Saturday, September 20, 2008


Leaving aside the religious significance of the phrase, “breaking bread”, I have been pondering, tonight, on its origin and upon why some types of bread are so much easier to “break” than others!

There must, I imagine, be a reason why the Mediterranean area has so many types of flat breads, just as there must be a reason why traditional British loaves are shaped as they are. I have , of course, looked up the doyenne, Elizabeth David, in English Bread and Yeast Cookery and what she tells us should be no surprise, ie., that it is all to do with the type of grain grown in the country. Yet I cannot help thinking that another reason for the shape of what most of us woud recognise as “British” bread today goes back to the need to “fuel” ourselves [remember “dripping sandwiches”? – I do!] until at least the 1960s.

Sicily, of course, has the Arab influence to thank for many of its breads to this day: add to this the fact that olive oil was the one ingredient not lacking in the poorest of households and you begin to understand its preponderance as an ingredient in the breads of the region. The tradtional hard bread of Sicily, as I’ve mentioned before, was originally made that way so that the shepherd could put it in his pocket and be away from home for many days, without the bread going “off”.

Anyway, I didn’t make the bread in the photo, but I was very glad to find it – still hot – in the supermarket a couple of hours ago. It is the simplest kind of pane condito – seasoned flat bread – containing, apart from its basic ingredients, just more olive oil, some origano and a goodly quantity of wonderful Sicilian seasalt. It’s so easy to share with friends, each just breaking off the quantity that they want!

This bread is related to sfincione [the name deriving from the Greek for “soft”] and for this bread the filling can be more complicated.

Do not, by the way, imagine that “flat” breads turn out so because there is no yeast: there is usually just as much yeast as in other types of bread, but most flat breads are prodded with a fork before baking so that over-rising is avoided.

Now, why not “break bread” with your best friends tonight?


Dragonstar said...

I adore the smell of fresh bread. I made it myself for many years, but these days I buy what little we use. I can be very greedy when it comes to bread, butter, and cheese - yum!

Crushed said...

I don't know quite why, but of all your mouth watering food posts- it's the bread ones which most have me salivating.

Hot butter on this...

I would imagine different breads served diffrent dietary patterns.

Don't forget in England, time was the nobility ONLY eat Meat..and bread.

So bread was their equivalent of carbohydrates- it had to be filling, as opposed to compact.

They ate it as we do chips ot mash, potato waffles, etc.

I'm not sutre they dide it that way in the meditarranean.

Anonymous said...

I make all my own bread these days for taste, quality and simple economics. A good quality loaf from the shops is c. £1.20 - I can make 3 just as good/better for a bag of flour at 48 pence... and I enjoy baking stuff the most. I also make all my own cakes, biscuits etc,etc. It makes ends meet in a very pleasurable way...

Nunyaa said...

Flat bread smells divine especially when still hot. I'm guessing the flat breads you have your way would be much more tastier than the ones we get to buy mass produced from the bakery. One of those foods you don't need a skill to eat and enjoy, unlike the chopsticks lol .

flutterby said...

I have to ask, what is a "dripping sandwich"?

James Higham said...

I remember the unsoft breads there well. lol

jmb said...

That look wonderful Welshcakes and it is so much easier to go out and buy it after all.

Although it sounds like Mutley disagrees and enjoys making bread which I never did until I got a bread machine but then they all look the same and that's not so great.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, dragonstar. There is not much that is better than bread, butter and good cheese, is there? Thanks for the interesting historical detail , Crushed. Glad you like my "bread" posts! I'mn on my way over to try what I'm sure is your excellent bread, Mutley. Yes, flat breads are so easy to eat, nunyaa and taste divine. Ciao,flutterby. Well dripping is the fat that drips off the English Sunday joint of roast beef as it cooks. It is [or used to be] collected and, once solidified and cooled, used for sandwiches or as the fat for cooking other foods. [Now you are more likely to have to buy it from your butcher if you want to do the latter.] It sounds revolting but there are still foods that taste better for being cooked in some of the stuff.
I'm sure you do, James.
Hi, jmb. I still like making my own bread - the hard way! - though I do use a processor for the mixing.

CherryPie said...

I love fresh bread, it is so tempting to each too much though.

I have a bread machine which is cheating I know, but it does make delicious bread!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, cherrypie. I have the "too much" prob with fresh bread, too!


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