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Michetta is a type of bread common in Italy. Some say that the bread is one of the most affordable breads in the country, and one of the simplest to make. In taste, it can resemble that of both a doughnut and a white bread, both of which have some sweetness. In terms of appearance, the Italian bread is especially distinguished by its five-pointed shape that can make it look like either a star or a flower. The bread is also called a “rosetta,” referring to its rosette-like shape.
There are different accounts that point to the history of the michetta. One version tells of the bread named the “Kaisersemmel,” introduced in Lombardy by the Austrians during their conquest in Italy. The bread, however, quickly became stale because Milan, where the bread was being baked, was so humid. Innovative bakers came up with a solution to hollow out the bread, resulting in a fresher, sweeter, and softer version of the Kaisersemmel that became the rosetta. The word “michetta” is derived from the Lombard word “micca,” meaning “crumb."
Another local account tells of a 14th-century tradition in an Italian municipality called the Dolceaqua, where the Marquis required every bride to sleep with him on her wedding night. A newly-wed named Lucrezia refused to comply to the tradition and led the Marquis to imprison her and have her executed. Upon hearing this, the people of Dolceaqua led a revolt against the Marquis, forcing him to revoke the tradition. In honor of the newly-found liberation, some women baked a sweet bread shaped like a flower, a metaphor for the female genitalia. Thus, the michetta was invented.
Michetta contains many common ingredients found in other breads, such as flour, eggs, sugar, and yeast. Many recipes recommend using warm water to assist the yeast in making the bread rise. For a sweeter and a more distinct flavor, an amount of Marsala wine can also be added in the dough. Before baking, it is always important to allow the dough to rise first by leaving it covered for at least an hour.
To create the flower shape of the bread, the dough is shaped first into a ball, and the baker manually forms the five knobs and another knob at the middle. In some recipes, the shape is produced by creating five shallow slices along the borders of the balled dough. The michetta can be egg-brushed to have that shiny finish, or it can also have a sugar dusting to make it look more appetizing.
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