• Panzerotti (fried dough pockets) (Paola Bacchia)

Panzerotti are filled thin bread pockets typical of Puglia, the most traditional filling being tomato and mozzarella. Small, deep-fried, addictive!






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One of the best places in the coastal city of Bari to buy panzerotti is il Focacciaro di Pino Ambruoso. I went there in the middle of winter and the shop was filled to bursting point with people, not only trying to get out of the cold as I had thought, but waiting for the next batch of panzerotti to be cooked. 


  • grapeseed, peanut or sunflower oil, for frying 


  • 250 g (9 oz/1⅔ cups) 00 weak (cake) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250 g (9 oz/2 cups) semolina
  • 5 g (¼ oz) instant dried yeast
  • 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) tepid water
  • 3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) tinned chopped tomatoes, well-drained
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 350 g (12½ oz) aged mozzarella or scamorza, diced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time: 1.5 hours

To make the dough, place the flour, semolina and yeast in a large bowl and whisk briefly. Tip the mixture onto a clean work surface and make a well in the centre. Combine the water, oil and milk in a jug, then pour about half into the well. Using a fork or your fingers, start working the dry ingredients into the liquid. Slowly add the remaining liquid and continue bringing the ingredients together until it starts to form a stretchy smooth ball of dough. Sprinkle over the salt and knead the dough for a few more minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draught-free place for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

Break off 40 g (1½ oz) balls of dough and place on a floured baking tray. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and set aside to rise for a further 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the drained chopped tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, dried oregano and a good pinch of salt in a bowl and give it a good stir. 

On a well-floured work surface, roll out one ball of dough at a time to a 13–14 cm (5–5½ in) circle. Place 2 teaspoons of the tomato mixture in the centre and place 2 heaped teaspoons of cheese on top. Fold the dough in half to form a semi-circle, then press the edges firmly together. Pleat the edge of the dough to make a raised scalloped edge. Transfer to a lightly floured surface or some baking paper and cover with a clean tea towel. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. 

Heat 5 cm (2 in) of oil in a heavy-based saucepan (or use a deep fryer) to 180°C (350°F). Test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a cube of bread. If it starts to turn golden in 5 seconds, the oil is ready. Fry the panzerotti 1–2 at a time (depending on the size of your pan), turning once, for about 4 minutes, until golden. They will puff up quite a bit as they fry. Drain on kitchen towel and repeat with the remaining panzerotti. Serve warm. 


This recipe is from Italian Street Food. (Smith Street Books). Photography by Paola Bacchia.