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 - the Italian way

Every Dough Takes Its Time

Each to his own, dough.

Closeup of focaccia bread.

Some things take time, and dough is one of them.

Our good friend Kiara, incredible pizza and bread baker, always says, "Ogni impasto ha il suo tempo." - "Every dough has its own time."

Recipes are all good to follow but any bread maker will tell you that much of knowing when your dough is ready, is feeling its ready. Call it instinct or a 'sense' or perhaps purely experience but we like to think dough has personality.

Pasta Madre

There's something all-encompassingly maternal about the sound of 'Mother Dough' - translated from Italian. We call it sourdough or 'the starter' but where's the earthy, primal ring to that?

The basic food of bread has existed through cultures and millennia in varied forms because with grains, water and heat, you can make this staple food.

Sourdough is said to originate in Sweden in 3600BC, unleavened breads go back to the first foods ever cooked and funnily enough, there's a recent tangible shift in Italy to return to basic roots using ancient grains like Kamut or Spelt and natural fermentation processes, like sourdough starters.

The Italians believe 'Pasta Madre' is easier to digest and causes less bloating and conveniently these days, it's found right next to Brewers' Yeast in a powdered form that can be mixed as easily as conventional yeast. All it takes is extra time to prove. No need for a little 'live' culture living as a pet in your fridge, it's become simple in Italy to purchase a variety of flours in the supermarket and bake your own wholesome breads. Even pizzerie offer alternative dough options, some gluten-free and some rather funky with carbon or wholegrains or pumpkin.

Small child making home-made tagliatelle in an Italian kitchen.

Pasta Dough

This can be made adding egg yolks or not - the simplest pasta dough is literally 0 flour, water and salt - kneaded and left to settle in the fridge for half an hour before rolling it out through a pasta-machine or even by hand. It takes a morning to make tagliatelle from scratch.

Pizza Dough

Pizza dough is typically left overnight to cold ferment in the fridge. This gives the pizza a crunchy exterior but light and even interior, it takes a night.

Ricotta and dark chocolate slice

Pasta Frolla

Known as shortcrust dough, the beloved crostata is made simply from this all-purpose sweet dough. Eggs, sugar, flour, butter and a pinch of salt is worked quickly into a smooth mixture that can be filled with jam, custard or fruit and baked for a classic, Italian tart, taking maybe 1 hour.

Ciabatta Dough

Originally takes 2 hours for a watery mixture of yeast and flour to work its magic and then at least another 3 hours before being baked at a high temperature for the characteristic variation in bubble sizes (alveolatura) and crisp exterior.

Layers of focaccia breads

Focaccia Dough

We make this weekly for our deliveries and markets using a traditional recipe from Puglia which incorporates potato for softness and texture. With three proving stages to reach its even fluffiness and up 7 hours, some panifici leave the dough in the fridge overnight for the same reasons as pizza dough. Find ours here.

Panettone Dough

This is the queen of natural levitation with an alleged 60 hour production time! The initial proof is 12 hours long with eggs, sugar and dried fruits added at different stages. It is then baked for an hour and hung upside down to avoid collapsing, read all about Panettone production here.

Panettone on a table

The Slow Food Movement celebrates every food taking its own time - Mangia Mangia belongs to the online Mercia Farmer's Market, part of the Open Food Network where a collection of producers proudly add their wares and respect for things taking time is a pre-requisite.

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