Wheaten bread, or “home-made bread”, made using flour from the durum wheat grown on the slopes of the Aspromonte massif, used to be made and baked every 10-12 days, depending on the size of the public oven and the needs of the family. Part of the bread was biscottato [lit. biscuited, that is, baked twice] in the oven, by leaving it there for a whole night to dry it out and prevent moulding. This way when the family finished its bread, it had “biscuit” to eat while awaiting the next batch of fresh loaves. A raw loaf, scored with a cross (a symbol of the peasant people’s respect and gratitude to the creator), was set aside to make sourdough. The bread was made in the kneading trough resting on a chest [madia]. The dough was left to rise on the bed because there were no other surfaces in the house surfaces large enough to contain over twenty pounds of flour. The bed was covered with sheets made from broom and woven for this very purpose and which were always parts of a bride’s trousseau. The rituals associated with break making were precise in every detail, and each member of the family had a task to perform, however small. During the days prior to making the bread the man of the house used to bring home bundles of kindling, wood which should never be resinous lest it leave an unpleasant smell in the oven. The kinds of wood chosen were mainly olive, oak, holm and thorny broom which gave the bread a distinctive aroma. The man prepared the oven and brought it to the right temperature, while the woman baked. During this work a frugal lunch of newly naked, over-warm bread, dressed with olive oil, oregano and a pinch of red pepper was provided. In winter, the bread might also be dressed with curcuci (crackling), while in summer it was often accompanied by roasted bell peppers. For each child a cudduredda was cooked. This was a doughnut made from the remains of the flour in the madia [flour chest] to which oil and sugar were added. Children were given this treat, piping hot, on a stick through the hole in the doughnut and, as it cooled, they often played with it pretending to spin the wheel of a bicycle.
Bread-making was a time of sharing with neighbours who were given some warm bread, a simple act of closeness between people typical of the Greek community of Calabria.
Those who lived in a village rather than in the country brought their bread to the public oven which obviously baked different people’s breads together. To distinguish one lot from another, each batch bore a particular mark stamped on it by a piece of carved wood.
Ingredients: 1 kilo of flour 1 pinch of sale, water, 10 grams of brewer’s yeast or sour dough.
Dissolve the yeast or sour dough in a littlewarm water and do the same, separately, with the salt. Add these two ingredients separately to the durum flour and knead the dough until it is smooth and soft. Make two to three round or doughnut-like loaves (pane a cuddhura) and leave them to rise in a warm place for about two hours. Bake them in a pre-heated (230°C) oven for about 1 hour.
Pani ‘i giuggiulena [Bread with sesame seed]
This is a type of bread aromatised with sesame seeds. Like wheaten bread, this kind, flavoured with sesame, used sour dough, left from the previous bread-making session, and was kneaded on top of the maiddha [madia, bread chest], a wooden trough built specially by the carpenter for bread making. The sesame seeds were not put into the dough but sprinkled on top of the bread before it was put into the oven to bake
Ingredients and preparation: identical to those for durum-flour wheaten bread.
This is simply home-made bread aromatised with sesame seed.
Lestopitta [Pitta bread]
Lestopitta [pitta bread] or thin pitta (from the Greek λεπτός meaning thin) is a kind of bread that bears a certain resemblance to the unleavened bread of the Jews, seeing that there is no yeast used in it either. It is made from flour and water only and baked before it can rise in any way. Having been fried in olive oil it appears as a flat, thin crunchy disc that tastes of fried oil. It was once eaten during work in the fields to accompany a glass of wine; today we use it stuffed with capicollo, cheese, grilled vegetables, etc. as a quick meal. It is used also served plain with hors d’oeuvres or in a smaller form with aperitifs.
Ingredients: 500 grams of flour, water, olive oil to fry it and salt to season it.
Make a mound of the flour on a pastry board, add the water and knead the dough until it is pliable and soft. At this point divide the dough into 5 balls. Then roll out each ball with a rolling pin making it into a disc with a diameter of about 20 centimetres. Heat the oil and fry the discs until both sides are golden. Add a sprinkling of salt while they are still warm