i-ItalyNY - 2014-06 - page 35

June-July 2014
by Dino Borri
The art of breadmaking
may have been born in Egypt
and later reached Greece and
Rome, where people depended
on the cultivation of grains
for nourishment. The Roman
national dish was polenta
On Bread Alone...
Dining In
Taking Italy toYour FamilyTable
made with farro, a coarse
grain. Near Porta Maggiore
in Rome, there still stands
an ancient monument built
to commemorate bakers,
with a tower of three large
cylinders where people used
to leave their bread to rise. The
cylinders are stacked vertically
and horizontally on top of
one another, and above them
a fresco depicts the various
treatments a grain undergoes
to become bread. The Romans
cooked their bread in public
ovens as well as private ones,
like those found in the houses
of Pompeii, and the first bakery
was opened in Rome in 15
BC.But it was in medieval
times that bread took on a
prominent status due to its
central role in the Christian
sacrament. Since then it has
been a staple on every table in
Italy. But what kinds of bread
do we eat and how do we go
about making them?
Most people today eat
industrial bread that is
treated with additives and
preservatives to withstand
the processes of freezing
and packaging for large-
scale distribution. Fresh
artisanal bread is mainly
made with local flour without
additives. Considering the
time and work that goes into
making artisanal bread, it’s
clearly more expensive than
industrial bread. But artisanal
bread is more natural and
better quality. For example,
it’s more easily digested
and smells better. In fact,
According to the Italian
Federation of Bakers, or
FIPPA, 75% of bread consumed
in Italy is artisanal bread.
FIPPA has created a set of
regulations for labeling real
artisanal bread. The quality
seal called “Bollino Bianco”
guarantees that a particular
kind of bread has been “made
in a continuous process
without interruptions to
freeze, deep-freeze or prolong
the shelf-life of primary
ingredients for baked goods.”
Do it yourself, but...
You can certainly try baking
your own bread at home,
given the basic ingredients
involved (flour, yeast, water
and salt), but there are a few
things to keep in mind if you
want to make real “Italian”
The main ingredient in bread
is flour. Flour is made with
kernels of wheat or ground
grain. The most widely
available grain, flour is mostly
cultivated in the central
and northern regions of
Italy, where it is categorized
according to how finely the
flour has been ground. “00”
flour is the finest ground
white flour (similar to all-
purpose or pastry flour in
America) with no bran. “1”
flour and “2” flour contain
increasing amounts of bran.
Remember, however, that the
lack or near-lack of impurities
in flour means that the grain
is depleted of main nutrients.
It might seem strange, but the
most important ingredient
A few things to keep in mind
if you want to make real
“Italian” bread at home.
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