With a volume of $ 22.3 billion, the Italian bakery products industry is the sixth largest bakery products industry in the world. With an import of $ 1.2 billion and an export volume of $ 2.16 billion, the Italian bakery industry is seen as a highly dynamic industry.
According to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ‘s November 2014 report on bakery products, the Italian bakery products industry, with a volume of $ 22.3 billion, is the sixth largest bakery products industry in the world. With an import of $ 1.2 billion and an export volume of $ 2.16 billion, the Italian bakery industry is seen as a highly dynamic industry.
Italians who have developed more than 350 types of bread throughout centuries have created bread, pasta and biscuit cultures that influence the worldwide cuisines, using the richness of their geography. The culinary tradition of the country that goes back to ancient times and the quality durum wheat grown on its soil has enabled the country to produce a large variety of products.
BREAD CULTURE IN ITALY
It is known that there are more than 350 different types of bread in Italy which is divided into 20 different regions. The diversity of Italian bread is also a reflection of the historical and cultural richness of the country. Although bread made from barley, oats and rye is preferred in the Mediterranean as much as the wheat bread, the most preferred one is the buckwheat in the Italian kitchen, especially in the northern parts of the country.
Italians have developed many different bread types throughout history, some of which are still being produced and consumed with interest by the public. These breads are mostly produced in boutique furnaces and reflect the Italian tradition. According to a study by the International Association of Plant Bakeries (AIBI) dated 2015, there are a total of 190 industrial furnaces and 22,500 boutique furnaces in Italy. Boutique bakeries represent 85 percent of the market. This is an indication that Italians prefer traditional bread in their daily diet, consuming 52 kg per person per year.
One of the most popular breads in northern Italy, in the Lombardy region, is the michetta bread, also known as rosetta. Micheta, a kind of baked bread, is made of white flour and when it is cooked, large holes are formed, which can be filled with various materials and consumed in this way. Puccia is the popular bread of the Veneto region. The puccia, prepared with olive oil and leavened dough, is cooked in small balls. Another bread belonging to the Veneto region is Ciabatta. Ciabatta is prepared using wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. Ciabatta, consumed mostly as sandwich bread, was first made to create an alternative to French bread loaf. Pane di segale, a bread of the Aosta Valley region, is the leavened and wholemeal bread made from rye flour.
Pane di segale, traditionally made by families living in the Alps of Italy, is known to be a type of nutritious bread sometimes mixed with wheat, millet, corn and chestnut. Grissini is a kind of Italian bread, which almost dates back to the 14th century and is well known all around the world. Grissini, which is being consumed these days more as a snack, is prepared with multi-purpose wheat flour, olive oil and yeast. Focaccia, which is prepared in a similar way as the pizza dough and decorated with vegetables and other ingredients, is flavored with olive oil and rosemary. Focaccia is very popular as a snack and among the street food, as well as being consumed as bread at the meals. Panettone, a kind of Christmas bread, is prepared with multi-purpose wheat flour, sugar, rum, yeast and flavoring aromas such as raisins, lemon juice and honey are added to the dough.
One of the bread consumed in the inner parts of Italy is neccio. Neccio bread is made from very fine ground chestnut meal. Prepared by adding sourdough, water and salt, neccio is also consumes with such stuffing ingredients such as cheese or honey. Pane di terni, a Tuscan bread, is different from other Italian bread types. Pane di terni, prepared with wheat flour, yeast, mineral water and rye does not include salt and can be served with cheese, ham and sausage.
Tortano bread, also known as Casatiello, is popular in the Campania region and is consumed predominantly on religious holidays. This bread, which is prepared with flour, yeast, tail fat, cheese and ham, is also sometimes flavored with eggs. Gerda bread, which is a type of light bread, is also Sicilian bread. Prepared with small pieces of tail fat, Gerda bread is a kind of thin bread that does not so much swell.
PASTA CULTURE IN ITALY
One of the most basic foods of the traditional Italian cuisine, the pasta is thought to have begun to be made in Sicily in the 12th century. Although the information about the history of pasta is quite varied, it is predominantly associated with the Italian cuisine.
The strong bond of the Italians with pasta is closely related to the high production of durum wheat in the country. Although pasta is produced in large industrial plants, boutique production is still very common. In many regions there are shops selling locally-produced pasta and in certain regions of Italy, pasta varieties which are dried and prepared entirely by natural methods away from industrial production are also sold.
