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pane sciocco

'tasteless bread'

Tuscan Bread - Out of the oven

Because it has very little salt in it (5g salt rather than the usual 25g) per every kg of flour, central Italy's favourite bread is known as pane sciocco or 'tasteless bread'. The finest is often made with farina buratto and rises very slowly, using a sourdough starter or pasta madre.

In Tuscany, it's commonly known as pane toscana or ordinary bread (pane comune). The pane di Mugello made only with flour from the region north of Florence and baked in a wood fired oven is well known, either as a long oval loaf (filone) or round (bozza). In Umbria, the dense cricket-bat-like pane di Terni is hard to avoid.

Its many aficionados claim pane sciocco's very tastelessness highlights cheeses and charcuterie. It is often served at wine and new olive oil tastings because it doesn't interfere with the other tastes. Stale, it appears in many traditional soups and stews, or even goes into birra di pane, or bread beer.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Image by Rebecca Siegel