An Italian skillet flatbread: torta al testo from Umbria

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 fired 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
My torta is leavened so it’s lighter and more digestible. Sometimes I add an egg and a little cheese, which is optional. The torta 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 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 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, 2-4 hours depending on room temperature. 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 – 30 to 45 min depending on thickness – 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)



  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. 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?

  3. 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….

  4. 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.

      • 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

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