Altamura bread is one of the most famous gastronomic products in Puglia. Its fame has very ancient origins. It was even famous in roman times and today the city's ovens make bread following the traditional recipe. Normally it was produced in large pieces. It was kneaded at home and then brought to the public ovens of the city. Its traditional form was called "u sckuanète". To identify one's own lo
Altamura bread is one of the most famous gastronomic products in Puglia. It has very ancient origins. The latin poet Orazio (1st century BC) in a passage from the "Satire" wrote: "best bread in the world, so much so that the diligent traveler brings a supply for the continuation of the journey". But the fame of Altamura bread does not end here. It has continued to grow over the centuries until the present day. In 2003 it was the first flour starch to obtain DOP (protected designation of origin) certification, affirming its excellence in the entire Italian peninsula.
But what is the story?
The history of Altamura bread
The tradition of this bread is linked to the family and peasant sphere. One of its most important characteristics is durability. It was consumed in the fields by farmers and shepherds, often forced to stay away from their home for days. Bread was eaten in the form of soup, seasoned with olive oil and salt. A poor food which has remained one of the cornerstones of local cuisine.
Altamura bread ovens
Still the city of Altamura is dotted with ancient ovens that continue to prepare bread according to the traditional recipe. The oldest bakeries have been baking since 1400!
Normally it was produced in large pieces. It was kneaded at home and then brought to the public ovens of the city. Its traditional form was called "u sckuanète".
To identify their own loaf, and avoid confusing it with other masses cooked in the same oven, women used to stamp bread before baking. The stamps, still sold as souvenirs, carried the initial of the head of the family.
Milling activity (grinding with stone mills) was also concentrated in this area. At the beginning of 1600 in Altamura there were 26 transformation plants in full operation.
Recipe and characteristics of Altamura bread
The recipe for Altamura bread has been the same for generations. The manufacturing process is divided into five phases: kneading, forming, leavening, modeling, cooking in a wood or stone oven.
Even the ingredients have remained unchanged over the centuries: durum wheat flour, mother yeast, salt and water.
It has the apparence of a dark loaf with a straw yellow crumb. It is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Even its characteristics must follow precise indications: weight of the loaf not less than 0.5 kg, rind with a thickness of not less than 3 mm and the humidity must not exceed 33%.
The wood used for cooking can be beech or chestnut.
The wheat comes from the neighboring territories: Gravina di Puglia, Poggiorsini, Minervino Murge and Spinazzola. The semolina is made from the varieties of wheat "appulo", "arcangelo", "simeto" and "duilio". To the dough, active mother yeast has been added for generations and renewed daily, with the addition of sea salt and local water. Each dose is calculated perfectly and each step carried out scrupulously.
Obviously bread is also the basis of numerous typical recipes. Like the "cialledda": stale bread softened with water and seasoned with carousels, onion, salt, oregano and oil.
It is a must, passing through the Alta Murgia, to stop in an ancient bakery in the city and make an abundant supply of Altamura bread. The goodness of this special food has contributed to keeping alive its fame and its tradition that will continue to grow over time.