BeanScene Magazine

Bread making: Neapolitan born and ‘bread’

From the February 2017 issue.
Bread making: Neapolitan born and ‘bread’

Having made bread since he was a child, World Pizza Champion, Andrea Cozzolino, shares the secrets of a traditional peasant-style bread called ‘pane cafone’, which is native to his homeland.

With a grandmother who was a baker, I’d spend whole days watching her make bread entirely by hand. In those days, there wasn’t the same technology available today. She would knead the dough in a large wooden tub called a mandria. She added the flour, then the yeast and water, and finally the salt; and would knead the dough for about 25 minutes.

One day I asked her the name of this special bread that she churned out every day. It was pane cafone – a Neapolitan style of peasant bread that is particularly fragrant and tasty, and easy to digest.

In Naples, in the Health District or Spanish Quarter, they once spoke a different language called Cafone, which represents the authentic Neapolitan soul.

Simple and modest, pane cafone retraces the history of Naples and is one of the many important symbols of Neapolitan cuisine.

Even in Australia, there are some restaurants making this particular type of elongated, rustic bread. At my restaurant, Zero95, we make it every morning.

Pane cafone has an elastic and soft centre, with a thick, dark and crisp crust. It keeps for three to five days.

My recipe is about the flavours of my homeland, including Caputo flour, which is made in Naples. It is best to prepare the dough the day before, allowing it to rise overnight and then cooking it in the morning.

1kg good quality flour (I use the red bag of Caputo flour, known as Rinforzato, as it is gluten-rich and suits long rising, resulting in a flavoursome, full-bodied dough)
700ml water (not too cold)
2g fresh yeast
30g salt
30g biga or natural starter such as Caputo Criscito

Dissolve the salt in the water. Add half the flour, then the starter and yeast. Using your hands, mix well, slowly adding the remaining flour, until it starts to come together. Work the dough on a lightly floured surface, kneading until smooth and springy. Set aside to rest for at least three hours as it needs to double in size.
Place the dough on a well-floured surface and fold the dough to strengthen it so the yeast will grow. Using your hands, elongate the dough into a rectangular shape, then turn it over the first side towards the centre and do the same with the other side, overlapping it. Turn the dough, stretch it a little and redo the folds as before, folding the ends to the middle. Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes. Make the folds again and leave to stand for another 15-20 minutes.
Divide the dough in half to make two loaves, then bake for 25 minutes at 220°C.

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