Tuscan bread – known as pane toscano in Italy – was given official D.O.P status by the European Union on Tuesday.
The announcement appeared in the Official Journal of the European Union, Corriere della Sera reported.
Under EU law, products classified as D.O.P, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin), can only be labelled as such if they come from the designated region and are produced according to specifications.
"Tuscan bread is unique as an Italian bread but it is found throughout central Italy, as it defines the peasant cuisine that is common in the central regions of Italy like Umbria," Coral Sisk, a food and wine tour guide in Tuscany, told The Local.
In order to merit the D.O.P status, each loaf of Tuscan bread must weigh between 450 and 550g if it’s rhombus-shaped or between 0.90 and 1.20kg if it’s rectangular, with a thickness of between 5 and 10cm.
The crust must also be hazelnut in colour and have a crisp and crumbly texture. The crumbs, on the other hand, must be white-ivory in colour and have irregular-shaped holes.
The bread will now join Italy’s exclusive group of D.O.P products including Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gorgonzola.
Sisk said that awarding the status to the characteristically "tasteless" Tuscan bread will likely enhance its image and drive up the price, ironic given it was first produced by peasants.
"I don't believe it deserves D.O.P I would much rather see investment towards awarding D.O.P status to ancient heritage grains, like farro, that could be in danger due to the globalized trade of industrial wheat and corn," she said.
Find out how to make Tuscan bread:
Ingredients for one large loaf:
25g fresh yeast
A pinch of sugar
310 ml of water
500 g bread flour
One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Put the yeast into a bowl with a pinch of sugar. Stir in the water* and leave it to ferment.
Put the flour in a large, wide bowl, or onto a work surface. Add the yeast a pinch of salt and the oil and mix in to incorporate well. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, untill you have a smooth, compact elastic ball. Add a little more flour or water if necessary. put the dough into a lightly floured bowl, cover with a cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place for about an hour and a half, or until it has doubled in size.
Dust the work surface lightly with flour. Create and round shape loaf and place it on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes until it rises.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Put the bread into the oven and bake for 40 minutes until lightly golden and crusty.
Tip* water must be tepid, the success of the bread largely depends on temperatures that should never be extreme.