Crescia Sfogliata | Flaky Italian Flatbread Recipe
Updated: Mar 18
This Italian flatbread variation is similar in appearance to the classic Piadina Romagnola… but appearances can be deceiving! Its unique method of preparation gives the flatbread a wonderful, flaky texture, and the addition of a generous amount of black pepper results in a distinct, spicy taste.
What Makes This Flatbread Different?
The dough is actually flattened twice. The first time, it is spread with a little bit of lard then rolled up like a carpet. When the dough is then flattened again and cooked, these layers separate slightly (kind of like puff pastry) which results in the flaky texture of crescia sfogliata. In fact, the word “sfogliata” literally means “flaky.”
The ingredients also make a difference. With the addition of egg, milk, olive oil and plenty of pepper, crescia sfogliata has a very bold taste. This means it’s really yummy to eat even by itself!
Tips for Making the Best Flatbread
Crescia sfogliata is very easy to make, but it does take some time as the dough should rest in the fridge for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight.
There’s no correct amount of milk to add into the dough, as this depends greatly on the flour used, the humidity, etc. The only way to make a good dough is to add a little bit of milk at a time, until you achieve a dough texture that is soft, moldable, but not sticky. Because it’s a fat dough, it won’t be springy. When you push a finger in, the indentation should remain.
How to Serve & Eat Crescia Sfogliata Flatbread
As mentioned above, it’s delicious eaten just as it is. In Italy, it’s usually filled like a sandwich. You can really put anything you would like between two pieces. We really enjoyed making a spread with ricotta, pesto, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, complimented with some cherry tomatoes.
Storing & Saving Piadina
Once cooked, crescia sfogliata can be stored in a plastic bag for a few days. Don’t keep it in paper, it will dry out completely. We recommend reheating it in a pan or warm oven before eating, if possible! For longer storage, the cooked flatbread can be frozen.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make Crescia Sfogliata here:
CRESCIA SFOGLIATA RECIPE
Makes: 6 10-inch flatbreads
Cook Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes, plus at least 5 hours of unattended resting time
For this recipe, you will need:
4 cups (500g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
4 tsp (20g) salt
2 tsp fresh black pepper, or to taste
4 tbsp (50g) extra virgin olive oil
Whole milk (approximately 1 1/3 cup or 320ml, see above and have extra on hand)
1 large egg
Lard as needed (approximately 3-4 tbsp)
Bench scraper or knife
Kitchen scale (optional)
Large non-stick skillet or flat griddle
In a bowl, mix the flour, salt and pepper together. Pour the mixture into a pile on a large work surface. Use your hand to form a hollow in the center of the pile, like a volcano. Into this hollow, add the olive oil and pour a small amount of milk. Whisk the egg separately and add this as well.
Whisk the egg/milk/olive oil together with a fork while gradually incorporating the surrounding flour. As a thick paste starts to form, gradually pour a little bit more milk in at a time and work it in with the fork. Once the paste thickens into more of a dough, start folding in the rest of the flour by hand and kneading it.
Continue pouring a little more milk at a time onto the dough and kneading it in. Stop adding milk when all of the flour is incorporated and the dough is soft and silky, but not sticky. If it does become sticky, dust with a little bit of flour as necessary.
Cover the dough with a bowl and let it rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Then, knead it again for a few minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and even. Roll it into a thick sausage shape beneath your palms, and cut the dough into 6 equal portions using a bench scraper or knife. If you have one handy, you can use a kitchen scale to weigh the pieces so they’re all the same size.
Work on one piece of dough at a time and keep the others covered with a bowl so they don’t dry out. Use a rolling pin to roll one portion of dough into a large circle, about 10-inches (25cm) in diameter. If the dough sticks to your work surface or rolling pin, you can dust it very lightly with flour but do so only if necessary and try to keep the added flour to a minimum.
Use a spoon or your fingers to spread a very thin layer of lard over the entire top surface of the dough. Then, starting from one side, tightly roll the dough sheet up like a carpet. Rub the outside of this tube with another thin layer of lard. Finally, roll the tube horizontally into a tight spiral—it should look like a cinnamon roll.
Wrap the roll in plastic and place in the fridge. Repeat the above steps to make rolls from the rest of the dough portions. Let them rest in the fridge for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to cook, place a large non-stick skillet to preheat over high heat. When the pan is hot, turn the heat down slightly to medium/high.
From cold, unwrap a dough portion and roll it out flat again with a rolling pin. It should be the same size as before, about 10-inches in diameter. Carefully lay the dough flat in the pan and cook for 1 minute. Flip it with a spatula and cook another minute.
Continue to flip the flatbread, cooking for a minute, for about 3 times per side or until it begins to brown deeply in spots. Remove from the heat. Repeat the steps to cook the remaining flatbreads.