The demonstration took place at a wonderful organic farm in the Sibillni mountains: Azienda Agricola Michele. They grow their own organic wheat, using old methods, then take their flour to a very old mill in Umbria that uses only river water to power the stone grinding wheels.
These mills are very rare today but this milling method retains all of the nutrients in the wheat so he thinks it’s worth the travel and hassle of bringing his wheat there.
This azienda only makes a wheat classified as #2, a light whole grain which has all of the germ and most of the bran left in. No white flour here. They grow 2 types of flour, a soft wheat for bread, (I forgot the name, but it’s an old variety) and an old variety of hard wheat to make pasta called “Senatore Cappelli”
The pasta is actually made in an old fashioned pasta making place near Tivoli, outside of Rome. Once again, the travel and hassle is worth it to Michele because they do such a superior job turning the flour into pasta.
Not all pasta is equal…how it’s made, which flour, which water, what temperatures, etc etc. make one pasta different from another. It’s an art form.
The bread is made with a natural yeast starter.
The azienda also makes and sells cookies, traditional cookies made with flour, olive oil and vino cotto. No rising agents, no salt, no butter. He mixes the dough, then lets it sit overnight, then in the morning the dough is shaped by hand into little wreaths. We all had a go at this. It’s harder than it looks because each little chunk of dough needs to be warmed in your hands by kneading it until it becomes pliable enough to shape. Good thing there were a lot of us.
Bread made with natural wheat flour and yeast tastes of wheat, has slight sour flavor (not at all like commercial sour doughs) and keeps at least a week, unlike modern Italian bakery bread that becomes hard and crumbly after less than a day. It’s easy to digest, is full of nutrients and best of all has that lovely greyish color, hard crust and springy texture of the breads I so fondly remember from my youth, when most of the bread in Italy was made from these unrefined flours and baked in wood ovens.