Basilicata: Pane di Matera
There are few greater joys in life than sinking your teeth into a big old wad of carbs. Aside from the gluten intolerant, who doesn’t love bread?
From a Warburton's white slice, to the worthier whole grain, to a more metropolitan ciabatta, we love the stuff. Yet, whilst these are all perfectly serviceable loaves, I would venture that nothing compares to the bread from Basilicata.
Continuing my #carbsarelovely campaign, here’s a quick guide to this lovely loaf:
Pane di Matera is special. The perfect loaf is conical in shape, with a thick brown crust and a soft, salty interior. Yeast must make up at least 20% of the formation and the entire loaf must weigh at least one kilogramme but not more than two. These aren’t my rules, Pane di Matera is IGP protected.
The bread originated in the Kingdom of Naples sometime during the 15th Century, though it was in Matera that ancient processes were refined. In the Sassi cave dwellings of Matera, without much money or space, peasants would traditionally prepare dishes communally. Housewives would prepare the dough the night before, leaven it in the morning and hand it over to the local baker, who would bake it all at the same time in his forno. To distinguish their loaves, each family would stamp the bread, a practice which is still in place today.
This is the kind of loaf which works with everything; perfect for sweet jams in the morning, perfect doused in olive oil and a perfect vestibule for scooping up leftover ragu. In fact, I’d say it would even be perfect slathered in a big wodge of butter and a slither of marmite.
Dense and intense. A must-try for anyone visiting Basilicata.