Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Crescente or Tigelle

I have been away for long time and I have negletted my blog. It's time to recover the lost time.

In Emilia, more precisely in the Modena area, a very rustic meal can be prepared with le crescente, as they call these tiny disks of bread in the mountains of the Appennino around Modena. Elsewhere they are known as tigelle, from the tigelliera, the pan used for cooking.
The names here can get very confusing, I'll try to clarify:

La crescente (singular) is a focaccia from Bologna, usually enriched with chopped salumi and lard in the dough.
La crescenta, singular, le crescente plural are these disks of bread we are talking about. They are known elsewhere as tigelle.
Le crescentine, in Bologna, are tiny bit of dough, deep fried. Elsewhere also known as gnocco fritto. IL gnocco fritto, notice the wrong article, they are very sensitive about the use of IL.

I have seen many different recipes for crescente, going from a very simple dough: flour, salt, oil (or lard/butter), yeast and lukewarm milk, to the use of a good amount of cream instead of plain milk. In some trattorie they serve them pretty thin (this way they'll create a pocket in the middle that is good for stuffing with salumi), the original I heard are generally thicker and were served with sausages or stews, etc. Nowadays they are very often eaten with a pesto (don't think of the ligurian pesto, it's minced lardo with garlic and rosmary), with stracchino and rucola, with salumi or even nutella.

This is the tigelliera.
It's a very heavy cast-iron pan. This is a 7 disks tigelliera but you can buy a smaller 4 disks one. They are even electric tigelliere around. When the pan is pretty warm, on both sides, try with one tigella to test the temperature, adjust it if you need. Cook the crescente turning the pan. As soon as they are ready put them in a basket lined with a cloth to keep them warm. They don't keep very well and they are best eaten straight away, warm.

As you can see, with the tigelle in the pan I tried different thicknesses and I decided that I like them thinner, plus the cook better.
In this case the dough was
250 g of flour
2% salt
2 tablespoons of extra virgin oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
and enough warm milk to get a soft not sticky dough.
Let rise until double in bulk. Divide into little balls (I would do no more than 15-20 grams each) flatten with a rolling pin to fit the disks of tigelliera and let proof covered.

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