Panzerotti dough is similar to pizza or focaccia, but it is stuffed with tomato and mozzarella and then deep fried to perfection.
Panzerotti breads are so Italian that there is no a real translation into English, like pasta, pizza or focaccia. They are prepared with a dough similar to that of pizza or focaccia (see tips) and are stuffed with tomato and mozzarella, closed to a half moon shape and then deep fried until golden brown.
They trace back their origin to the peasant tradition of Apulia, in particular to Bari (a beautiful Medieval port city). They are an example of how you can prepare an appetizing dish with a few simple ingredients. We often confuse panzerotti and calzoni, and actually there really is a difference: panzerotti are fried, while calzoni are baked in the oven. Panzerotti can be served either as an appetizer (I suggest a smaller size) or as a hearty snack. I usually prepare them for dinner as a main course accompanied by a seasonal salad. The recipe with tomato and mozzarella is classic, and you can add a pinch of oregano for some aroma or some ham for a richer flavor. Panzerotti are very versatile – use your creativity to determine which is the best filling for you. Last but not least sweet, nutella-filled panzerotti are delicious, too!
- 500 g (3 cups) high-gluten flour (Manitoba)
- 300 ml water (1 cup + 3 tablespoons) at 45°C, 110 °F
- 15 g (3 teaspoons) salt
- 10 g (2 teaspoons) sugar
- 1 package (7 g; 1 heaping teaspoon) dried yeast or 1 cube (25 g; about 1 ounce) fresh yeast
- Peanut oil for frying
- 12 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 450 g (1 pound) mozzarella cheese for pizza, cut into cubes
- In a small pitcher dissolve sugar and yeast in lukewarm water. Sugar is the so-called “nourishment” for the yeast
- In a large glass bowl mix flour and salt. Add water and mix well with a wooden spoon until incorporated
- Remove the dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly for about 5-7 minutes. Do not add too much flour otherwise the dough will get tough
- Divide the dough in 12 small balls of equal size. Arrange the dough on a tray 5 cm (2 inch) apart. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place (about 30°C, 86°F) for about 90 minutes until doubled.
- Remove the dough from the tray. On a lightly floured surface press down each ball with the palm of your hand and roll with a pin until you have a disk of 12 cm (about 5 inch) diameter
- Place a spoon of tomato sauce on each disk, spreading a little bit. Add a handful of mozzarella. Fold over to make a half moon shape. Press the edges tightly together. It is an important step to prevent the filling from spilling out during cooking
- Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan to 180°C (375°F). Fry panzerotti for 1-2 min. on each side, turning only once, until golden. Drain on paper towel and serve immediately.