Pleasant smell of freshly baked bread, loved bread conquering the taste. The prohibition of baking any kind of bread or pies in people's houses, on pain of paying considerable fines, ruled a restriction system destined to remain till a few years ago. An essentially family productive process was under a rigorous public control that had to be very important since the beginning in fact the chapter about the oven tax was the first in the progressive order among the municipal articles and the toll extent corresponded to one third of the total cost of the bread-making. The first phase of working took place at home where women prepared the dough in the kneading trough, mixing yeast with flour, water and salt skilfully. When rising and kneading were completed, the processing went on in the public ovens where the loaves of leavened bread, wrapped into woollen and/or cotton clothes, were taken on boards.
Bakers completed the kneading of the dough giving it the typical final shape: a truncated cone with a cut in the middle, before marking with the owner's initials and baking it.
In recent times this operation was made by using iron marks kept at the oven, while in the distant past they were produced by the farmers and the shepherds whose ability in carving wood allowed a conspicuous production of utensils: from ladles to the bread marks. They were kept at home, among the personal things, often in the mistress' linen, and traditionally they were left to the sons. The bread marks, with their patterns full of symbolic references, generally recall an agro-pastoral culture in which the holy gesture of making bread has its origins in countryside of Laterza: an articulated land with its ravines, cradle of rupestral civilization.
Bread was the barycentre of a solid peasant culture when it marked days and seasons. It was the reward for the men and propitiatory gift on the Saints' days. It is tasty, not insipid. Externally crisp, soft inside, it can be conserved for more than three days. It is not a dream, it really exists and it is the Laterza Bread, in the local dialect “I panedd'“. It is baked in wood-burning ovens according to the old tradition of Laterza. Its peculiarity is that it can keep its friability and softness, the particular taste of its soft part and the golden brown crust given by the baking in wood-burning ovens and the working, the preservation and the seasoning: they start from the day before with the making of the yeast, the day after the durum wheat semolina is kneaded with yeast, water and salt.
The dough must be worked slowly but vigorously, then it rises for two hours and a half on wooden tables. Then it is weighed and divided into round pieces of
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Fonte: Gusto di Puglia n.6