calories per serving: 413kcal
500g plain flour
80ml olive oil or 120g lard
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Starting with the lard (if using), use your fingers to rub it gently into the flour in a large bowl, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Follow by adding the salt, bicarbonate of soda, water and, olive oil if you are using it instead of lard. Using your hands, knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until everything comes together to form a smooth dough. Lightly flour and then wrap in a tea towel, leaving the dough to rest for around an hour.
- Cut the dough into six pieces and then, one by one, roll them into thin plate-sized discs (around the thickness of a 2p coin). Use a fork or the end of a sharp knife to prick the discs’ surface.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan until hot. Place the first disc in the pan and dry fry for about 2 minutes on each side so that it is evenly cooked throughout. They should develop some dark, slightly charred spots on the surface. Best eaten warm, we enjoy our piadina as part of a traditional Italian antipasti selection or alongside a warming bowl of fresh pasta.