This months bread is one of the most renowned of all Italian breads. Technically, I’m not allowed to call it Pane di Genzano or bread from the town of Genzano. Apparently, this is the only bread that has been certified to the Italian IGP or” Indicazione Geografica Protetta”. Cheeses or wines are often given this designation, but not bread! IGP is defined as,
“…a certification that a food or agricultural product has been produced within the designated geographical region in a manner consistent with the qualities established by the Italian rating system governed by I.G.P. regulations.”
IGP does not allow a bakery outside Genzano to call their bread Pane di Genzano. So there you go. Being American, I can do whatever the hell I want:)
So, what is the bread like? There are 12 bakeries in Genzano all lying on one 1mile strip. That’s roughly one bakery every 100 yards! All 12 bakeries make a variation on the same bread. It is 4kilos (8.8pounds!!) and sold by the kilo. The bran covered bread is baked in extremely hot wood fired brick ovens to an almost black char. Thanks to the high heat, and long bake it is said to have a crust ¼” thick! The dough itself is sourdough based, Italians call their sourdough Biga Naturale. The bread should have a very mild sourness, but nothing like what we might expect from sourdough bread.
The most traditional of sourdough bread production would be to pull a piece from a previous batch of finished bread dough. This piece then gets incorporated into the next mix after a suitable fermentation. They are using this method, but keeping the Biga Naturale very young and active increasing yeast activity to raise the bread, but not bacteria which would promote sourness. Ideally, this bread should have the keeping characteristics and depth of flavor that a sourdough bread would have, without the tang! Bakers in Genzano claim their bread stays fresh for up to 7 days!
The bread is made in both a 4 kilo round and a long oblong loaf called a Filone. We will be making both shapes, but only 3#. I feel keeping the loaf big will help keep it more traditional. The bread will be available as a full 3 pounder, or a half.
Bakers tip: never waste the crunchy bits of broken off crust and bran after slicing dark breads. They are amazing eaten by the spoonful!
A few pictures from the demo loaf yesterday. Remember, color is flavor!!