Tuscan BREAD

Tuscan BREAD

Artisan Bread Course Tuscany

11–16 February 2024
I joined a course in Tuscany run by Sapori & Saperi to explore artisan Tuscan bread, learning about processes, techniques, recipes and traditions. From sourdough bread with potato to using the cotte or testi, steel/ iron griddles which heat up to cook tortilla type flat bread.
The location of the bakeries in the hills and mountains of northern Tuscany are key to the bread we made, revealing traditional recipes, techniques and using local produce, such as heritage grains, herbs and vegetables.
The hospitality that everyone showed us was amazing - abundance of home made food and local wine between bread making sessions. I learnt so much from these extraordinary bakers.
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Day 1
Introduction to Theory with Erica Jarman in Bagni di Lucca.
Headed to family bakery Pane del Gonzo where baker Stefano Bechelli showed us how to make focaccia, ciabatta and panini. He works with only one other person through the night to get his bread out to all the local towns and villages the next morning.
He uses some modern technology such as a spiral mixer and oven loader to help with production, but there is still a lot of hands-on.
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Day 2
We first visited Carlo Galvani, he is now 86 years old. His family have been blacksmiths for 500 years. We watch Carlo forge a pair of testi (cotte), iron griddles for cooking the flatbreads.
We then go to biodynamic vineyard Fattoria Sardi. This is where Domino Donati has his restaurant Fuoco e Materia (Fire and Food). He specializes in sourdough bread which tastes amazing. He teaches us about heritage wheat and we learn kneading techniques plus so much more....
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Day 3
More sourdough with Domino Donati. He shows us how to start our sourdough starter - madre - feeding it...
We bake the bread we made yesterday that has been slowly proving in the fridge overnight.
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Day 4
Fogaccia leva is produced almost exclusivly in the area of Gallicano. Cesare and Giulio teach us how to use the testi (cotte) to make round flat bread and chestnuts flour pancakes (necci) between the hot iron testi.
We make a bean and sausage stew to accompany our flatbreads - a very typical Tuscan dish.
We then visit Mulino di Piezza, where miller Marco shows us the craft of milling flour. The mill was built in 1736. Sadly due to flooding he has had to switch to electricity to run his mill.
In the late afternoon we visit the small hill top village of Cascio to make crisciolette, a tortilla-type flatbread baked between testi which we also add pancetta.
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Day 5
We head off to Petrognola to make potato bread with Paolo Magazzini. He is a one man baker who also runs a farm and shop with the rest of his family.
We learn to make traditional Garfagnana potato bread. While the bread is rising Paolo shows us the milling process and wheat polishing.
We then return to the bakery to light the wood oven, and once the oven is hot the bread goes in for an hour baking. We go see Paolo's cows, to return to the bakery to take the bread out of the oven.
Paolo's wife cooks us a wonderful meal - bean soup, chestnut pasta and pork.
Paolo has such a positive attitude to life. The view from his bakery across to the snow capped mountains - what isn't there not to love!!
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