A humble dish from Bologna that could rival pizza in popularity is coming to London after award-winning Italian food brand Indegno decided to set up shop in the heart of Shoreditch.
Having seen impressive growth across its three locations in Emilia-Romagna since the company’s formation in 2019, the brand is looking to elevate its ‘crescentina’ outside of Italy, bringing the signature ‘Indegna’ – a classic crescentina filled with artisanal mortadella sausage and parmesan cream – and sought after ’50 Special’ – filled with grilled porchetta, homemade potato croquette, caramelised onions and melted scamorza cheese – to the East End.
What is crescentina?
A humble dish from the region of Emilia-Romagna, traditional crescentine (that’s plural btw…) are handmade from freshly rolled dough, which are then fried and filled with high quality and fresh Italian ingredients, such as cheeses, hams and cooked vegetables – think folded pizza packed with all your favourite fillings.
Crescentine are among the oldest gastronomic specialities of the Bologna region and even date back to the Middle Ages! The availability of lard, a common product due to the many pig farms in the area, led to its rapid adoption in the local peasant community, being the perfect ingredient for frying and cooking. Over time, it has had many names, including “gnocco fritto”, “torta fritta” but the most commonly used became the “crescentina”.
Hailed by the Bolognese as a heritage dish renowned for its appearance at countryside festivals or as a charcuterie board side for cheese and hams in restaurants, this soulful street food item has been given a contemporary twist by Indegno.
The ‘Indegno Way’
Indegno’s co-founders – one of which was a pastry chef at a Michelin-star restaurant – are bringing it to the UK, and have developed ‘The Indegno Way’, a meticulous process using organic flours and ancient grain semolina to form its dough – which is completely vegan.
This method earned Indegno the major accolade of ‘best regional street food’ from Italy’s largest food network Gambero Rosso, and the brand advise eating the TikTok-worthy street snack with friends and a bottle of beer for some added cheer.
@indegno.uk Hungry yet? A street food snack born in Bologna is coming to the UK – try the perfect crescentina at Indegno! Brick Ln, Shoreditch #LondonFood #StreetFood #LondonFoodSpots #BrickLane #Shoreditch #ShoreditchLondon #BrickLaneLondon #BrickLaneFood #HowTo #ForYou #Trending ♬ Little Things x Gypsy Woman – L BEATS MASHUP – Jorja Smith
With a focus on provenance, their experts have carefully selected ingredients including stone-milled organic flour, semolina flour from ancient wheat varieties found in Italy, malt, sunflower oil, oat milk, yeast, and baking powder. The dough is then freshly prepared and kneaded daily, left to proof overnight, then rolled out and stretched by hand upon ordering – resulting in a light and easily digestible, vegan dough.
The crescentine are then stuffed with a number of appetising fillings, including traditional options like mortadella sausage, parma ham, various Italian cheeses such as stracciatella, provolone, pecorino and parmesan cream, as well as vegan and vegetarian choices like, friggione (an Italian classic relish of slow cooked onions and tomatoes) and some delightful ‘guilty pleasures’, including its sweet sensation the Chocolate Dream – made with Nutella, Italian chocolate and hazelnuts.
How to make crescentina
Want to crush your crescentina craving? Follow the simple recipe below to try making a crescentina at home – or just head down to Brick Lane, Shoreditch to get one from the masters at Indegno!
500g plain flour
100g oat milk
200g cold sparkling water
Pinch of salt
Teaspoon of baking powder
50g lard (or Sunflower Oil)
Step 1: In a bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt. Make a small hole in the centre, place the lard, or sunflower oil, milk, and sparkling water into it. Mix everything together by hand, kneading for a few minutes, then onto the surface continue kneading to form a dough.
Step 2: Put the dough in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to proof for an hour or two.
Step 3: Put the dough on a clean surface and cut it into four parts. Roll out the dough thinly with a rolling pin, one piece at a time. The height is about 2 mm.
Step 4: With a knife or a pastry cutter, give the crescentina the shape you prefer: rectangles or triangles work well if you want to fold them and fill them. If you want, you can also make them round for a side dish.
Step 5: Ensure the oil is to temperature (170 degrees Celsius) and start frying. As soon as the crescentine swell and form bubbles and take colour, they are ready.
Step 6: Lift the crescentine from the oil with tongues and place them in a bowl covered with a cloth to keep them warm.
Step 7: Fill with a soft cheese like ricotta, add your favourite meat such as parma ham, and serve!
Indegno’s first UK restaurant officially opened its doors to the public on Monday, 16 October, and will be open 11:00am-11:00pm Sunday to Thursday, and 11:00am-2:00am Friday to Saturday.