A classic of the Zingerman’s world for well over 25 years now, Paesano bread is one of those rare culinary offerings that seems to be enjoyed equally by serious food folks and those who are comfortable with more mainstream offerings. While I love so many of our other breads—Country Miche, and the Roadhouse in particular right now—the Paesano has long been a favorite of mine. It’s probably my top pick for making bruschetta. The toasting really takes the fantastic flavor up even higher. Because the Paesano holds up well, I’ve taken it on the plane regularly. I have probably taken Paesano to Ethiopia, Slovakia, Ireland, California, and a hundred points in between. Last week I did my first plane trip and my first ZingTrain in-person presentation in 15 months! I packed a half loaf of Paesano to take with me to Texas.
One day, about 25 years or so ago, back when the Paesano was still relatively new to us, I was traveling in the southern Italian region of Puglia. As I always do, I was seeking out a bakery! I can go a long time without really eating a meal, but I have a hard time if I don’t have any bread with me. The most famous bread of the region is the golden semolina loaf of Altamura, which is awesome. What I discovered though is that the bread that many bakeries in the region make is essentially a first cousin of what we here in Washtenaw County call Paesano. With the same great thin crust and pillowy, substantive white crumb, they often make it with olives. We do that at the Bakehouse for “special bakes,” but in Puglia, they leave the pits in (no way that would happen on this side of the Atlantic—too much insurance risk!).
If you’re one of the few folks who don’t yet know it, the Paesano has a thin, gently chewy crust that we dust lightly with organic cornmeal. Inside it has a soft white moist crumb that, as many folks around here will now rattle off without having to think about it, “is great for ripping and dipping.” It’s also got beautiful big holes in the crumb, which is a tribute to the quality of the work done by the Bakehouse bread team—the holes are a sign of good dough development, though they do make the Paesano a more adventurous choice for anyone who wants to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. On occasion, we get complaints about the holes. When that would happen, Frank (now retired co-founder of the Bakehouse) would always smile seriously, and with a subtle wink, say, “Wow! Thank you so much! We work really hard to put those holes in there.”
Hungry for More?
- Sign up for Ari’s Top 5 enewsletter to hear more from Ari every week!
- Order online to pick up a loaf at the Bakeshop
- Paesano ships well! Send a loaf or two to a bread lover in your life.
- If you want to bake Paesano at home, pick up a copy of the Zingerman’s Bakehouse cookbook!