Ferratelle (also called pizzelle, cancellate, neole, nevole or nivole depending on the area) are one of the most popular Abruzzo recipes.
Beyond the name, their preparation features numerous variations of flavor, including for example the use of cinnamon, which gives an amber color. Some recipes include spicy ingredients, some others want them softer to be easily rolled and stuffed with jam or chocolate cream. One of the most popular versions is in the shape of a heart, perhaps with a sprinkling of icing sugar.
Basically, in Abruzzo we usually distinguish ferratelle in two types:
- Rigid and crispy ferratelle, cooked with limited use of yeast and eggs.
- Soft and thicker ferratelle, very similar to the well-known waffles.
In addition to the number of ingredients and preparation methods, the real difference between the two types of recipes lies in the “iron” tool used to cook them.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Numerous sources state that the origin of the most famous Abruzzo delicacies dates back to Roman times, when Crustulum, a biscuit very similar to modern ferratella, was used to celebrate special occasions.
In the eighteenth century, the irons for the preparation of ferratelle were customized by blacksmiths and artisans, who shaped them like a “gate” decoration and started inserting the initials or family stems of the client. In this way, the irons could be traced easily since it was very common to lend them to friends or neighbors.
At the time, the iron was considered an object of value and was often included in the dowry that a bride carried with her at the time of marriage.
The old irons had a “scissor-like” opening because they were used in the fireplace: that system allowed them to easily release the ferratella after cooking. The right portion of dough for each ferratella is a tablespoon which, according to tradition, must cook for the necessary time to say an “Ave Maria” on one side, and a “Pater Noster” on the other.
The preparation of ferratelle was a moment of conviviality for women who used that time for daily spiritual exercises. There are multiple variations of ferratelle (with the optional addition of vanillin, anise, cinnamon): this is because, being a widespread recipe, every family jealously guards a better variant or a family recipe handed down from grandmothers.
- 1 glass of water (approx. 100 ml)
- 1 glass of olive oil (approx. 100 ml)
- 1 glass of white wine (approx. 100 ml)
- all purpose flour (dose as required)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary, oregano, thyme, other fresh or dried herbs
Mix all ingredients together and work until the dough gets creamy and soft. Being a home recipe there is no precise amount of flour, my suggestion is to dose it a little at a time. For cooking, there are both traditional and electric irons.
Once the dough is ready, heat the iron and place a small amount of dough (about a tablespoon), cook over medium heat until the ferratella turns out golden. With this recipe, the ferratella is rather rigid and pairs perfectly with cold cuts. Serve with cold prosecco, dry white wine, rosé wine.
[Special thanks to my friend and workmate Alessia for sharing her grandmother’s recipe]