Aquilano Bread

 

 

What it is

The homemade aquilano bread (or “Pane Casereccio Aquilano”) is produced within the territory of L’Aquila’s province, in Abruzzo. Historically, also because of the fact that that is a mountainous part of the italian peninsula, there was scarcity of bakeries (or “forni” – ovens – in italian) and bread baking (just so the importance of bread in Italy is understood) was taxed in past times (a tax called “Focatico”). To these difficulties, the ingenious inhabitants of those rural areas responded with the creation of a homemade bread which can resist prolonged storage: this would naturally avoid the need of too frequent bread baking. Still today, thanks to its peculiar preparation and rising method, the homemade aquilano bread can naturally maintain its fragrance for up to 10 days!

This bread has a typical elongated shape, with a (light to dark) brown crust about 3-4 millimeters thick. The aquilano bread is crispy and with the typical fragrance of roasted cereal. The crumb is homogeneous and uniform with small air bubbles (“occhiatura” in italian), with a characteristic light brown color, a yummy and penetrating fragrance. Very typical of this bread is naturally its taste, particularly sapid.

 

How Aquilano Bread is done

The peculiarity of this bread is its rising process. The long rising with sourdough (also “lievito madre” in italian, or “mother-yeast”) ensures that its conservation period can be very long, and makes it very resistant to environmental conditions. As you shall by now know, having at least glanced through this site, the fundamental ingredients of bread are water, yeast, flour, salt. Isn’t that simple ? It might be (to me, it mostly resembles an art), but the proper composition of those elements requires undoubtedly skills. The aquilano bread is not only peculiar for its rising process, the wheat flour used is also very specific: I am talking about the wheat “solina”. The “solina” is cultivated in the territory of L’Aquila and historically produced in the Gran Sasso region.

The production of this durum wheat specialty has been, over the centuries, almost abandoned because of its low yield per acre, as compared to other varieties. Cultivation of this “solina” wheat never ceased, though, but its production remains of lower volumes, even if now being supported by national associations. This, as you might expect, influences the cost of the ingredients, making the aquilano bread somewhat more expensive. Hey, we are not talking about jewelry here (even though bread is to me more precious than any stone), but this affects the decisions of who has to make and sell the bread. Quality is then the main word here. Try the homemade aquilano bread and prepare yourself to be (once more!) surprised by the richness and character of this historically “poor” bread.