I come from generations of bakers on my Italian side since 1838, so I thought maybe kneading the dough and experiencing the process could get me closer to my roots. The bakery owned by my family also has been credited for the shutting down of a McDonald’s placed in their town of Altamura. On Wednesday we had the opportunity to learn the specifics of bread making at Al Teatro Ristorante in Ascoli Piceno. During the initial demonstration, we were invited to come up and attempt to make the bread ourselves. Four of us volunteered to happily get covered in flour. First during the demonstration, he explained why they use white flour instead of whole wheat. The answer was simple, taste and perfection of recipe. Although I have heard many complaints being here about the lack of whole wheat breads, I would argue that the tradition and perfection of the bread outweighs the necessity for whole grains. Part of living in another culture is immersing yourself in their ways. After being shown how he makes the bread, we were set on our own to do it ourselves. We sifted together two types of flour, added in the other ingredients, and let it rise. He also explained to us that the difference between pizza dough and bread dough is the amount of rises it goes through. Pizza is only risen once, bread is risen once, beaten down, and risen again.
After we had the pleasure of making the bread dough, we were allowed to watch a professional spinning pizza dough and flattening it to the a perfect circle. The ease at which he did it was completely unreal. Then, of course, comes the product of our labor. We left for a little while and came back to pizza fresh out of the oven! Getting to experience the tradition that has been in my family for so long made me realize the simplicity and beauty of baking a good loaf of bread.