Any city break for me these days includes a tour of the city’s best bakeries. Finding the bakeries isn’t always easy, so I’ve decided to start a series of “Best Bakeries in [City]” posts to make research for other travelling bread enthusiasts easier. A bakery tour of a city is also a great way of exploring a place in a different way, discovering neighbourhoods you may not have otherwise stumbled upon, meeting fellow bread bakers and tasting delicious local bakes along the way. Here is my pick of the best bakeries in Rome.
Best bakeries in Rome
Having just spent a weekend in Rome, my Airbnb hostess was hugely helpful in finding two of the three bakeries I would like to recommend here as the best bakeries in Rome. I discovered the third bakery while exploring the historic centre by bike.
Dall’Antò Via della Madonna dei Monti, 16
A wonderful bakery in Monti, central Rome’s urban village, dedicated to the rediscovery of heritage grains and old-fashioned, rare, artisanal flatbreads and pancakes. You will not find typical leavened bread loaves here. Instead, come here for rustic snacks made from chickpea flour (farinata), chestnut flour crepes (necci) and wheat flour pancakes which are first cooked in a flat pan called “testo” which is traditionally made of terracotta or cast iron and then boiled in salted water (testaroli). There is also an impressive library full of Italian bread books in the back of the shop. This is the place to come to for anyone interested in pure artisanal heritage baking.
Panella – L’Arte del Pane Via Merulana, 54
An impressive bakery and pastry shop with a wide variety of breads, pastries as well as baked and fried snacks such as arancini and fried pumpkin flowers filled with rice, pancetta and mozzarella. Perfect for a treat any time of the day with a nice outside seating area to enjoy your snacks.
Pasticceria il Boccione Via del Portico D’Ottavia, 1
Also known as ‘Il Forno del Ghetto’ and situated in the Jewish district of Rome, this kosher family-run bakery sells Roman Jewish classics which includes cookies like the biscottini (cinnamon and almond biscotti), crostata (sweet baked fruit tart), pizza ebraica (‘Jewish pizza’ – a sweet nut cake made with almonds, raisins, pine nuts and candied fruits) and torte di ricotta (ricotta cake). The Savour has a delicious recipe for pizza ebraica here.
There are of course other bakeries in Rome which deserve a mention here, so feel free to give a shout out to your favourite bakery in the comments!
A month ago, I visited the Zillertal in Austria for a few days of skiing on the Hintertuxer Gletscher. The weather wasn’t as good as we’d hoped for, so we visited the village of Mayrhofen, and more specifically the Erlebnis-Sennerei Zillertal on the way there. It’s a great place to pick up some local cheeses and other dairy produce. I also picked up a new type of bread – “Schüttelbrot” – which isn’t very common in my neck of the woods in the North of Austria but what a revelation!
Eisacktaler Schüttelbrot from the Bäckerei Überbacher in Southern Tyrol
Schüttelbrot is the smaller, harder and more durable relation of Vinschgerl. Traditionally, Schüttelbrot has been popular on Alpine Tyrolean farms where using fresh produce wasn’t really a viable option.
The name ‘shake bread’ makes reference to shaking during the baking process which loosens and flattens the bread. The flat shape ensures the bread hardens quickly which in turn makes it very durable. The flatbreads need to be stored in an airy, dry space. They taste great with cold cuts of meat and cheese.
Here is my own Schüttelbrot –
Day 1 – Prepare the sourdough
25g sourdough starter
125g dark wholemeal rye flour
Combine the sourdough starter, rye flour and water in a bowl, cover and rest for 16-24 hours.
Day 2 – Prepare the final dough
250g rye flour
125g strong white wheat flour
3g dried yeast
2.5g caraway seeds
2.5g blue fenugreek
How to make Schüttelbrot
Combine all ingredients including the sourdough starter from the day before.
Cover and rest for 1/2 hour.
Cover a baking tray with baking paper.
Using a dough scraper and take out dough at approximately 150g for each Schüttelbrot piece.
The dough is quite sticky and therefore it can’t be rolled out. The dough parts are therefore placed in a baking tray then shaken until each piece has been shaped into a round, flat form a couple of millimeters thick.
