La Marocca di Casola is an ancient bread typical of one small rural area (Casola, Lunigiana) in Northern Italy. It is made almost entirely with chestnut flour, which is what the locals had in the past, when wheat flour was too expensive. It is dense and has a characteristic flavor. It has recently been recognized as a protected traditional local bread by Slow Food (Presidio Slow Food).
I like everything traditional, and I dig in mysterious breads like this one, so different and so unknown. I did not find any previous blog post about Marocca, but I did find the recipe here and there. From what I know, only a couple of bakeries in the area of Casola still make this bread, so it was quite challenging and exciting to try to revive this recipe by actually making it (and not simply reading about it).
The main issue with actualizing the recipe was that the chestnut flour I found surely required more water than it was suggested (the recipe called for a mere 80 g, I used 220 g). Second, nowadays the local bakeries add yeast in the second fermentation. I omitted the yeast -and relied only on my sourdough starter- the second time I put my hands at this loaf. The result was just as good if not even better compared to when I used brewer’s yeast. Third… the dough is like concrete. It does not rise much but the ferments make cracks appear on the surface. It all looked very primeval and I loved it!
Boil 1 medium-small potato (60-80 g) and put aside to cool (it will be added several hours later). Combine 350 g chestnut flour, 150 g all-purpose flour with 150 g sourdough starter (pasta madre) and 220 g water. Make a ball, cover, and let rest for several hours (3 and 1/2 if going for the sourdough only version, for longer if going for the mixed version with both sourdough and brewer’s yeast). When the ball has leavened (it does not grow much but you can see little bubbles and cracks under the surface) add add 10 g of salt, the potato, and 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil. At this point you can, if you want, add also 5 g fresh yeast dissolved in a little water. Knead until all is incorporated.
Divide the dough into 2 rounds and place in small baskets dusted with corn flour to rest, covered. If you went for the only sourdough option, let the dough ferment in the fridge for at least one night, better if a whole day. If you went for the mixed version (adding yeast when adding salt) let rest for only 2 hours. When ready, invert of a baking dish, make one slash in the center (or none at all), and bake in a preheated oven at 200 Celsius (392 Fahrenheit) degrees for 35-40 minutes.
And… I am happy to participate to the sparkling monthly showcase of my talented friend Wisla, Sourdough and Yeast.