The Atessa bakery that saved a small production of unknown wheat

Jun 17 2024, 18:02
Solina, saragolla, spelt, frassineto and other soft hill wheats, the incessant research among small farmers in the area is just one of the strengths of the Farina del mio Sacco bakery in Atessa

by Jolanada Ferrara

The “Pane e Territorio” award (“Bread and Territory”) in Gambero Rosso's Pane e panettieri d'Italia guide - created in collaboration with Petra - went to the Abruzzo bakery Farina del mio Sacco in Atessa. We interviewed the creators Mattia Tieri and Lisa Di Maulo who safeguarded the production of this grain with the ash bread. Mattia and Lisa, from Abruzzo in their early thirties, both vegetarians, "launched" themselves into the magical world of fermentations eight years ago, he with a degree in mechanical engineering in his pocket, she with psychology exams to finish. A young couple animated by healthy passions including that for good bread that nourishes and is good for you, made with peasant flours possibly from the hilly area of ​​Atessa, the quiet agricultural center home of the oldest dried fig in Italy. Atessa is also the place where they were born and raised.

Eight years ago Farina del mio Sacco was born in Atessa

While Mattia recovers from his interrupted sleep to bake the day's bread, Lisa tells the story of Farina del mio Sacco. An out-of-the-box story that started from scratch, when Mattia decides to take up bread making without any experience whatsoever. At the time, only the oven and the mixer that belonged to Mattia's father (which they involved in the business, "upsetting his way of working") and the sourdough starter activated by Mattia with raisins: "There It took months and many refreshments, with only organic flours, before arriving at the sourdough that we use every day in our oven. Each product is unique, handmade", underlines Lisa, the "fresh and natural" face of the brand.
«We spent entire afternoons thinking about a rye bread with seeds made by us, then we had two trusted friends try it and from their reaction we understood that we could venture into it. Rye fascinated us due to its difficulty in managing it, it's a flour that needs to be tamed, we said to ourselves "let's test ourselves and see how it goes"". From there it was a crescendo of difficulties - "many at the beginning thought we were done for!" - but also of satisfaction: «We won, with difficulty and to the great surprise of the most sceptical. We managed to attract people from outside, they come from Vasto, Lanciano, Pescara to buy our bread, they stock up for a while and are happy like that."

Organic certification

Farina del mio Sacco is an organic oven. Certified organic bread and oven (Icea) is not a commonly widespread combination due to the cumbersome nature of the practice: «According to the certifying body - explains Lisa - when producing with organic flours it is not possible to work with conventional flours at the same time. This is why we work in two separate phases, distinguishing production with certified organic flours from that with traditional ones, but still produced in a natural way."

For them it is a consolidated way of working already two years after opening. «In 2018 a national representative of the NaturaSì sales points came to visit us looking for a certified organic bakery, they had noticed us on Facebook, they asked us to get certified. Why not, we said to ourselves. We asked for an inspection of the company and everything went smoothly. Having signed and made the commitment, we toasted in the laboratory as if we were at a wedding! Then they also looked for us from Termoli for the Fattoria Di Vaira sales point, in the province of Campobasso: they send us the agricultural products, from courgettes to scamorza, and we send back the stuffed pizzas in the pan, the savory pies and various cakes with the fruit. For the flours they rely completely on us, they know how rigorous we are in our research. An appreciation that also comes from customers, who often thank us because they can eat wheat-based products without experiencing digestibility problems."

Farina del mio Sacco's bread

Every day they bake about ten different breads, mostly made with flours from small producers in the area. On Saturdays there is the big box of oats and solina, good for making toast, but Alberto Lattanzio's solina (Molino Lattanzio) lends itself magnificently to other uses: «Our savory tarallucci with solina and also the sweet ones stuffed with ragnata ( jam) of grapes are very strong. We sell unthinkable quantities of buckwheat bread, we always combine it with 30% solina and call it "buckwheat cake", very low and very tasty, an almost gluten-free bread created to accommodate those with sensitivities or intolerances". And then the seasoned breads: «The other evening, for example, we sautéed two kilos of Altino sweet peppers from the nearby La Tavola dei Briganti company and then mixed them with the Fragranese flour from Orietta Menna (Terra Nobile agricultural company, recovers and produces traditional grains in the province of Chieti, ed.). The result was an amazing seasoned bread. Our recipes are born like this, where there is an interesting vegetable we run to get it."

The project with ash wheat

Solina, saragolla, spelt, ash and other soft hill wheats, research is incessant among small growers in the area. «Direct control of the supply chain represents our starting and arrival point. The goal is to find farmers who produce specifically for us, as happens with Luigi Marcolongo and his ash wheat grown two kilometers from our laboratory, a marvel. We also managed to get the last bags of last year's harvest, however poor it was, Luigi knows well that we will buy his entire harvest and yet initially he was reluctant to give it away, almost as if he were jealous, it's part of the character of the Abruzzo people and we like it that way too , he is one of the beautiful people we met along the way."
Frassineto bread is perhaps the most authentic project born in their laboratory, «a project that grew up with us, we feel it is ours. That harvested and ground wheat remained in a few peasant homes, they said they wanted to make pasta or bread with it but then it didn't turn out well, it's a flour that's not easy to work with as it has little gluten. When we realized that it was a burden for Luigi, including an economic one (he had to load up on the grain, take it to the mill and then have it bagged) we proposed to him to sell it to us, we would take care of everything. He was convinced, so the grain was not lost."

Future projects? «We were born here and we like this small place, it has the feel of family, it gives us tranquility and allows us to escape home, even for just five minutes, despite the tough hours we work. It is the right size for us, at least for now, even if we do not rule out the opening of a larger store in the populous valley area", in Val di Sangro.

Instagram @Farina del mio sacco 

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