Nothing illustrates the regionalism of Italian food better than the fact that, despite Sarah Palin-like, being able to see Umbria from my Tuscan bedroom, until last Monday I had never heard of torta al testo, their ubiquitous and delicious flatbread.
Most Italian regions have their own flatbreads: Tuscany has schiacciata; Emilia-Romagna piadina; Liguria focaccia, and of course Campania has pizza. All of these are variations on a theme but also very distinct, ranging from soft to crispy in texture, bland to salty in taste.
Torta al testo is the closest Italian bread (I’ve found yet) to pitta. Thick, smooth on the outside, with a soft spongy interior, it’s perfect for sandwiches. It also has the distinction of being extremely quick and easy to make.
Traditionally, this bread was cooked on a testo, a thick cast iron plate heated over hot coals. However, it can easily be made in a hot non-stick frying pan. Delicious hot or cold, it can be filled with charcuterie, cheese, salad, or anything you like. Here it’s pictured with San Daniele prosciutto and scamorza cheese. Buon appetito!
Torta al testo
Preparation time: 5 mins
Resting time: 1hr 30 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Total time: 1hr 55 mins
250g (1 cup) plain flour
10g (1/3 ounce) fresh yeast
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch salt
150g (2/3 cup) water
- Using a mixer with a dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, oil, salt and water together to make a dough.
- Continue to knead with the dough hook for about five minutes.
- Place in a metal bowl and cover with a damp tea cloth. Leave for about one hour and a half or until doubled in size.
- Punch down and then using a rolling pin, flatten into a disk about 1cm (1/2 inch) thick. Prick one side all over with a fork.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan on full flame. When hot, place the bread in the pan pricked side down. Turn the heat down to three quarters and cook for about 7-10 minutes per side.