The Italian Connection

farinam's picture

My how time flies, I have been back home from my holiday in Italy for three weeks and haven't reported on my adventures (if you can call them that).

On the bread front, I would have to say that while the breads that we sampled were good, they weren't able to be classified as great (in my humble opinion anyway).  One of the most noticeable things was the salt content.  In the Venezia region, the bread was noticeably salty - I'm not sure what percentage they were using but it was certainly more than the 2ish percent that I am used to.  In Toscano, it was the other way - no salt at all.  I understand that this harks back to the distant past when a tax was introduced on salt so the bakers decided that they would no longer use salt to avoid the tax (nothing new in the world is there?).  The locals decided they liked their bread without salt and so it is today.


There is one other adventure that I will report in another blog.

Keep on bakin'



panfresca 2011 June 29

Back already! Seems just yesterday you were talking about the upcoming trip.

That's really interesting about the salt, and that it has carried over so long. Do the Toscana breads compensate in other ways for the lack of salt, eg sweetness?

Did you have places to try there, or was it just a general bread sampling? I'm thinking that even here in Melbourne which has a good reputation for food generally, and especially bread and coffee, it's unlikely you'll chance into somewhere like Baker D Chirico or St Ali (well, especially St Ali, in its backstreets lane!). Brumbys bread and McCafe are not going to leave you with warm cuddly thoughts on the epicurean qualities of Melbourne... I'm also kicking myself for not trying so many places I now know about in Paris. Why do you always read about these things just after you return!

Please tell more of your travels - I can never get enough.


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 June 29

Hi Kymh,

You are right, I didn't do any prior research for notable practitioners so possibly did not chance upon the stand-outs.  Undoubtedly I will now hear of all the good places I should have visited which will be good for next time.

There was no compensating additives that I could detect to replace the salt, so to my palate at least the Toscana breads were very bland though not unpleasant.  We did have some Vegemite with us so we could at least compensate a bit by adding some spread.

I do have another bread story from Italy that I'll put in my next post.  Don't want to put too much touristy stuff in as it would be a bit off topic.


panfresca 2011 June 30

 ...well for me! 

And I'm sure there were plenty of standout experiences anyway. Really the only way you really get to make a dent on all those insider experiences is to live there. For most places I prefer slow travel... spending as long as possible in one place, though having only 2 or 3 weeks cramps that idea somewhat.


Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2011 June 30

I have just started the Italian section in "Local Breads" and the first bread up was a saltless Tuscan bread.  Not only was it saltless it is also made with a biga (yeasted starter) rather than a sourdough one! In fact all the breads in the Tuscany/Verona section are all made with biga - which is a big disappointment to me.  So far I have just made 2 - Pane Toscano (saltless) and Stirato (Italilian baguettes) - and while the loaves turned out nicely, the flavour didn't exactly rock my socks.  Salt % in the Stirato was 3% although it didn't taste excessive. I thought a lot my "unlove" was the biga vs SD levain.

So it's interesting to hear your comments straight from Italy Farinam.  Maybe it's the yeasted bread vs the SD thing, and obviously the salt content - or lack thereof. 

It would have been so nice trying the bread at source, rather than making it at home.  Very jealous!

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