Traditional Tuscan cuisine and food: the Tuscan bread

March 28, 2014  |  Food & Wine

Tuscan bread and cakes for breakfast at Villa le Barone

Tuscan bread, made without salt, is widely used in traditional Tuscan cuisine, either to accompany food or as an ingredient to prepare authentic Tuscan dishes. Enjoy the food at Villa Barone in Panzano in Chianti!

Bread is a staple food that can be found in the history of all peoples, with diverse shapes, flavors and often  prepared in ways that have hardly changed over the centuries. All generations have followed the same simple techniques to prepare the bread: water, flour, yeast and, until recently, strong hands to knead. But bakery is not as simple as it sounds, this is an art and the taste of bread varies widely from one place to another!

Various texts since antiquity, tell us how wheat production was organized, how  it was transformed into flour as well as the baking system used. Tuscan bread distinguishes itself from bread of other Italian regions because it is prepared without salt. It is said that around year 1100, the salt trade was interrupted due to a war between Pisa and Florence, resulting in a very high price for salt. As a result, Florentines began to make bread without salt, gradually getting used to the taste called “sciocco” (“without salt” but “sciocco” also means dumb, goofy, dolt, …)  and what was to be only temporary has become a tradition.

A tuscan Bakery with Tuscan bread près de Villa le Barone

Formerly, bread was done once or twice a week in the wood heated oven of the farm (the Fattoria) and prepared with locally produced flour (whole meal flour). The bread coming out of the oven was exquisite, with a delightful smell and a color which was not really white, but gray. This bread is easily kept a week. This bread was prepared in a dough trough called “media”, a piece of furniture which you can still see in countryside kitchens, but which has lost its former use. It was there that dough was kneaded. When the dough had risen, breads, between 500 grams and 1 kg, were placed on a prepared canvas, the fabric making a fold between each loaf. A cross on each loaf (religious blessing and help for the yeast!) and then they were left to leaven again. Meanwhile, a big fire was lit in the oven and when the flames were extinguished, the embers were placed on the side and most of the ash was removed. Before baking the bread itself, other products prepared with the left over dough were put in the oven, such as the ” schiacciata ” seasoned with salt and olive oil (we’ll talk about in another article!). After the bread was put in the oven and afterwards, while the oven cooled, came the time for the cakes to be baked! Delicious!  And when the bread became stale, of course, it was not lost, but was used to prepare exquisite dishes: Ribollita, panzanella, aqua cotta, pappa al pomodoro, fettunta, black cabbage soup…

In Villa le Barone’s ” Fattoria ” you can still see the  old oven where the bread was produced as part of the traditional Tuscan cuisine. Now it is no longer used, but we get it from a neighboring baker in Panzano in Chianti who produces delicious bread. And our Tuscan cooks prepare all dishes mentioned above for the authentic Tuscan cuisine that we serve in our historic hotel!

Of course, in addition to traditional Tuscan bread, there are many other types of bread, different either in shape or by the ingredients used. You will be able to taste them in our hotel.

Discover traditional Tuscan cuisine and food, taste Tuscan bread in the historic charming hotel Villa le Barone! Book our special offer “Enjoy wines and Tuscan Gastronomy”: you will reallyenjoy it!


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