The feather in the cap of the region’s culinary traditions
In the city like in its surroundings, one thing that Ferrara natives simply can’t do without is the daily ritual of shopping for fresh, fragrant bread. It is said that the secret to its unique qualities is not the recipe but the air, the water and thus the proofing process.
Before the 1100s, bread came in the form of round loaves. However, in Ferrara’s Statutes of 1287, precise rules on the matter were imposed: only white flour was allowed, formed into “orletti” (a sort of horn shape united in the centre), with a specific weight. Bakeries had to be far from public passage to ensure burning embers didn’t hit passers-by and guarantee that the baked goods weren’t ruined by dust and dirt from the street.
Each bakery put his own seal on his products, almost presenting them as prized goods. It was, in all effects, a true institution. The twisted bread seen in the coppia Ferrarese as we know it first appeared in 1536 during a Carnival banquet. The elegance it embodies today is a quality taken on over the centuries, and the traditional coupled form with the two elegantly twisted pieces creating four breadsticks came down from history to finally be added to the “Italian Register of Protected Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications”. In 2011, Production Regulations were adopted and in 2004 the Consortium for the Protection of Coppia Ferrarese PGI was formed.
400 g “0” flour
180 g lukewarm water
20 g olive oil
30 g lard
100 g fresh sourdough starter or 10 g brewer’s yeast
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon malt
Dissolve the yeast or starter in the lukewarm water, then add the malt, flour, olive oil and salt. Knead well for 15 minutes, then, once the dough is smooth, combine the lard and continue to work it until completely absorbed. Let the dough rise, covered with a damp cloth, for 3 hours. Divide into 4 balls, roll them with a rolling pin to form strips that are about 50 cm long. Now twist each piece: hold one end with one hand and, with the other, start rolling and unrolling. Unite them to form the coppia (pressing them together in the centre), then let rise on a baking tray in a warm place for 90-120 minutes.
Preheat the oven at 200°C. Bake the coppia for 18-20 minutes. A true Ferrara native will eat this bread with just about any dish, but it is particularly delicious with garlic salami. Pieces that are a bit stale can be crumbled into a latte for a traditional local breakfast!