This Italian Friselle is baked once then toasted to perfection. Topped with fresh tomatoes, this simple twice-baked bread is packed with flavour. Serve it as an appetizer or snack either way you will enjoy it.
I remember one of my first shopping days and my sister-in-law bought a bag of these, she offered me one as is, they were really hard but she told me to try a couple at home topped with olive oil and a tomato topping, again another amazing discovery for me!
You may notice this looks like a bagel but in fact the end result is quite different. A bagel is usually soft and chewy and has at one point or another been boiled in the process. Friselle bread is hard, crunchy and almost biscuit-like. In fact, it is more like bruschetta than it is a bagel.
If you have ever seen mini packages of them in your local bakery or store and wondered what they were, this is it! People tend to eat them as a grab-n-go snack or serve them as crackers to dip. This bread recipe is a bigger version of that!
This double-baked bread has been around for centuries. Known for its long shelf-life, it was used by travellers going long distances and by many people during hard economic times in Italy. The addition of olive oil, and other various toppings, was introduced as a way to make the friselle edible again if it became too dry to eat!
And as with many things, over time it became a popular snack item usually drizzled with water, sprinkled with oil and salt, and topped with delicious tomatoes.
How to make them
FOR THE BIGA
In a small/medium bowl add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top, let sit for 5 minutes, then stir. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a draft-free warm area until doubled.
In the bowl of the stand-up mixer add the all-purpose and bread flour (or semolina) and whisk to combine. Slowly add the water and mix with a fork, add the biga and knead with the dough hook, then add the salt, continue to knead to form a smooth dough.
On a lightly floured flat surface form the dough into a ball in a lightly oiled bowl, rolling the dough to lightly cover in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in bulk.
Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and divide into 5 equal parts. Form into balls and with the round end of a wooden spoon poke a hole in each ball, gently stretch to enlarge the hole.
Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, cover with either plastic wrap or a clean tea towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free area again.
Pre-heat oven and then bake until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature. Slice each roll in half through the middle and place cut side up back on the cookie sheet. Bake again until golden and hard and dry.
Remove to a wire rack to cool. Serve topped with the tomato filling.
What is a Biga?
Biga is a starter, made up of yeast, water, and flour, used to bake many Italian breads. It contains a bit of yeast already which allows you to use less yeast within the bread recipe itself. This starter provides an extra layer of flavour to your bread.
How to serve them
Friselle is definitely a snack that can be put to good use because it can be paired with so many things and good enough to stand on its own!
The traditional way to eat them is topped with tomatoes but you can also use it as toast in the morning, spread with your favourite jam. Other toppings might include, peanut butter, Nutella, or even just butter. Use it to dunk in your tea, coffee, or soup or serve it as you would a bruschetta with various cold cuts or cheeses.
Traditional Italian Ciabatta Bread
Homemade Rustic No Yeast Bread
How to store them
They will keep in your pantry or cupboard for up to a year. This is great for last-minute snacks or appetizers.
This Italian Friselle recipe is simple to follow at home and produces a wonderful snack or appetizer idea, whether planned or in a pinch! Enjoy!
Italian Friselle Recipe
FOR THE BIGA
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoon lukewarm water (105F/40C)
- 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour or semolina flour
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water (105F/40C)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium/large tomatoes (seeded and chopped)
- 1 medium celery stalk (chopped)
- 1 half red onion (chopped if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 5-6 fresh basil leaves chopped
- 1 small fresh mozzarella (chopped if desired)
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
FOR THE BIGA
- In a small/medium bowl add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top, let sit for 5 minutes, then stir. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a draft free warm area for about 2 hours or doubled.
- In the bowl of the stand up mixer add the all purpose and bread flour (or semolina) and whisk to combine. Slowly add the water and mix with a fork, add the biga and knead with the dough hook for about 30 seconds, then add the salt, continue to knead for about 6-7 minutes to form a smooth dough. On a lightly floured flat surface form the dough into a ball in a lightly oiled bowl, rolling the dough to lightly cover in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free area for about 2 hours until doubled in bulk.
- Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and divide into 5 equal parts (about 70 grams each). Form into balls and with the round end of a wooden spoon poke a hole in each ball, gently stretch to enlarge the hole. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, cover with either plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm, draft free area for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Before baking enlarge the holes again if needed.
- Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C).
- Bake for about 10-15 minutes until lightly golden, remove from the oven, lower the oven temperature to 340F (170C). Slice each roll in half through the middle and place cut side up back on the cookie sheet. Bake again for 30-35 minutes or until golden and hard, they should be dry. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Serve topped with the tomato filling.
- In a medium bowl add all the ingredients and toss together.
MARY B says
GREW UP IN THE BX.. AND USED TO BUY THE FRIZELLE ALL. THE TIME. CAN;T GET THEM HERE IN TUCSON, BUT THRILLED THAT I CAN MAKE MY OWN NOW. SORRY MY HUSBAND ISN’T HERE TO ENJOY. HE WOULD LOVE THEM ALSO AGAIN. WILL LET YOU KNOW HOW THEY CAME OUT. I’M SURE MY FAMILY WILL ALL ENJOY THEM AGAIN. THANKS EVER SO MUCH. CIAO, MARY
Hi Mary B, thanks so much, I hope you enjoy them and sorry your husband can’t enjoy them also. Take care.
Helen Ciotto says
Thank you so much for sending me the recipe that I’ve wanted for so long I can’t wait to make frizells and the recipe is it has been marked so plainly that I don’t think I’ll have any trouble making it and I’m looking at all the other recipes and I really appreciate all of this thank you thank you so very much
Hi Helen, thanks so much, let me know how it turns out. Have a great week.
Caterina Ferlauto says
I remember mum making them since I was a child in Italy moved to Australia and the tradition kept on
I now make them every Christmas so that we can take them away on holidays as we cant go on holidays unless i make them.
my grandkids love them just wet and topped with ripened tomatoes, oregano salt and extravirgin oil
Hi Caterina, thanks so much, glad to bring back memories. And yes nothing like them topped with tomatoes and olive oil. Have a wonderful week.
Peter A Combariati says
My Grandmother would take a friselle run it under some water to moisten, then top to taste with some salt, black pepper, Olive oil, red wine vinegar and oregano and that was it, it was a delicious treat.
Hi Peter, thanks and yes it is so good. Have a great week.
Luisa Bellissimo says
My Nonna used to make these in a pinch, without a written recipe of course!
I will definitely be making these very soon, even though in the greater Toronto area, Woodbridge in particular there are very good bakeries with great tasting freselli!
Thanks so very much for this recipe!
Hi Luisa, thanks, it seems Italians make everything without a recipe. Have a great weekend.
Brooke S says
I am in love with your recipes, and have both books/ebook. I would love for you to explore sourdough baking Italian style, how did the nonna’s bake before yeast was commercially available? Thank you so much!
Hi Brooke, thanks so much, funny you should ask. I am actually doing an Italian sourdough starter (Lievito Madre). It takes awhile so when I am done I will post it. Thanks for asking.