This recipe produces dough which is even stickier than shown in the videos. By way of cheating, I have been using a silicone spatula to flatten the dough pieces into the appropriate shape! This works really quite well, so for those of us who aren’t quite mastering the art of ‘Schütteln’, this is a good workaround.
Bake the shaken dough pieces at 210 °C for approx. 25 mins.
Pangrattato (Italian for ‘breadcrumb’) is a flavoursome and crunchy Italian breadcrumb topping, particularly nice as an addition to risotto or pasta dishes. It’s easy to put together and a great way to use up old, stale bread (see also Yasmin’s guest post for more recipe ideas with leftover bread).
I first discovered pangrattato with this delicious recipe for Cauliflower Risotto by Jamie Oliver from his cookbook “Jamie’s Italy“. Blitzing and frying leftover bread to prepare a breadcrumb topping opened up a wonderfully diverse range of accompaniment opportunities, enhancing my mid-week risotto and pasta dishes ever since.
Try one of the following recipes, transform any plain Italian dish into something infinitely more flavourful and enjoy the taste explosion.
Truly magnificent, this version works best with stale rye breads.
2handfuls stale breadtorn into pieces - any kind of rye bread or whole-wheat bread will be fine. As always, good-quality bread makes for tastier crumbs!
1small tin of anchovies
3dried red chillies
I also added a clove of garlic (very finely chopped)
How to make pangrattato
Blitz the bread, anchovies (including most of the oil from the anchovy tin) and chillies in a food processor until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Heat the remaining splash of anchovy oil in a frying pan and fry the breadcrumb mix, stirring and tossing constantly until golden brown, crisp and crunchy.
There are many variations of pangrattato. Experiment and adjust the ingredients in line with the dish you are preparing – use porcini mushrooms for a mushroom risotto for example. Here is another favourite of mine.
Focaccia is a flattish rustic Italian bread with an open, irregular crumb structure. I love focaccia when it’s moist and chewy without being too oily, when it’s kept simple, with an emphasis on fresh herbs and olive oil flavours.
Focaccia dough is fairly wet and sticky, but the addition of olive oil means it’s still pliable, soft and easy to work with. Additionally, I’ve added a bit of semolina and rye flour to give the bread more character.
Ingredients (to make 2 focaccia breads) –
The day before baking…
Combine 50g 100% hydration active sourdough starter with 100g water and 100g wholemeal flour.
Give it 12 to 16 hours to ripen.
On the day of baking, you’ll need the following dough ingredients…
285g strong white bread flour
285g Italian 00 flour
80g rye flour
7g dry yeast
11g sea salt
90g olive oil
380g warm water
4 tbsp olive oil + some more for brushing
How to make the focaccias
Combine the prepared sourdough with the dough ingredients in a large bowl.
Tip out onto a clean work surface and knead for approx. 10 minutes.
Shape the wettish dough into a round by folding the edges into the centre.
Cover the dough with the bowl (moisten the bowl’s sides and edges before you place it over the dough).
Leave the dough to prove for approx. 1.5 hours.
Prepare two round cake tins (approx. 23 cm in diameter) and wrap tin foil around the outside of the tin to prevent any oil from leaking.
Put 2 tbsp of olive oil into each cake tin and use a brush to make sure the whole bottom of the pan is evenly coated.
Lightly dust a free space on the work surface with flour.
Carefully move the dough over onto the floured surface, taking care not to deflate the dough too much in the process.
Divide the dough into two equal segments.
Fold the edges into the centre, then place the dough parts into the cake tins, seam-side down.
Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Very gently pull, push and prod from the centre towards the edges to obtain a roundish shape.
Cover the pans with a clean dishcloth and set aside at room temperature for about 30 – 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 220°C
Use your fingers to push the rosemary into the dough, distributing it evenly. Push ever so slightly outward, towards the edge of the pan. You’ll dimple the dough at the same time, giving the bread its characteristic indentations.
Evenly sprinkle over the sea salt.
Place the focaccias on the center rack of the oven and bake until crisp and golden-brown, for approx. 25 minutes.
Remove the focaccias from the pan onto a wire rack.
Finally, brush the surface of the breads with olive oil while hot to give it a nice glossy finish.