This Crescente Bolognese Recipe is a toss between a focaccia and a soft bread stick. It is a simple recipe made with fresh rosemary and rock salt. Drizzled with olive oil it makes the perfect side dish or appetizer!
Bread in Italy is important if not more important (for the Italian at least) than pasta. With over 300 types of bread available here, there is never a problem with finding one you like. Every town, every region has their own. Today I am sharing a delicious recipe from an Italian cookbook “Sorelle Simili” Pane e Roba Dolce, this is a popular bread from Bologna. I hope you like it.
How to make it
In the mixing bowl add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top, let it sit, then stir to combine. Add the flour, lard, oil and chopped rosemary, start to knead then add the salt. Continue to knead to form a soft compact dough.
Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and shape into a ball.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl, rolling the dough in the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm draft free area until doubled in bulk.
Remove the dough from the bowl and roll it (do not knead) into a rectangle shape.
With a pastry wheel, pizza cutter or sharp knife cut the dough into 2-3 inch long strips. Place on a prepared cookie sheet. Cover and let rise.
Before baking brush the dough with a little olive oil, sprinkle with rock salt and more chopped rosemary if desired. Bake until golden. Move immediately to a wire rack to cool.
What is Crescente Bolognese
Crescente in English means grow, in this case an excess or growth of excess bread dough. In Bologna when a baker would make his daily dough, he would keep part of it for the next day’s production and anything over that was used for the baker’s breakfast. To make it even more appetizing for himself he would add pieces of ham butt (gambuccio del prosciutto). At the turn of the century the baker was also the grocery store owner, and since the ham butt was not a desired piece of meat to be sold or bought he would use that rather than waste it. This delicious bread became The Baker’s Breakfast.
This bread can also be filled with cubes of prosciutto and baked as a focaccia rather than as soft bread sticks. Both are delicious. Instead of kneading the dough with rosemary add 1/2 a cup of chopped prosciutto or pancetta or even a combination.
What is lard?
It is a semi-soft white fat derived from the fatty parts of the pig, it has no trans fat and it has a high value of fatty acid in it. Lard has the most monounsaturated fats at 48% compared to olive oil which has 77%. These fats help to lower blood cholesterol levels and maintain healthy cells.
Can I substitute the lard?
If possible I wouldn’t substitute the lard, but if you must, then use unsalted butter, shortening or coconut, vegetable or olive oils. Lard gives the dough a more tender and tasty crust.
Make sure the yeast is active
The yeast you are using could be old or dead, to tell if the yeast is still active, in a small bowl add a 1/2 cup of water, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast and a pinch of sugar over the top, stir it up, then let it stand for about 10 minutes.
What is the best temperature for liquid in yeast bread?
I always make sure my water or milk is lukewarm between 98-105F (36-40C). The liquid shouldn’t be hot or it will kill the yeast. It can even be room temperature, although it may take a little longer for your dough to rise, but longer rising time results in a more flavourful dough.
More Italian Bread Recipes
So if you are looking for a traditional bread from Bologna I hope you give this Crescente Bolognese a try and let me know what you think. Buon Appetito!
Italian Crescente Bolognese Recipe
- ⅓ cup water* lukewarm (80 grams)*
- 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 cups all purpose or bread flour (260 grams)
- 1¾ tablespoons lard or butter (soft)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾-1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
If the dough is too dry than add 1-2 tablespoons extra. I added 1 ½ tablespoons extra.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (for brushing)
- ½-1 tablespoon rock salt (for sprinkling)
- In the mixing bowl add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then stir to combine. Add the flour, lard, olive oil and chopped rosemary, start to knead then add the salt. Continue to knead for approximately 5 minutes to form a soft compact dough.
- Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and shape into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, rolling the dough in the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm draft free area for 1- 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and roll it (do not knead) into a rectangle shape ½ inch / 1.2 cm thick. With a pastry wheel, pizza cutter or sharp knife cut the dough into 2-3 inch long strips. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and let rise for approximately 50-60 minutes in a warm draft free area.
- Pre-heat oven to 375F (190C).
- Before baking brush the dough with some olive oil, sprinkle with rock salt and more chopped rosemary if desired. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until golden. Move the crescente immediately to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!
D J Smith says
I have mixed emotions about this bread. The resultant “bread” was not expected. The texture more resembles a tasteless shortbread texture. The rosemary did add a flavor hint. Indeed it is a VERY dry dough. I added 2-Tbsp of water as you suggested and that allowed the dough to work. That said, we found that dipping a bite in olive oil brought out a full and bright surprise. That alone brought my evaluation from a 2 star to a 4 star.