A bit of history of bread in Sardinia
Bread in antiquity, throughout the Mediterranean, was mainly round in shape, as a symbol of the sun and emblem of fertility. And still today, in Sardinia, this ritual continues to be perpetuated. To wish the success of the bread, moreover, it was the custom to trace a sign of the cross on the dough during leavening and, in the following phases, to recite propitiatory ritual formulas.
Even in Sardinian culture bread was not only a food, but took on a very important symbolic meaning. The diversity of types of bread consisted not only of the ingredients, but also of the ceremonies for which it was prepared.
The domestic bakery was a purely female activity that involved the participation of all the women of the house. The women were busy throughout the baking cycle: from the washing and milling of the cereals to their sieving, continuing with the dough and cooking. The bread was obtained through the processing of wheat flour according to tradition, made possible by the presence in the houses of the wood-fired oven which allowed it to be cooked.
Bread in Sardinia differed from country to country, as well as from the social position: wheat for the wealthy classes, while the poor people used barley in Barbagia, meliga in Campidano and, when crops were scarce, acorns in Ogliastra. In the ancient Sardinian tradition generally the rich people used a daily bread obtained with durum wheat flour, while to the less well-off was destined a type of long-lasting bread with bran, barley flour or acorn ground. The fishermen used the softened biscuits in sea water or fish broth. The barley bread, nutritious but second choice, generally the wealthy women prepared it for the servants, for the shepherds and the peasants. This type of bread, which was less expensive, had the advantage of being kept for months.
Daily bread in Sardinia takes on different preparations. Daily breads can be classified into soft bread and hard bread. The first ones have the characteristic of being very soft, with the porous crumb, among these there are the Moddizzosu and the Civraxu. Bread Russu and Coccoi belong to the second type: bread with a harder crust and compact crumb.
Another classification, based not on processing but on the morphology of the bread, subdivides them into large loaves and thin loaves. To these belongs the Carasau, which in some areas of Sardinia takes the name Spianata or pane d’Ozieri: oval or round, crispy and thin, without breadcrumbs. The more affluent prepared this bread with semolina and durum wheat flour, of excellent quality. The middle class obtained it with bran, while the shepherds with barley flour: it was the bread they ate during the long periods of transhumance.
The large bread has different techniques, decorations and shapes, as is the denomination according to the areas of the island. Next to these types of bread there is then the seasoned one, obtained with the addition of olives, tomatoes, ricotta, onions, whose ingredients purchased according to the season of the year.
These are the most popular breads in Sardinia
Going around Sardinia we can, therefore, see how bread has different shapes and consistances. In Orgosolo, for example, we can taste the typical fragrant carasau bread. Originally from Barbagia, the carasau is a unleavened bread made from kneaded durum wheat whose thin sheet is pulled. Today yeast is also used, which as soon as it is baked it swells. It is baked and the two sheets are separated, bake again to reach crunchiness (“carasare”), but also excellent preservation capacity. The basic ingredients are yeast, salt, water and flour. Historically, two types of dough are mentioned, one based on durum wheat flour widespread in particular among the well-off classes, the other based on barley flour or bran present above all on the tables of the lower-middle classes. Special features: also known as the music paper, due to its characteristic subtlety. The name derives from the preparation method that involves a “carasatura” phase, that is to say a firing to make it crunchy. The carasau bread can be seasoned with oil and salt and served after a short passage on the grill (bread “guttiau”). Another typical preparation is the “frattau” bread. In this case the bread is dipped for a very short time in boiling salted water, to then be placed on the plate composing layers with sauce and pecorino cheese.
In Dorgali it is possible to taste the s’orzatu, the barley bread. It is a bread that is possible to kept for several months and is prepared with products derived from barley grinding.
