madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking

torta al testo


traditional Umbrian flat bread

torta al testo, a traditional Umbrian flat bread

TORTA AL TESTO, also named crescia, is one of the most traditional Umbrian peasant foods, probably of Roman origin.  This savory flat bread is not dissimilar to the piadina from Romagna and not far away from a Mexican wheat tortilla.  In the past the torta was unleavened and cooked on a stone, the testo, placed over hot coals in the fireplace. This was a practical way to prepare bread on a daily basis as leavened bread required the use of a work intensive wood oven.

The torta al testo  is still prepared in many Umbrian homes using a cast iron plate on the stove top. I make it with yeast to make it lighter and more digestible and sometimes I add one egg and a little cheese.  You can omit cheese and eggs if you wish. It is often served alongside a platter of antipasto or with chicken alla cacciatora or stuffed with our delicious prosciutto from Norcia.


  • 300 gr (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 200 ml (3/4 cup) water at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let it stand 1 minute, or until the yeast is creamy. Stir until the yeast dissolves. In a food processor, combine flour, cheese, olive oil, sugar and salt. Mix briefly. Add the egg first and then the yeast mixture.

Mix at maximum speed until a soft ball of dough forms. Add additional warm water if the dough does not form a ball or if you  have omitted cheese and eggs. Alternatively mix ingredients by hand in a large bowl, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour to prevent sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a warm, draft-free place, cover with a tea towel and let it rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. You can also apply my slow dough method: make the dough with only 1/4 teaspoon yeast and let it proof overnight and up to 24 hours.

When ready to cook, heat a cast iron skillet – you can also use a Mexican comal – on medium fire. Transfer the dough on a table, and flatten the dough with a rolling pin or with your hands until it is about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Place the flattened dough over the skillet (no need to grease) and cook slowly until dry and golden. Cut into wedges and wrap it in a cotton tea towel to keep it warm until ready to serve. Fill wedges with cured meats  -no melted cheese please – or grilled sausages and leaf vegetables sauté in garlic and olive oil.
Serves 4

torta al testo stuffed with grilled sausage and rapini (cime di rapa)

torta al testo stuffed with grilled sausage and rapini (cime di rapa)

Author: madonnadelpiatto

Former scientist, I now run B&B and cooking school Alla Madonna del Piatto in Assisi, Umbria, central Italy, together with my husband Ruurd, daughter Tea and truffle dog Google. We love good food and wine, travel, beautiful handicrafts like textiles and pottery. We feel fortunate to be able to share our magical mountain with many friends from all over the world.

15 thoughts on “torta al testo

  1. Okay, as if your blog wasn’t awesome enough, this recipe is makes it moreso! I live in a climate that turns to frozen tundra every winter, where I’m often left without power or access to town for days on end, and I often wonder: how would I bake bread without an oven? Sure I could cook other foods on my grill, but how to do bread? Well, you’ve answered my question! Now I can totally cook bread on my grill, too! Just need to get me a cast-iron skillet!


  2. Pingback: How to Bake When the Power Goes Out «

  3. Pingback: pere al Vin Santo « madonna del piatto

  4. This looks so good and not too difficult to make. How long would it take to cook on the stovetop, perhaps 20 minutes to get it to a golden colour?


  5. Hi Sandra, yes indeed. About 20 min on low heat. It should not cook too fast as it might burn outside. It really is a low attendance dish.


  6. I wrote down the recipe in my breakfast bible. You know what that means? It means I will be thinking about you while making the guests’ breakfasts….


  7. dearest, I am honored. The torta al testo is sturdy food and very filling. May be not suitable to guests with a light stomach?


  8. A buddy recommended me to look at this post, nice post, interesting read… keep up the good work!


  9. I’ve just found you and look forward to reading your recipes.



  10. Pingback: Bread |

  11. Great idea for an easy to make bread…..I’ve been going through your recipes and plenty of great ones me and my wife will be trying. Keep up the good work.




    • thank you Bill,lovely to meet you!


      • Just so you know Lachine is a suburb of Montreal in Canada….we have a large population of people of Italian decent and are related to several through marriage… the food and the people… must be the hot blooded Latin blood….lol….

        Regards + HH



  12. good to know you are enjoying the Italian life in Lachine!


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