Frittata di pane (Bread Frittata)

Frankantipasti, secondi piatti32 Comments

Frittata di pane (Bread Frittata)

This is yet another recipe using leftover bread, as a frittata di pane or Bread Frittata. Here the bread is trimmed of its crust, then cubed and soaked in milk and water until soft. The softened bread is then mixed with eggs, cheese and parsley to make a surprisingly tasty frittata.

Simple cooking in the cucina povera tradition that, as always, makes the most of its humble ingredients. If the bread is homemade and the eggs farm fresh, it’s really something quite special. And if you’re in the mood, you can dress it up in any number of ways.

Ingredients

  • 100-150g (3-1/2 to -5 oz) stale bread, trimmed of its crust
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 25g (1 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • A few sprigs of parsley, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions

Cut the bread into cubes and place in a bowl. Pour over the milk, then add enough water (or more milk if you’re feeling rich) to cover. Let the cubes soak in the milk until they are soft, about 30 minutes.

Place the soaked bread cubes in a colander to drain.

Beat the eggs with the cheese and parsley, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Squeeze the bread cubes of their liquid and add them to the bowl. Give it all a turn to mix everything well. Let rest for a few minutes to let the egg mixtures impregnate the bread.

Heat some olive oil in a non-stick or carbon steel skillet, add the eggs and proceed to fry one side, then the other, over gentle heat, following our instructions for making a frittata. The frittata should be thoroughly cooked through and nicely browned on both sides. You can test the frittata for doneness by piercing it with a paring knife; if it comes out clean, the frittata should be done.

Turn out the frittata on to a serving plate and let it cool a bit before serving. Bread Frittata is also quite nice at room temperature.

Frittata di pane (Bread Frittata)

Notes on Bread Frittata

While this recipe is very forgiving, one thing you do need is the right kind of bread: as I mentioned at the top of the post, the very best kind is a pane casereccio you’ve made at home. But short of that, look for rustic loaf with a good, firm crumb. Sandwich bread won’t work; it will fall apart while it soaks.

As we explained in our master post on frittatas, there are various ways to cook a frittata. Classically, you flip it over to fry it on both sides, usually with the help of a plate or two. That’s the best method for this frittata in my opinion, especially if you want to get a nice and even, golden brown crust like this:

Frittata

Be patient with your frittata di pane, brown it slowly so it has time to cook through. With its bread filling, this frittata may take a bit longer than other frittatas you may have made before.

If you really must, you can use a small “cheat” to save you the trouble of flipping: fry the frittata on the bottom until it is almost completely cooked through, then finish off the top under a hot broiler. Just know that the top will be a bit uneven, with the peaks browning faster than the valleys.

The measurements for making a Bread Frittata are very flexible. Some recipes call for just enough egg to bind the bread together—which turns this frittata into something quite close indeed to French toast. Others call for just a couple of slices of bread for six eggs, for a more classic frittata. And everything in between. This recipe falls in the middle of the pack, and I like the way it produces a firm, slightly “bouncy” texture that very much tastes of bread but is still recognizably a frittata. But it’s up to you—and, of course, how much bread and eggs you have on hand.

Variations

Personally, I really enjoy the simplicity of a frittata di pane just as it is. But if you’d like to gussy it up, there are lots of ways to do it. You could add a dollop of ricotta or bits of mozzarella or another meltable cheese you fancy, to your egg mixture. You could throw in a few cherry or grape tomatoes split in halves or quarters. Or some vegetables like mushrooms or zucchini, sliced and sautéed in olive oil. Or if you’re feeling carnivorous, some sautéed sausage or pancetta. And instead of minced parsley, you could substitute another fresh herb—a few basil leaves or perhaps some mint.

Frittatas are a welcoming food. You can add just about anything that strikes your fancy. Again, it’s up to you, but as always, do try to keep things in balance.

Frittata di pane (Bread Frittata)

Frittata di pane (Bread Frittata)

Ingredients

  • 100-150g (3-1/2 to -5 oz) stale bread, trimmed of its crust
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 25g (1 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • A few sprigs of parsley, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Cut the bread into cubes and place in a bowl. Pour over the milk, then add enough water (or more milk if you're feeling rich) to cover.
  2. Let the cubes soak in the milk until they are soft, about 30 minutes.Place the soaked bread cubes in a colander to drain.
  3. Beat the eggs with the cheese and parsley, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Squeeze the bread cubes of their liquid and add them to the bowl. Give it all a turn to mix everything well. Let rest for a few minutes to let the egg mixtures impregnate the bread.
  4. Heat some olive oil in a non-stick or carbon steel skillet, add the eggs and proceed to fry one side, then the other, over gentle heat, following our instructions for making a frittata. The frittata should be thoroughly cooked through and nicely browned on both sides. You can test the frittata for doneness by piercing it with a paring knife; if it comes out clean, the frittata should be done.
  5. Turn out the frittata on to a serving plate and let it cool a bit before serving. Bread Frittata is also quite nice at room temperature.
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32 Comments on “Frittata di pane (Bread Frittata)”

  1. What a lovely recipe and photo! Your food makes me drool!!!! How I miss all my Italian Grandmothers! Reading your posts always makes me still feel connected some how! thanks for taking the time and sharing with us! Can you recommend a type of bread to buy ?

