Tigelle is a recipe that I particularly love: practically, I grew up eating these little flatbreads, typical of my homebirth region! Tigelle are traditionally filled with cheese, cured meats, and even sweet spread, a feast for the senses, and a must of the Emilian street food!
- 3.5 cups (450 g) bread flour
- 4 tbsp (50 g) lard
- 1 bag (7 g) active yeast
- ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (120 ml) white wine
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp table salt
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EMILIA-ROMAGNA STREET FOOD
As in several parts of Italy, in the region of Emilia-Romagna, street food is incredibly popular, and the local cuisine gives us plenty of recipes to sample walking around.
In Romagna, the south-east part of the region, the Piadina Romagnola is the most famous street food: a disc of dough similar, in shape but not in taste, to a big tortilla, filled with various cheeses, cured meats, and vegetables.
In Emilia, the North-West part of the region, the most popular street food recipes are basically two: Gnocco Fritto and Tigelle.
Gnocco Fritto (click here for the recipe) is a little flatbread, deep-fried, very ancient, and delicious. It is typical of the lowland areas around Modena and Bologna.
Tigelle, also called Crescentine, is the ancient bread originally from the mountains around Modena. They are little discs of dough cooked on the stove with a special cast iron skillet called Tigelliera.
Both of them, Tigelle and Gnocco Fritto are served with a variety of local cheeses, cured meats, and pickled vegetables.
ORIGIN OF TIGELLE
As I said, Tigelle (sing. Tigella) are very ancient. For centuries this simple recipe has been the only bread for the people living on the Modenese mountains.
Considered for a long time a food for poor people and ignored by the upper-middle class.
Nowadays, the Tigelle are very popular, particularly in the Modena and Bologna areas, with restaurants and carts specialized in their preparation.
The first written evidence about the Tigelle is dated in the 13th Century at the hands of Emperor Frederick II, the Stupor Mundi.
Sure enough, the recipe of Tigelle was included in four cookbooks discovered in 2005 by Anna Martellotti, probably written and surely edited by the Emperor.
This because the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire spent a few times in the region after his defeat against the city of Parma on 1248, and he had the opportunity to taste and appreciate the local food.
It is said that Fredrick was particularly a glutton for Lasagne Bolognesi and Tigelle, and he took notes to let his cooks replicate the recipes.
TIGELLE OR CRESCENTINE?
This is a curious and funny thing that often happens in the Italian cuisine. The same food has different names depending on the city, even if a few miles far.
Indeed, even if the most popular name of our recipe is Tigelle, in Modena, they are called Crescentine.
But, if you order Crescentine in Bologna, you'll obtain a delicious dish of Gnocco Fritto!
CLAY TILES, TIGELLIERA AND ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO COOK TIGELLE
In origin, the Tigelle were cooked between two round clay tiles lined with chestnut leaves, and placed by the fireplace. The tiles were often decorated with a stylized solar disc, a symbol of life and fruitfulness.
In the second part of the 20th Century, to simplify the Tigelle cooking, a special skillet has been invented to prepare the Tigelle easy on the heat, called Tigelliera.
Tigelliera is very hard to find outside Italy, so I started to shape my Tigelle with a Tortilla press, and cook them in a Cast Iron Skillet, and trust me, they come out as the original!
Tigelle are commonly served along with another Emilian classic: the Gnocco Fritto. Both of them, Tigelle and Gnocco Fritto are stuffed with a variety of cured meats and local cheeses, like Giuncata, Stracchino, or Parmigiano Reggiano.
The most traditional ingredient paired with Tigelle is Pesto Modenese, a delicious spread made with lard, garlic, and rosemary.
The traditional wine to drink with Tigelle and Gnocco Fritto is the Lambrusco, a local sparkling red wine.
The Tigelle are also prepared with sweet fillings and served at the end of the meal as a dessert. The most popular sweet stuffing is Hazelnuts spread, Mascarpone cream, and Blueberry marmalade.
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
LARD ALTERNATIVES - Even if the traditional fat to prepare the Tigelle is the lard, if your diet or your taste requires alternatives, it is possible to prepare them also with butter or extra-virgin olive oil.
PREPARING TIGELLE IN ADVANCE - even if the best way to appreciate Tigelle is within a few hours after they are ready, it is possible to freeze them and reheat slowly in the oven.
- 3.5 cups bread flour (450 g)
- 4 tbsp lard (50 g)
- 1 bag active yeast (7 g)
- ½ cup whole milk (120 ml)
- ½ cup white wine (120 ml)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp table salt
- First, pour the room temperature milk into a bowl and add the yeast and the sugar.
- Then, stir well with your hands to dissolve the yeast completely.
- Now, add half of the flour a little at a time, kneading the dough until consistent.
- At this point, add the rest of the ingredients, and keep working the dough with your hands.
- Once the ingredients are well absorbed, transfer the dough on a board and knead 10 to 15 minutes. Dust with flour if needed.
- In the end, you want a smooth and elastic ball of dough.
- Finally, leave the ball over the board and cover with a damp cloth. Let the Tigelle mixture rise until double its size: around 2 hours.
- Now, reduce the Tigelle dough into 18 pieces. You want your pieces to weight about 40 g.
- Them, shape the pieces into little balls and cover again with the cloth.
- Let the balls double the size, around 1 hour.
SHAPING AND COOKING TIGELLE
- Now, preheat a skillet, best if cast iron, over medium heat.
- Roll out 3 or 4 tigelle balls to obtain discs ¼ inch thick. I prefer to use a tortilla press: fast and easy!
- Finally, cook the Tigelle in the skillet a couple of minutes per side.
- Serve immediately.
The first time could be a little challenging to find the right temperature: that depends on your skillet and heats. But, after the first attempts, cooking Tigelle will be very easy!
Amount Per Serving Calories 598Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 15mgCarbohydrates 91gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 16g
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