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Gambatesa's Daily Bakery Bread
The loaf measures about 25 cm. (10 inches) across by 9 cm. (3 ½ inches) high, and weighs about 2 kg (4 ½ lb). The Gambatesans just call this bread u pan' ("bread"), not by a special name. It is the same bread as is made in the villages around Gambatesa. Maybe this type of loaf is called a pagnott' du pann' or panéll.
People in Gambatesa buy this bread to last for two or three days. On the first day the bread is soft. The bread is sliced in a special way and half-slices may be served to guests as a snack with cheese and sausages and wine.
The bread's crumb (a mollig', in Italian la mollica) is decidedly yellowish, as the crust is decidedly brown. The texture of a slice of this bread is very open.
On the bread bag, the baker tips his hat and says arrivederci ("Until next time!" or "Be seeing you!").
When the crumb of the bread is yellow, it is because amido ("starch") has been added to the flour. "You can ask when you buy the flour if you want without starch or with starch; without this added starch the mollica is very white." Bread is more expensive when this starch is added, but people like it because "the bread stays moist longer, and it is more substantial and healthier".
The "starch" added to common wheat flour to make Gambatesa's bread is semola ("semolina"), the coarse endosperm of durum wheat flour (in which there is of course also protein); this is the same durum semolina from which macaroni is made. The bread flour is mixed by the distributor (which may be the miller himself), but the proportion of common wheat to durum wheat differs from bakery to bakery and is kept a secret. In Gambatesa the variety of grano duro (literally "hard wheat", but in Italian this expression means "durum wheat", although there is also hard common wheat) has long dark awns (bristles) and its endosperm (the starch of the wheat berry) is only a bit yellowish. And the macaroni made from this variety is not very yellow.
This bread of Gambatesa is unlike the Italian bakery-bread that Giovanni Valente used to make in America to which no durum semolina was added; it was made from common wheat flour only.
Everyday Bread - Pane comune
Gambatesan bread when made using only common white flour typically has the following proportions [Note: proportions are determined by many local factors, but this is a basic recipe]:
- 1.7 kilogram -- 3 pounds, 12 ounces -- of common white wheat flour.
- 1 liter -- 34 [U.S. fluid] ounces -- of water.
- 35-37 grams -- 1 and 1/5 to 1 and 1/3 ounces -- of [sea] salt.
- 14-15 grams -- a tad less to a tad more than 1 and 1/2 ounces -- of [fresh] yeast (lievito di birra) in summer. 17-18 grams -- a larger tad more than 1 and 1/2 ounces -- in winter (when cold slows the activity of yeast).
Photographs by Angelo Abiuso, 19 July 2007.
The URL of this Web page: http://www.roangelo.net/valente/gbpane.html
Last revised: 2 January 2008 : 2008-01-02 by Robert Wesley Angelo
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