Pane con Ciccioli – Lard Crackling Sourdough Bread

There’s a wealth of fat-enriched breads in many cuisines because we’ve known, for a very long time, that fat and bread are so good together. The Italian recipe litany, where this bread originates, is no exception! Fat-enriched breads were particularly loved at Easter in Italy, when the end of lent brought the ability to celebrate with animal foods once again.

Fats derived from pigs were in daily use in virtually all Italian kitchens until the 1960s and ciccioli (the cracklings left over after rending lard) were often added to doughs. Here, I’ve taken the idea and had fun, making it into a sourdough spelt rolled loaf with added garlic and rosemary.

This should be cooked in a 1lb loaf tin as the abundant fat often leaks out during the baking.

Pane con Ciccioli – Lard Crackling Bread

Ingredients:

For the dough:

135 g wholegrain spelt flour

135 g white spelt flour

54g ripe sourdough starter

5g salt

3 tbsp lard (plus extra, melted, for glazing, if desired)

c. 110g water (adjust this based on the needs of your flour)

For the filling:

140g cracklings from rending lard

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

Generous handful of fresh rosemary

Generous grinding of salt and fresh pepper

Method:

  • Mix the salt and spelt flours together in a bowl. Dot the lard onto the top of the mix.
  • Stir the sourdough starter into the water and then pour the mix onto the flour/salt/lard.
  • Bring all of the ingredients together and work with your hands to create a smooth, ensuring the lard is well-distributed.
  • Leave this for a bulk fermentation stage. For me, at 22C/72F this is usually about 5 hours, performing a stretch and fold every hour. You can cut this short and refrigerate it overnight to work on again in the morning.
  • On a well-floured board, Roll out the dough into a large oval (roughly 45-35cm)
  • Dot the ciccioli (lard cracklings), garlic and rosemary over the dough, leaving a border of an inch or so clear around the edges.
  • Fold in the long edges of the dough and then roll it up (like a strudel) leaving the seal at the bottom.
  • Leave to proof. You can do this by putting inside a lidded (or covered) loaf tin and leaving at 22C/72F for an hour or two.
  • Preheat your oven to 230C/445F. Slash the top of the loaf and glaze the loaf with some gently melted lard if desired.
  • Cook at 230C/445F for 15 minutes, 190C/375F for 35 minutes with the lid on, then a further 10 minutes at 190C/375F with the lid off.
  • Leave to cool slightly (if you can!) and then enjoy!

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