In Thiesi we find the bread su cabude. The dough is made from durum wheat semolina, sourdough and lard. It goes wonderfully with fresh and aged pecorino cheese. It is a ritual bread that was prepared by the families of the shepherds who did it on New Year’s Eve and by the peasant ones who did it at Epiphany. Su cabude took on large and small shapes depending on the age of the family members. In the past the great bread of the head of the family was broken, for propitiatory purposes, on the head of the smallest son.
In Sassari people eat lu cozzulu, fragrant bread made from semolina flour, cracklings, walnuts and almonds. Delicious freshly baked and served warm as a dessert or for breakfast.
Su zichi ladu
In Pozzomaggiore you can taste su zichi ladu, wonderful and tasty bread to eat with seasoned pecorino cheese or cooked in broth or water and salt and then seasoned with lamb sauce.
Pani de saba
In the vicinity of Cagliari, in Quartu Sant’Elena, an excellent pani de saba is prepared. It is a sweet bread, linked to the most ancient Easter traditions. It is made from a mixture of durum wheat flour with sapa of must. Everything must be worked for a long time in order to obtain a complete malagama, taking care to add whole eggs, cinnamon and carnation essence, chopped walnuts and pine nuts. The dough thus obtained is left to rest for a few hours, then it is made in loaves that are then covered, placed away from the cold and kept for two days to rise in a basket. When leavening is complete, the loaves are baked in the oven at medium temperature. It is a bread that for the preparation and leavening needs also for several days.
The bread in Ozieri is prepared with circular dough, thin and of soft consistency, called fine bread or pane modde.
In Banari you can taste the sos bullettes. Bread made from the dough of sourdough, fine semolina, water and salt. it is a soft and elastic bread, with a round shape that perfectly accompanies the grilled pork.
The Gallura deserves a visit to taste the bread buttidu. it is a leavened wheat bread that can take different forms. After the last leavening phase the dough is baked. As soon as it is taken out of the oven, the bread is dipped in boiling water, for a moment and then it reinforces itself in a pan sprinkled with coarse semolina. It goes very well with mixed appetizers of cheese and salami.
The Civraxiu, originally from the Medio Campidano area of Cagliari, is the daily bread used by everyone and produced everywhere, cooked in a traditional oven and heated with a wood fire. It is a milled durum wheat flour and it is a soft and soft bread with a round shape. It was consumed above all by those who worked in the countryside, since it was considered the bread of the poor and because of its dark color it was also called black bread (pani nieddu) from the color of dark flour.
Coccoi a pitzus
Coccoi a pitzus bread is a decorated bread made with durum wheat flour. It was the feast bread, which in the past was prepared for large anniversaries, weddings (coccoi de is sposus) and Easter (coccoi cun s’ou). It is packaged with semolina and cooked in a traditional dome oven. This type of bread was distinguished by the many forms in which it was packaged. The shape is overall round, around 35-40 cm in diameter, 6-7 cm thick, with a hole in the center of about 20-25 cm, or in a semicircle; the crust is crisp and golden in color, the crumb is compact and white. It is characterized by the typical decorations consisting of triangles made along the entire lower perimeter of the bread, and by further protrusions (pitzus) obtained on the upper part of the bread.
There are several reasons that deserve a visit to Ittiri, but one of the most important is to taste “su cola-cola”. Made with a mixture of sourdough and very fine semolina, bran, water and salt, this bread has the shape of a focaccia and is soft and spongy. It is excellent toasted in the fireplace to accompany a succulent roast sausage.
Even in Olmedo bread plays a fundamental role. Let us remember for example the “sa covazza”, soft focaccia; “Su pane oltadu in telu”, with a elongated shape, made to leaven on special sheets that cover the breads, it has a long-lasting.
Su pane coccu
The su pane coccu, bread of frumentono fermented in the shape of focaccia; it was packaged by the shepherds on their return from transhumance and used for guests and holidays. It was cooked on the hot hearth by covering the foccaccia with ash and embers and then washed and covered with a cloth.
In short, in Sardinia there is a great variety of bread that is linked to the traditional culture of the island. All to taste.