Ricco d’olio

Ark of taste
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The rich oil cake, ‘u ricchddugghj in dialect, is one of the few sweet preparations typical of Matera. It is made by recovering leftover bread dough and enriching it with plenty of extra virgin olive oil and sugar. It is a kind of focaccia with a circular shape, about 50 cm in diameter and about 15 cm high. Obviously, the weight and size vary because it is used to recover leftover bread dough. Its colour is golden yellow on the surface and its texture is very soft. Its smell is very similar to bread from which it differs in taste due to the abundant presence of oil and sugar. This preparation combines the fundamental elements of the Matera area: bread dough, a ubiquitous element on local tables, and oil, which was used to bake the focaccia without allowing it to stick to the pan and to dissolve the sugar, which was a not very common sweetener in place of which honey was often used.
Traditionally, the oil-rich focaccia was prepared on sporadic occasions: when there was some leftover bread dough or for a particular occasion. It is therefore a very important product for Matera culture that testifies to the importance of recovering leftovers and the idea that wasting food, especially bread, was to be considered a sacrilege. The leftovers were therefore skilfully recovered and turned into a simple but tasty cake. The dough was rolled out to create a flattened, circular shape and enriched with lots of oil. It was then taken to the communal oven where it was baked together with the various loaves of bread kneaded for the family. While its preparation was left to the women, its baking was entrusted to the baker.
Today its production is very limited. It can still be found in some bakeries in the city, possibly on request. However, it is a product that requires more attention, since it is deeply rooted in the Matera tradition and is one of the few sweet preparations of this area. Above all, it is a product that is now rarely known and there is therefore the risk of losing it.

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Other info


Bread and baked goods

Cakes, pastries and sweets

Nominated by:Emanuele Bruno