How is Italian bread made?
1. The day begins with ingredients mixed inside an antique 1913 Peerless mixer.
Mickey Padora uses a simple and basic bread baking technique that dates back to the time of the Egyptians in the 20th century BC.
He uses four simple ingredients: flour, water, yeast and a bit of salt. Each begins around 5 a.m. Padora begins by carefully pouring a high gluten flour - 100 lb. bags of ConAgra Mills flour - and other measured ingredients into the mixer. When finished mixing, the dough is shaped and molded by hand into loaves. The loaves are placed in long wooden racks to proof, or rise. Tails, or sheets of canvas, separate the loaves as they rise.
By 11 a.m., the loaves are transferred to the oven where they bake in shifts for about 10 minutes each. The loaves are removed at just the right moment. Only Padora and his son, Larry, whose hands have become acclimated to the heat, can handle the hot loaves. Others would suffer searing burns to the palms.
Still very warm, individual loaves are placed into white bags for delivery, which takes most of the afternoon.
The bread is baked year-round, but Mickey says spring and fall are the best seasons for baking since the dough isn't too temperamental at those times. By contrast, summer's humidity forces Mickey to occasionally add ice to the dough. In winter, the dough might need a small amount of hot water to make it just right. But don't ask Mickey for precise measurements.
When you bake bread daily for over 50 years, you just know when it's right.