So, it’s easy to make natural bread, (according to the lovely and very knowledgeable Monica Mancini of Fermento Etico), check them out on Facebook!
I have to admit, although I consider myself a passionate and experienced cook, the science of bread has never really been ‘my thing’. I used to make lots of bread and then I started watching a (now) very well known baker on TV and thought I’d try and widen my repertoire. I really don’t know what happened, but the more I tried to follow his, (a clue there) recipes, the more they failed. I bought different sorts of flour, cheaper ones, dearer ones, organic ones, milled close to where I lived ones. Nothing made any difference. All of a sudden, my bread was better at door stopping than providing nutrition. So I stopped for a while.
Since being in Italy I have slowly started baking more and more – with great results. So when I heard about a chance to attend a course on making natural bread with Lievito Madre – natural ‘mother yeast’, similar to a sour dough culture, I jumped at it. The Italians are a gregarious people, but imagine the scene, one teacher, one helper and 16 students. Two Brits, (I was one) and the rest Italian ladies, (and a token man whose wife accompanied him and kept watch from the sidelines). I am not joking when I say that the decibel level was unbelievable. All extremely good natured, but to a non native ear, a simple discussion can sound like a serious argument. My Italian is still extremely primitive and keeping track was impossible at times!
Luckily, Monica, the teacher speaks English and the friend who suggested I attend also speaks Italian pretty well. So I managed to follow along quite well. I am still unsure exactly WHY we did a couple of things, (like mix just the flour and water initially and leave it to stand for 20 minutes – something to do with ‘hydrolysis’ – but beyond that, I have no idea). Still, the proof of the pudding, (or in this case, bread) is in the eating and it did indeed make good eating.
This process of bread making is great if you have time at different stages of the day. Once the dough is mixed, it can easily be left for a day or two in the fridge with no adverse affect. And once shaped and trapped with air, another couple of hours are necessary before baking. The hotter the oven, the better!
I am wondering is I can incorporate this technique into what we’ll be doing at Casa Lucia. I’ll keep you posted.