My grandmother baked bread often, and when visiting her during the holidays and summer vacation, I eagerly awaited baking day. Now, each time I bake bread, the familiar yeasty fragrance brings me back to her small kitchen.
While my husband and son eat their hot bread with butter, I prefer mine prepared as my grandmother did – she called it loggia bread, although I remember calling it yogi bread when I was really small. What is loggia bread? Well, in my family, it is hot bread sliced in half, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and then sprinkled with dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve eaten something similar if you have eaten at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. We, my family, that is, find it amusing when the waiter excitedly asks if he or she can demonstrate how to make the dipping oil; we always smile and say yes, politely allowing the waiter to do their thing, all the while thinking, it’s really better and less messy to do it our way, not that stops any of us from eating it, mind you.
Anyway, back to the story…I was never sure if loggia bread was a creation of my grandmother or if it had true Sicilian roots, the recipe handed down to her from my great-grandmother. I researched the term extensively – I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but I’m a librarian – anyway, I found nothing. However, sometimes the planets align, and on a day in January, I came across Erica De Mane’s blog. I hurriedly composed and sent an email to her, and in less than a week, Erica’s contact in Sicily confirmed the origin of loggia bread. In Sicilian dialect, bread with oil is referred to as pane coll’ogghia, which Erica said would be pronounced loggia. The loggia bread mystery was solved, and to celebrate, loggia bread all around!
Portion dough into 24 pieces and form into small balls. Place on a parchment lined baking pan, cover with a damp tea towel and let rise again for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Uncover rolls and bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until bread reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees. I find using an instant read thermometer works best when deciding on the doneness of bread.
**Prefer loaves? Read on!
Grease 2 loaf pans (8 1/2 by 4 1/2); I also place a piece of parchment, but that’s up to you. After first rising, divide dough into 2 loaf forms and place each into a prepared loaf pan and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to rise again for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake in 400 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, or when an instant read thermometer reads 190 degrees. Remove from pans and allow to cool – if you can wait – before slicing.
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Slice or break apart a hot roll , drizzle with 1/8-1/4 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle on a pinch of dried oregano, salt, and black pepper.