This is one of my favourite stories my Dad has told me. When he was little, he and his family would go on an excursion every few months in the middle of the night. Not an outing like we would partake in today, this was a trip to the communal bakery. My Nonna Maria prepared the dough in huge wooden barrels. It was left to rise until she’d wake up the whole family at the crack of dawn to take the soon to be bread down the road to be baked. The family horse, with no name, towed the big barrels on a wooden trailer while they walked alongside, showing him the way.
A giant oven was fired up while the dough was knocked back and left to prove. A quick stint in the oven, the rolls would then be cut in half with a wire before being put back in the oven to toast. While they waited, they slept in the corner of the bakery on the hay that was used to light the oven. The smell of freshly baked bread would wake them up and a reward for all their hard work – a fresh friselle for an early colazione.
Their stash would last them around three months, then the process would be repeated.
I got a great sense of satisfaction from making these. The act of kneading itself is always therapeutic, but also the volume of food you create from so little ingredients, you can see why it’s pure cucina povera.
Ingredients Makes 8 -10
500g ’00′ Flour
10g Fresh Yeast
50 ml Olive oil
2 tsp Salt
Method Oven 200C
- Put the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
- Dissolve the yeast in the water and pour into the middle of the bowl.
- Mix in with your hands until it comes together.
- Add the olive oil and knead in the bowl until well combined. If a little dry add a touch more water.
- Knead on a work surface for about 10 minutes until smooth.
- Put back into the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
- Roll the dough out into a big sausage shape and with a dough scraper cut into 8-10 equal sized pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a sausage and make a doughnut shape by joining the two ends together.
- Place on a floured baking tray, cover with oiled cling film and prove for about 20- 30 minutes.
- Put in a pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes until the rolls are still pale but have just started to take on some colour.
- Take out of the oven and lower the heat to 180C. Cut the rolls in half using serrated knife. Put back onto the baking sheet and place into the oven until crisp, approximately 30 minutes.
- Prepare them to eat by drizzling some water onto them and squashing some cherry tomatoes on top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with some oregano and a pinch of salt.