Not only bread

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Among the typical products of Emilia-Romagna there are not only cheeses, meats, wines or balsamic vinegar. There are also the most disparate bakery products with a long tradition behind them.

In what was once the great granary of Northern Italy, we thus find a gastronomic richness that boasts preparations and creativity that differentiate according to the places where you are.

As in the rest of Italy, bread is also an essential food in Emilia-Romagna - whatever form it may have. It is used to accompany appetizers of cold cuts and cheeses, but also to try out coarse and tasty shoes on ragù left on the bottom of the plates.

There are many types of bread or similar that we find in the specific areas of Emilia-Romagna, from the province of Forlì-Cesena to that of Piacenza, passing through Ferrara, Ravenna, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna. Let's see which ones together.

La Burtleina (bortellina)

Made with few ingredients, bortellina (burtlena or burtleina) is a kind of water and flour-based omelette historically used among the less well-off classes to accompany the meals of the day.

There are several variations, all delicious. Each town of Piacenza, for example, has its own and the preparation according to a traditional recipe. For example, there is that of Bettola, or that of Gragnano Trebbiense. Among all, however, that of Casaliggio stands out, which since 1973 has been home to "La Festa d’la Burtleina", the festival dedicated to the Bortellina Piacentina.

It is best enjoyed alone, preferably hot, with Piacenza PDO cold cuts (Coppa, Bacon and Salame) and soft cheeses.

Batarö (or mashed bread)

Typical of Val Tidone (Piacenza), Batarö are small scones made by mixing wheat and corn flours, sometimes raisins, used to accompany typical cured meats. Traditionally these are restaurants in the shops and in the town of Nibbiano.

Chisola and chisolini

Typical of the Val Tidone, and in particular of Borgonovo, the chisola is a dough made from cracklings that was once heavily consumed by the farmers of the area who moved between the Val Padana and the Apennines.

There are several variants of the chisola. In Parma, for example, it is a simple flatbread prepared with flour, yeast and lard, sometimes topped with onions or cheese.

Then there are the chisolini, small unleavened focaccia, fried in lard, typical of the culinary tradition of the village of Fiorenzuola d'Arda. The latter can take different forms (breadstick, bite-sized) and are consumed with typical Piacenza cold cuts and cheese.

Stamped bread

The bread with the stamp is typical of Piacenza, in particular of the town of Ponte dell'Olio, but it is also well known outside the province.

Its history dates back to the fifteenth century when the stamp - or a ball of dough placed in the center of the bread, as if it were a seal - used to distinguish the loaves destined for pilgrims who passed through the Emilian stretch of the Via Francigena.

Busseto bread (or misery)

Produced in Busseto, this bread also known as miseria (or bread of Mercy), is typical of the city of Parma and the province, known throughout the Po Valley area with the name of "micca".

It is a poor bread of soft wheat flour with an oblong shape of about 30 cm, flavored with lard and salt and engraved in the center, in order to give it the classic butterfly shape.

Puff pastry or Jewish cake (Tibùia)

Born in the first half of the seventeenth century within the Jewish community of Finale Emilia, the puff pastry also known as the Jewish Cake (in Tibùia dialect) is a sort of "fat cake" made up of various overlapping layers made with a flour-based dough , water, salt, enriched with pork lard, Parmigiano-Reggiano and butter.

The current recipe is a derivation of the original Jewish one and was made in 1860 by a certain Giuseppe Maria Alfonso Alinori, a Jewish convert to Catholicism.
Tibùia is commonly eaten hot in the winter months, starting from November 2nd, accompanied - if possible - by a glass of anicione.

Pavullo's (or Verica's) bread

On the Modena hills, in Pavullo nel Frignano, there is a type of bread - in the shape of a round or elongated loaf - which enjoys a well-deserved reputation due to its consistency and its high digestibility. The best known and oldest tradition is that of Verica, a hamlet of Pavullo.

