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December 13


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A loaf of fresh bread

Posted by Suzanne on 06 Jun 2014

While Polizzi Generosa still sleeps the modern stone wood fired oven at La Sorgente del Pane, a small bakery up off the main street in Piazza Udienza, is fired with dry pieces of olive and citrus wood collected from the pruning of trees just outside the village.

At roughly 4.30am the small cob shaped rounds of soft, elastic like dough laid out the night before and covered on long wooden trays have risen perfectly. The living mother yeast; a guarded ingredient handed down from the baker, Giovanni’s maternal line, and local flours from mills 30 minutes away have produced dozens of loaves ready for baking. The undulating wheat fields around Polizzi have been productive since antiquity and when Giovanni talks of the “metodo antico” he uses; no beer yeast just the living mother yeast, a wood fired oven and local flour, his smile broadens.

A couple of hours after he has first fed the fire Giovanni opens one of the four doors of the huge oven and with the long wooden handled paddle he pulls out the first of dozens of oval shaped loaves of warm golden bread.  As he dusts off the excess flour and the bread is stacked on the wooden racks behind the bakery’s counter the first customers are greeted with “buongiorno” from Giovanni’s vibrant wife, Angela. The smell of baked bread fills the shop and it is fresh, clean and warm.

Giovanni checks the temperature gauge often and just after 7am he climbs the few narrow steps at the side of the oven and with gloved hands tosses in more pruned wood. The temperature is maintained with ease in this vaulted oven with a 200 mm thick stone base and vault. Once the temperature has reached 240 degrees Giovanni closes the flue.

As he opens the middle oven door to check the next batch the pile of glowing coals sitting at the back of the oven’s long depth can be seen and beads of perspiration sit on Giovanni’s reddened forehead. He bakes dozens of loaves.

I farewell both Giovanni and Angela and leave La Sorgente with a 500g loaf of some of the best bread in the Madonie Mountains. It is still warm in the brown paper packet and it will be perfect with some local jam and coffee for breakfast.




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