6 April 2015, Certaldo

When someone tells you that time-travel is just science-fiction, don't believe them. If they tell you that it is impossible to jump back 700 years in time, tell them that you know someone who has actually done it. Time machines exist, and you find them in Italy. I climbed aboard one, and so it is from here that I am writing this, from a medieval village at the top of a hill.
They say that Giovanni Boccaccio was born here: although some claim that it was actually in Florence, the inhabitants of Certaldo have no doubt about the matter, and in fact it is as if he never actually left the place. They speak about him here as if at any moment he might lean out of one of the windows and greet the passers-by. Today I have learnt here that no-one can claim to know bread if they have not been to Tuscany. I have always thought that at least this would not hold any secrets for me. I can say without a shadow of doubt that making bread was one of the first things that I learnt from my father. Long before I learnt to tell the time, or lace my shoes, and much earlier than when I learnt to shave – I learnt to make bread.
Today the bread is a stranger that I am meeting for the first time. In this bread, there is no salt, and so they call it “sciocco” (“the foolish one”). And instead, I am the fool, since I waited so long before coming here to Tuscany. Don't make the same mistake as me, come and join me if you can.
An embrace

Journeys into flour 4 - Tuscany

Tuscan fettunta
First off, prepare the bread a couple of days early: mix 300g of flour with 200ml of water in which at least seven grams of yeast have been melted. Place the mix into a pan, cover it with transparent film and leave it to rise for at least 12 hours.
Next day, melt the remaining yeast in 150ml of water, sift 350g of flour on a pastry board, and pour in the remaining water and the dough that has already risen, cut into pieces. Mix it all together thoroughly again. Now prepare the loaf itself: after folding each block in on itself a few times, pressed down hard with your hands and wrists, form each into an oval or round shape. Take a cloth, cover with a generous layer of flour, and place it around the loaf, closing it with care.
Leave it to rise for at least three hours: make an incision in the top of the loaf, with lateral cuts, or in the shape of a cross, and place it on a floured plate in a pre-heated oven at 220°C for around 10 minutes. Next turn the temperature down to 190°C and leave it to cook for another 40 minutes. When the bread is is ready, remove it from the baking tray and leave it for another ten minutes directly on the grill in the oven, to ensure that it is cooked all the way through to the base.
Next day, cut the loaf into slices, and place them on the grill; leave them to toast on both sides. Coat each slice with garlic, salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil. Serve while still hot. You can add whatever you want to them: basil and tomato; black cabbage, salsiccia, cannellini beans etc .

Recommended for you

type-0/00 Green for direct dough (4-6 hours)

type-0/00 Green for direct dough (4-6 hours)

Suitable for making Tuscan, Pugliese, Sicilian bread and small rolls.
Blogger Katia Montomoli used our Green Bread Line flour to make her cocount mini-pancakes, and described it as "perfect for every use, the end result is guaranteed" (http://blog.giallozafferano.it/katiamontomoli/mini-pancakes-al-cocco/)

Interesting fact

This bread is one of the most typical products of the Tuscany region, characterised by the absence of salt in the list of ingredients. Apparently, this tradition dates back to the 13th century, during a war between the cities of Florence and Pisa, when the forces of Pisa blocked the transport of salt. Its crust is shaded in colour, and crispy, its crumbs are compact, and the bread is crumbly with a light flavour and an unmistakable smell. Tuscan bread is perfect for cooking in wood ovens, and goes well with salame, freshly pressed olive oil, garlic, and seasonal vegetables. It is excellent for preparing “fettunta” or “panunto”: it is the classic form of bruschetta, originally a dish for poor farmers, that developed its place in Italian cuisine as a nutritious snack for those who worked in the fields, or as a toasted bread seasoned with oil, salt and garlic.