More than 300 dry pasta varieties in Italy need to be produced from 100 percent durum wheat under the law. Fresh pasta is produced with slightly different materials. While the fresh pasta is produced with multipurpose flour and egg in the north of the country, it is generally prepared with the dough obtained from semolina in the south of the country. Fresh pasta is seen today as a more special type of consumption. Fresh pasta has a very central place in the traditional Italian cuisine as its preparation requires more care and effort. Also, flavoring the fresh pasta with local products is a part of the tradition.
According to the data obtained from the International Pasta Organization (IPO), Italians who consume an average of 26 kg per person annually have brought an infinite number of pasta varieties to their kitchens. Some pasta species have become highly regional while others have become one of the most commonly consumed foods in the world. As studying all pasta varieties in the Italian kitchen would entail a long period of research and writing a detailed report, it would be appropriate to examine some of the major products known all over the world. The most popular pasta varieties are farfalle, spaghetti, penne, fusilli, ravioli, fettuccine and ravioli pasta.
The farfalle pasta which is specific to the Lombardy region is a kind of pasta that is produced and loved in many parts of the world. The farfalle pasta has a number of varieties; among them is a larger version of the farfalle, the bow-tie pasta. The farfalle pasta is mostly consumed with cream sauces. In addition, other popular sauce ingredients are beetroot, spinach and tomatoes.
Spaghetti, which is the world’s most popular pasta type, is also prepared using ground wheat and water. Italian spaghetti is made from durum wheat and semolina. Spaghetti, which is quite long in its original form, has become shorter and shorter. The penne pasta is unique to the Campania region. The penne pasta is one of the pasta types based on their various sizes and shapes and can be consumed with heavy sauces. The most common ones are arrabbiata, pesto and marinara sauces. Al dente, which is cooked and served firm, is one of the most consumed pasta types in the world. Pasta, which is known as fusilli, is also one of the pasta prepared with whole wheat flour. By its very nature, it can be consumed with many sauces such as tomato, cream, vegetable or meat sauces.
BISCUIT CULTURE IN ITALY
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s “Bakery Products” report of 2014, the Italian biscuit industry achieved the highest growth in 2009-2013, reaching a market share of $ 2.5 billion. It is foreseen that the market of biscuit, which is seen by the Italians as an easy snack and breakfast food, will grow by 1.4 percent between 2014 and 2018. The report also states that the sweet biscuit industry has reached 84 percent of its total retail volume. Salty biscuits and crackers represent 15 percent of the market.
Biscotti which is regarded as a traditional product is one of the most important biscuits in the Italian cuisine. Biscotti is originated in Italy’s Prato and it is a double-roasted biscuit produced using almonds. These biscuits are made using flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts and almonds. According to the conventional recipe, yeast or butter is not used in the production of biscotti. Nowadays, baking soda and spices are added. One of the other popular biscuits is pignoli. Pignoli, made with almond paste, powdered sugar and eggs, is the favorite snack alongside biscotti.
Pizelle which is prepared using flour, egg, sugar, butter and vegetable oil is also considered as the waffle of Italian cuisine. Pizelle has a hard and crispy texture; it is consumed along with the desserts or cream in Christmas or other religious festivals. When it is consumed as being rolled with cream inside it becomes a dessert named Cannoli and it is highly popular. Cannoli derived in Sicily and it is a special day treat consumed with cheese inside.
Another dessert prepared in boiling oil is zeppole. The fried dough of zeppole is flavored with powdered sugar, intense cream, jelly, cake cream, butter and honey. Another traditional dessert is Anisette cookie. Being one of the Christmas cookies, Anisette cookie is prepared with wheat flour, rising powder, sugar and butter. Anisette cookie to which lemon flavor is added is served with sesame on top.
Being an Italian macaron, amaretti is peculiar to Lombardy region. However, today it has become a readily available snack around the world. Sugar, liqueur and butter are added to the dough which is made from almond paste; it is cooked in the oven. Having a crispy texture, struffoli is served with honey, cinnamon and orange. Another dessert prepared in Italian bakeries and also cooked at homes traditionally is ravioli. Ravioli is cooked after its dough which is made from all-purpose wheat flour is mixed with vanilla, almond and grated lemon.