The main features of this product I use from the ingredients used: the use of soft wheat flour grown exclusively in the Modena hills, the lack of sale a small amount of lard and the use of a natural yeast (or sourdough) 6 hours in estate, 12 in winter.

Zampanelli or borlenghi

Typical of the province of Modena, and in particular of the municipality of Montese, zampanelli or borlenghi are large thin crepes (about 40 cm in diameter) made starting from a dough based on water or milk, flour, salt, eggs and, in some recipes , even wine.

They are usually served hot and folded into four parts with the typical "mountain pesto" inside, also called cunza (a mixture of lard and / or bacon with garlic and rosemary and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano). Or with a dressing of bacon and / or sausage and an inevitable sprinkling of Parmesan.
This would be borléngo, typical of the Modenese belt between Guiglia, Vignola, Zocca and Frignano (Pavullo, Fanano and Sestola) and the part of the province of Bologna closest to Modena.

Gnocco Fritto (or crescentina or fried cake or pinzino)

Son of the rich Emilia-Romagna gastronomic tradition, the fried gnocco is a must among the products of the regional bakery, perfect for a rustic and greedy appetizer, perhaps accompanied by a glass of wine.

Depending on the area in which it is located, it takes on different names. At the base, however, the recipe, even if with slight differences, is always the same.
If in Reggio Emilia and Modena we talk about gnocco fritto (fried dumpling), its name becomes in Parma fried cake, pinzino in Ferrara and crescentina in Bologna.

From a gastronomic point of view it is a preparation similar to bread dough (water, yeast and flour), rolled out with a rolling pin, cut into lozenges and fried, very often in lard.

During frying, the lozenges swell and are ready to be served with cold cuts or soft cheeses such as squacquerone, crescenza or a creamy sweet gorgonzola. However, they do not disdain the company of pickles and pickles.

Crescentine (crescenti or tigelle)

Crescentine, also known as tigelle (from the name of the stones used in the past to cook them in the fireplace), are typical scones of the Modenese Apennines. Prepared with a mixture of flour, water and salt, once they were prepared every day and then brought to the farmers who ate them as bread.

Today, as then, they are served with cured meats, cheeses but also lard pesto and, if necessary, a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bread of San Petronio

On the occasion of San Petronio, patron saint of Bologna, it is traditional to prepare a bread stuffed with raw ham and parmesan with a soft and tasty dough.

There are many classic and traditional recipes, even if the official one is decreed by the Italian Academy of Cuisine in Bologna and filed with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce.

Coppia ferrarese

A central body and two light and fragrant rolled croutons that both end in a point. It is the couple from Ferrara, in dialect "ciupeta", a very particular bread especially given the shape that resembles a cross or an X.

Strolling through the streets of Ferrara in the morning, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the pleasant scent of this freshly baked panel.

Tirotta with onion (Tiratta ala zivola)

Born from the combination of Ferrara bread and onion, tirotta is a sort of focaccia made from bread dough, made with "0" soft wheat flour, water, extra virgin olive oil, pure pork lard, salt, malt, brewer's yeast, fresh Tropea onion.

Piada/piadina and cassone/crescione

Fragrant and genuine, the piada (or piadina) needs no introduction. Anyone who knows it and has tasted it at least once in their life. Thin in the Rimini area, its thickness increases as you go up and in Forlì and Ravenna you eat it by cutting it in half.

It can be eaten together with bread, to accompany any dish. Usually folded in half (the closed version is called cassone in the Rimini area or watercress in the Forlì and Ravenna area) and stuffed with cold cuts, cheeses and vegetables but also sweet creams and jams accompanied if necessary by a good red wine, Sangiovese salito.

Fried pizza (or fried flatbread)

It is a Romagna recipe, especially from the Santerno valley. It looks like a kind of fried bread with a circular shape, quite thin and golden.

It can be served empty, or stuffed if necessary as you wish. It is usually used to accompany dishes, very often as an appetizer in combination with cold cuts (cracklings, salami, coppa) and cheeses, or as a base for desserts (spread with cocoa cream).

Last update 21/11/2021

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