Round and salty the bread biscuits are typical of Agerola, a small village up in the hilly area above the Amalfi Coast. they are twice-baked for at least 12 hours, and the heat of the first cooking (when the bread is made) to make them very crunchy and dry. They are made from whole wheat flour or rye flour and always with a yeast base.
In this area of Italy until about 30 years ago, when people were not very well-off, each family had their own wood oven and they made biscuits with the bread production only once or twice a month.
People used to lend the yeast base to their neighbours and then they would keep the yeast base “living” for other local families. This cooperation was a very important part of village life! Most people were quite poor and therefore they really helped each other. Time was important to cultivate crops and to feed the animals in the stables. Bread biscuit were very known during the Angioin era for supplying bread to the navy during the long war campaigns.
I illustrate how we prepare them:
Soak the biscuits in a bowl of fresh water and then put them into a dish and add chopped tomatoes, garlic, onions, oregan, basil, salty anchovies and red pepper. Then add a little olive oil and a glass of good red wine. This course is called ‘Caponata’ in the Amalfi Coast but don’t ask for that in Sicily as they would serve you some fried mixed vegetables!