In the mountains of the north of Italy, wheat is as difficult to grow as it is in other European highlands, and breads of other grains have been a staple for centuries past. Rye is the most important, and in those districts that have belonged to the Austrian and German sphere of influence, for instance the Tirol, their baking forms part of the larger Central European tradition.
I first heard about this rye and wheaten bread from Carol Field’s intelligent book about Italian baking, The Italian Baker. It is yeast-based, rather than a sourdough, and uses the gluten of wheat flour to make a lighter loaf. It is made with the Italian yeast starter, biga, which has a particularly good flavour due to its long fermentation time.
© 2005 Tom Jaine. All rights reserved.