The first time I came across challah bread was when I moved to Los Angeles. Despite the fantastic Jewish bakeries in the Rome ghetto, there was no Jewish bakery in Bologna and none that I knew of when I lived in Milan.
There are three standard desserts you will find in any pizzeria in Italy: panna cotta, torta della nonna and profiteroles. The reason for their ubiquity is that they are all bought from the mass-producing behemoth – for being factory made, they are actually pretty decent. But because I know they are not handmade, I never order them.
If it seems like I am on a gluten-free pizza quest, it is entirely coincidental. When I want pizza, I eat real pizza (or make it at home). But I do love different bases for different toppings. This week it was the turn of chickpeas flour, in an effort to use up the different flours I buy, experiment with once and then sit in my pantry until I happen to remember them.
Let’s make one thing clear: I excel at baking and pastries but I am not a bread guru. In fact, the two techniques stand quite apart, requiring different skills and different mindsets. I make loaves, focaccia and quick breads on a semi-regular basis but I am not entirely sure you should follow my bread-making advice. There are much more qualified people.