More than just bread

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Among the typical products of Emilia-Romagna, besides cheeses, meats, wines or balsamic vinegar, there are also many different bakery products with a long tradition behind them.

Bread is an essential food in Emilia-Romagna: it is used to accompany appetizers of cold cuts and cheeses, but also to eat ragù or other sauces left on the bottom of your plate once you have finished your pasta.

There are many types of bread and baked goods that can be found in the different areas of Emilia-Romagna, from the province of Forlì-Cesena to that of Piacenza, passing through Ferrara, Ravenna, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna. Here are some of them.

La Burtleina (bortellina)

Made with few ingredients, bortellina (burtlena or burtleina) is a kind of omelette made with water and flour, historically used among the less well-off classes as a replacement of bread during meals.

There are several variations: each town in the province of Piacenza, for example, has its own traditional recipe, such as that of Bettola, or that of Gragnano Trebbiense. That of Casaliggio is the most famous, and the town has been hosting "La Festa d’la Burtleina" since 1973, the festival dedicated to the bortellina.

It is best enjoyed by itself, preferably hot, or with Piacenza DOP cold cuts (Coppa, Pancetta and Salame) and soft cheeses.

Batarö (or mashed bread)

Typical of Val Tidone (Piacenza), Batarö is a small flatbread made by mixing wheat and corn flour, sometimes with the addition of raisins, and eaten with local cured meats. It is traditionally prepared in the restaurants and shops of the town of Nibbiano.

Chisola and chisolini

Typical of Val Tidone, and in particular of Borgonovo, chisola is a focaccia made with cracklings that was once heavily consumed by the farmers of the area, who travelled 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.

There are also chisolini, a kind of small flatbread fried in lard, typical of the culinary tradition of the village of Fiorenzuola d'Arda. It can take many different shapes (breadstick, bite-sized) and it is consumed with typical Piacenza cold cuts and cheese.

Pane col bollo

Pane col bollo (literally, bread with a stamp) is typical of Piacenza, in particular of the town of Ponte dell'Olio, but it is well known outside the province as well.

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

Busseto bread (or miseria)

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

It is a bread of peasant tradition, made with soft wheat flour. It is a small kind of bread, flavored with lard and salt and scored in the center, in order to give it its classic butterfly shape.

Sfogliata o torta degli ebrei (Tibùia)

Born in the first half of the seventeenth century within the Jewish community of Finale Emilia, sfogliata, also known as torta degli ebrei (Tibùia in dialect) is a sort of "fat cake" which consists of various layers of dough made with flour, water and salt and 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 that has made a name for itself due to its texture and its high digestibility. The best known and oldest tradition is that of Verica, a town in the municipality of Pavullo.

The main features of this product depend on the ingredients used: soft wheat flour grown exclusively in the Modena hills, no salt, a small amount of lard and natural yeast (or sourdough) which is fed every 6 hours in the summer, and every 12 hours during 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). The batter is made with 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 "pesto montanaro" inside, also called cunza (a mixture of lard and/or pancetta with garlic and rosemary and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano). 

There is also a variation of the classic recipe called borléngo, typical of the Modenese area, between Guiglia, Vignola, Zocca and Frignano (Pavullo, Fanano and Sestola). It is usually consumed with a mixture of pancetta and/or sausage and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. 

Gnocco Fritto (or crescentina or torta fritta or pinzino)

Gnocco fritto is one of the most well known and loved products of the Emilia Romagna bread-making landscape, perfect as an appetizer, perhaps accompanied by a glass of wine.

Depending on the area, it takes on different names. However at its core, the recipe, even if with slight variations, stays the same.
In Reggio Emilia and Modena it is called gnocco fritto, in Parma its name is torta fritta, in Ferrara they call it pinzino and  in Bologna it is known as crescentina.

It is a preparation similar to that of bread dough (water, yeast and flour), then flattened with a rolling pin, cut into diamond shapes and fried, often in lard.

While frying, gnocchi fritti swell and once crispy on the outside they are ready to be served with cold cuts or soft cheeses such as squacquerone, crescenza or a creamy sweet gorgonzola.

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), is a kind of flatbraed typical of the Modenese Apennines. Prepared with a mixture of flour, water and salt, they used to be made every day and then brought to the farmers who used them as bread.

Today they are served with cured meats, cheeses but also pesto di lardo and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bread of San Petronio

On the day of San Petronio, patron saint of Bologna, it is traditional to prepare a soft, flavorful bread, stuffed with prosciutto crudo and parmesan cheese.

There are many classic and traditional recipes, but the official one has been established by the Italian Academy of Cuisine in Bologna and patented at the Bologna Chamber of Commerce.

Coppia ferrarese

Coppia di Ferrara, in dialect "ciupeta", is a very particular bread, especially due to its uniqe shape that resembles a cross.

Strolling through the streets of Ferrara in the morning, your appetite will be woken up by the pleasant scent of this freshly baked bread.

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. The ingredients of the dough are type "0" soft wheat flour, water, extra virgin olive oil, pure pork lard, salt, malt, yeast and fresh Tropea onion.

Piada/piadina and cassone/crescione

Piada (or piadina) needs no introduction. Everyone knows it and has tried it at least once in their life. Thin in the Rimini area, its thickness increases as you go north, and in Forlì and Ravenna you eat it by cutting it in half.

It can be eaten instead of bread and it is usually folded in half (the closed version is called cassone in the Rimini area or crescione in the Forlì and Ravenna area) and stuffed with cold cuts, cheeses and vegetables but also sweet spreads and jams.

Fried pizza (or fried flatbread)

It is a Romagna recipe, precisely 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 as one wishes. 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 chocolate cream).

Last update 12/01/2022

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