The recipe for Libyan-Italian roschette is a cherished family tradition passed down to me by my grandmother. They bear a resemblance to Italian tarallucci, which you might be familiar with, at least in terms of appearance, but their flavor is closer to that of breadsticks.
My grandmother Emilia was born and raised in Tripoli, but had to escape persecution and move to Italy, as many other Jews from North Africa and other Arab countries in her time.
Resettling into a new country, my grandmother brought with her all the traditions and customs of her old world. For example, she would always offer roschette to guests or acquaintances who came to visit her and our family. Roschette were always available in her kitchen, served at any time in a simple small bowl alongside a steaming cup of Arabic coffee, and needless to say, they vanished immediately!
This recipe is a labor of love because all the little roschette rings have to be crafted manually, but I promise you it’s well worth the time. Also, making roschette is a bit like practicing yoga, it has a meditative quality to it – trust me!
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 500 grams all-purpose flour, approximately
- 2 tablespoons semolina
- 1/2 cube fresh yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- sesame or fennel seeds (optional)
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and add the oils.
- Add to the bowl semolina, salt, some fennel seeds (if you like), and enough flour to achieve an elastic, not sticky dough. The dough should be slightly softer and more elastic than bread dough, to give you a reference. The amount of flour is approximately 500 g, but you'll know when the dough is ready as you knead it, just add it gradually.
- Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C.
- When the dough is well-leavened, the challenging part of the recipe begins: take a small amount of dough with two fingers and roll it very thinly. Then, close it into a ring and place it on a sheet of parchment paper. The dough rings should be very thin because the roschette will continue to expand in the oven. If they're not thin enough, they may turn out too puffy and unappealing. If you prefer sesame seeds instead of fennel on the roschette, lightly brush them with water and sprinkle some sesame seeds on each ring. I would not use both ingredients as they don't mix well in my opinion.
- Bake the roschette for about ten minutes. They should be pale, almost white, but already baked and crunchy when you take them out. A good way to determine if they're ready is if they peel off the parchment paper easily.
- Once you've removed the roschette from the oven, transfer them away from the pan on a cooling grid and let them cool completely.
If you have enjoyed this recipe, you might consider checking out my cookbook Cooking Alla Giudia, because it contains many other recipes from the Jewish Italian tradition that I inherited from my amazing grandmother.