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! In terms of bread, really any well structured, “artisanal” bread would do. As mentioned, the kind you get from my pane casareccio recipe is ideal, if not a similar store-bought kind sometimes called a “boule”.

  2. We make frittatas for lunch using our leftovers but have not made a bread one. I’ll have to ask my husband if his mother used to make one like yours. His father brought a loaf of Italian bread home from the bakery every day and I know his mother used the left over hard bread for other uses.

    1. There are so many different recipes for leftover bread, so just that reason. But I do think this is one of the most lovely, and yet little known.

  3. Thank you for reminding me about this simple and beautiful dish. The last time I’ve made it was several years ago and in the oven : it was crusty all over … definitely have to make it more often 🙂

  4. I too have never seen a recipe like this. Frittatas are one of my go-to dishes to serve at for brunch and dinner, but I’ve never heard of adding bread. The texture almost looks like bread itself. I will definitely try this the next time I make one. I love learning about new cooking concepts and this one is so fun! And delicious, I’m sure.

  5. Your frittata di pane is beautiful, the mark of a low and slow cooking process is clearly visible and lovely. I’ve been making a version of this for years, it makes a hearty breakfast from leftovers, perfect for the cottage where you try to use us all the ingredients you brought up that weekend. I have often soaked the bread with the milk and eggs in a baking pan the night before and then put it into the oven in the morning. It makes for a lovely brunch too.

  6. Frank, I love checking in with your website because it makes me feel like I’m in my Mom’s and Grandma’s kitchens again. This is the frittata of my childhood and one I still make today. My Mom would saute thinly sliced onions and potatoes first – just until soft, not browned – then proceed with the rest of the ingredients. My grandparents came from a small town outside of Bari called Modugno and this is a great example of their ‘cucina povera’ cuisine!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Janet! That version with onions and potatoes sounds very nice. You know, Modugno is only 11 km from my paternal grandfather’s town on Grumo Appula. Small world!

  7. I agree with Ron here. You post such unique and fun Italian recipes, Frank, and I thank you for that! So this frittata reminds me a lot of a ‘spoon bread’ that my Mom would make when we were little. Laura hates that spoon bread (too eggy for her), so I haven’t made it in ages. But now I want to try making that one in a skillet and frying the top and bottom for added texture and flavor. This looks like a delicious side dish!

  8. I think frittata is never too far from any Italian cook’s mind: it makes a meal with pretty much anything you have available. Having said that, I have never made one with bread nor have I eaten it. I guess bread no longer fresh always found other uses in our household (particularly in the summer, when my father made himself panzanella for breakfast as often as he could). I am with you in terms of keeping things simple, particularly if the base ingredients are of good quality. Lovely recipe!

    1. Thanks Simona! Panzanella is wonderful, too, as you say especially in the summer. But I have to admit, I had never heard of having it for breakfast!

  9. Hello Frank,
    Should the bread be cut into small or large cubes? Your frittata looks quite smooth. Should the cubes have lost their shape before the mixture is cooked? I’ll be curious to try this out. I love old bread recipes. One day I’ll find one that employs all these discarded crusts.

    1. Yes, the cubes can/should be rather small, but not tiny. The precise size won’t matter too much as when you squeeze them dry after soaking, they will tear into shreds. Hence the very smooth texture. Enjoy!

      As for the crusts, well, they can always be made crushed into breadcrumbs…

  10. Growing up in an Italian home frittata was a regular meal. Often mum would add leftover pasta but never bread. I love this idea and can’t wait to try it. This is a recipe I know my family will love!

  11. Frittatas are my go-to dish when time runs short – but have never made one with bread ! I make these in a fast way: no flipping, no oven – stovetop to begin and then into the grill drawer of the stove . . . what you call the broiler. Love the soufflé-like top one usually gets by this method . . .

    1. I use that method, too, when I’m not in the mood to flip. It is very convenient and the results as you say can be very appealing.

  12. I’ve never heard of this dish! It looks fantastic — really cool. I love traditional frittatas (although I sometimes flip them, I usually finish them in the oven). This one, I’d definitely try to flip. No plates — living dangerously. 🙂

  13. Fantastic, Frank – Mark and I love frittate of all variety, though have never had one this way. And I must (sheepishly) admit that I have never flipped a frittata – I have always broiled the top for fear of a culinary disaster… flipping it onto the floor, or – worse yet – onto a hot burner!

    1. David, if you use the two-plate method, there’s really very little risk of disaster. Although I do run the top under the broiler, too, if I’m not in the mood.

      1. or use a larger (than the pan) flat, thin lid – the handle makes it easier to flip. I have never seen a frittata like this and it sounds excellent. I do have lots of stale bread, which I collect, like a war-time pensioner, because …”…non si sa mai…”

  14. Frank, you continue to post Italian recipes I’ve not encountered and that’s a good thing. You’re bread frittata sounds very good. I would suspect it to be a bit denser with more of a bite than a traditional frittata which would be interesting to try. I have some bread that’s getting lazy that should be perfect for your frittata by tomorrows brunch.

    1. Great, Ron. And yes, the texture is different than the usual frittata. I’d describe it as “bouncier” as odd as that sounds, but if you try it, you’ll see. I rather like it.

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