Ciabatta BreadItalian Breads

Ciabatta is a delightfully different, and well-known creature altogether. Truly an Italian Bread, Ciabatta is shaped similar to a traditional loaf of bread. It is filled with several holes and is the perfect tool for dipping in flavored olive oil. Since it is made all over Italy, the recipe can vary by region. In Tuscany, the crust is crunchy and the inside is chewy. When made in Biga, near Lake Cuomo, the interior is fluffy and soft, with a chewier crust.

Breadsticks are a typical house specialty, no matter where you visit in Italy. There are a multitude of different recipes for breadsticks, as every region and chef has a favorite style. The most common recipes all begin with a typical breadstick dough, brushed with egg and baked at 375F/190C for about 15 minutes. You can add your own toppings, anything from fresh herbs and spices to shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese.

Focaccia is perhaps the best known Italian bread, and for good reason. Anyone who tries this chewy, spiced bread can agree that there is no comparison. Seasoned with olive oil, basil and oregano, it is simply delicious.

From Romagna comes a wonderful flat bread called Piadina. A cross between a tortilla and a Middle Eastern pan bread, delicious side dish. Lard, hot water, and unbleached flour are mixed together and flattened with a rolling pin. The dough is then cut and fried in a skillet until light brown. It’s ready to eat after about three or four minutes.

If you are looking for a true Italian dessert bread, however, sink your teeth into a Panini Dolci alla Cannella. A type of cinnamon roll, this fluffy doughy goodness will have you begging for more. Potato flakes are often added to give them a more airy quality. Try adding some chopped nuts, for a crunchy surprise; towards the end of the baking cycle, don’t forget to sprinkle the Cannella with a hefty blend of cinnamon and sugar.

For those looking for bite-sized breads, try a croissant-style Cornetti. The dough is flattend, cut into triangles, then brushed with egg or butter and rolled up. For a dessert-like treat, add a bit of cinnamon and sugar. It can turn this plain, everyday bread into a delightful pastry. Bake the Cornetti at 350F/175C for about 20 minutes, then devour with delight.

Focaccia’s preparation is much like its cousin, the universal pizza crust. However, this flat bread is taken to a whole new dimension. It is rolled out, pressed by hand and then baked in a stone oven. The baker usually slices the top of the bread during the baking process, removing bubbles and allowing for the addition of spices and oil. The contribution of spices and olive oil helps to preserve interior moisture.

While best known for pasta dishes, the Italians bring many other amazing foods to the culinary table. One masterpiece that should never be overlooked, by those seeking great taste, are Italian breads. Bread is one of the most essential and available foods around, dating back to ancient times. Nowhere has bread been more thoroughly adapted into daily cuisine than the sun-drenched land of Italy.


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