Italian flatbread, or La Piadina as it is known in Italy, is a simple thin plain bread made from flour and lard. We learnt to make them in Tuscany but they make them all over Italy.
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
35g lard, softened and cut into small pieces
Up to 100ml warm water
1. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the lard and a little warm water. Use your hands to bring the ingredients together into a homogenous soft dough, adding just enough water to bring it together. Knead until the dough is smooth. Cover the bowl with cling film and let the dough rest for half an hour or overnight in the fridge.
2. Cut a piece of dough (you’ll need about a 3 inch piece) and roll into a smooth ball. Roll it out into a circle on a floured board so it is as thin as you can get it without tearing it.
3. Heat a non-stick pan so that you can barely hold your hand over it – you don’t need oil – and when it is hot, fry the piadina on both sides. It will take seconds and it is ready when it billows up out of the pan and acquires brown spots on the underside. Turn and cook the second side for literally seconds. Try not to burn it – the spots should be golden, not black. Turn the heat down when it gets too hot.
4. Serve the piadina warm or reheat them later in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 180C/350F/Gas 4.
– The first piadina or two may not billow up as the pan may not be hot enough so fry them briefly again at the end of cooking and it should work. It is important to have the pan hot enough to allow the piadina to swell up because that is what makes the layers and gives them their lightness. They will deflate immediately, but when you pull them apart, you should see the layers separating.
– When you have no bread in the house, make a batch of piadina – all you need is flour and lard (if you don’t have lard, use olive oil). Serve with soups, as a starter with tuna mayonnaise, smoked salmon or trout or top with Parma or Serrano ham, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil or any bruschetta-style topping.
– We cook all flatbreads (it doesn’t matter whether they are Italian or Indian) on a tawa, a flat non-stick pan that conducts heat well and that doesn’t fume like non-stick pans can over a high heat. If you make chapatis, roti or cook any other flatbread including tortillas, it is worth buying one. You’ll find one in any of the middle-eastern shops or on Amazon.
Photograph © foodpixies.com
VIDEO METHOD: You can see the method for making Piadina in the video below. The only difference is that they use milk instead of water in the video which makes a softer dough and they add bread soda to lighten it.