The day of making bread actually begins two or three days earlier when the sourdough starter (usually stored in the freezer) is recovered and kneaded again with warm water and, for half its weight, flour. A 200 g loaf therefore requires about 100 g of flour to be kneaded. When this is done, the loaf is left to rise for about 24 hours, after which it can be used to knead new bread.
The new dough starts with the amount of semolina used. If 10 kg of bread is required, 10 kg of semolina is used, to which 1 kg of white flour is added. Salt water (20%) is added to the powder. The bread is then kneaded and the sourdough is added. When everything is uniformly combined, it is left to rest for about 15 minutes. After this short break, the kneading process is resumed by adding a little water at a time to make the dough soft and elastic. There is no exact measurement for the consistency of the dough, only experience can tell when it is ready.
When the kneading is finished, the bread is left to rise for an hour or an hour and a half at the most. Then the pieces are cut into pieces and left to rest on a cotton cloth to separate them from each other. Once again, they are left to rise for about two hours. Halfway through the rising time, the oven is turned on and it takes about an hour to get warm enough.
One of the loaves is kept as a source of sourdough for the next bakery. It is left to rest for two or three days to encourage fermentation and then stored in the freezer.
It is essential to control the temperature of the oven. If it is not hot enough, the bread may not be properly baked, and if it is too hot, it may burn.
Once the right temperature has been reached, the oven floor is wiped clean of the embers with lentisk brooms and the bread can then be baked.
Baking bread is a quick process. Once all the bread has been placed in the oven, the oven opening is closed and the loaves of bread begin to rise in volume. The bread takes about an hour to bake.
As soon as the bread is taken out of the oven, it is covered with a cotton cloth in direct contact and with another cloth, this time made of wool, placed over the first. In this way, the steam will escape from the bread but will not be dispersed into the air, allowing the dough to remain soft and not dry out. The bread can be left to rest until completely cooled or, after an hour or two, can be enjoyed slightly warm.
The procedure for making ‘hard’ bread is practically identical, the only difference being the amount of water, which is less for this type of production. Hard bread has the particularity of being able to be decorated to obtain loaves with various shapes and designs, even very elaborate, on their crust. Shaping is done with knives or scissors.
Bread shaped in this way is usually used for Easter and all festive occasions such as christenings or weddings, folk festivals and special occasions.