The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from Rome (Italy) and ... Yeast Water, Sourdough, WHAT ABOUT IT?!

Riccardo85's picture

Hello from Rome (Italy) and ... Yeast Water, Sourdough, WHAT ABOUT IT?!

Hello everybody,

I am new to this and I came to this forum thanks to a Friend who really made me curious about words like "sourdough", "yeast water" - by a rapid look to the awesome recipe (like this) I found.

I don't have much experience in baking Bread - even if I come from a town known all over Italy for its wood-oven cooked bread - but I have some experience with baking Pizza at home (getting this "natural yeast" from the local pizza-maker).

I would like to know more about this process which doesn't involve buying yeast, but just using the one naturally present in the flour, water, air?! Where can I start getting some information about it? This seems the right place to ask ... ;)



dabrownman's picture

Product Description

The Protected Geographical Indication Homemade bread of Genzano refers to the bakery product made from high quality flour type 0 or 00, yeast, salt, water and wheat bran. The finished product, very light, it has the classic shape loaf or round loaf with dark crust and fine, soft crumb and strong look, the scent of corn.

Production area

The production area of Homemade Bread Genzano IGP is limited to the territory of the town of Genzano di Roma, in the Province of Rome in the Lazio region. Product Features

 The Protected Geographical Indication Homemade bread of Genzano is reserved for the product that has the following characteristics:    • weight from 0.5 to 2.5 kg;   • crust of dark color, the thickness of about 3 mm;   • crumb of ivory-white color;   • scent reminiscent of genuine grain and barns;   • savory;   • moisture content not exceeding 33.7%;   • specific weight equal to 0.23 kg/dm3.  

Google translation from Italian Wikipeia

dabrownman's picture

Type in sourdough starter, or starter or yeast water and click the search button.  You will find the various different ways to make starters to leaven bread.  Welcome to TFL from Arizona!  If it is bread related , and you can't find it here, it may not exist an thanks for your link too.  Have learned some thing new today about your hometown famous bread!  Thanks.

EricD's picture

Ciao Riccardo, 

In Italy, sourdough is known as Lievito Madre. Most pizzaioli in Italy don't use it anymore. They usually use compressed fresh yeast, called lievito di birra. An exception is pizza in pala alla Romana in your area. Most good pizzerie that make this type of pizza use lievito madre, or sourdough in English.

As for bread, I think that there are still a lot of bakeries which use sourdough in Italy, but I think it is unfortunately less common than bread using fresh compressed yeast or dry yeast. 

If you don't want to start your own sourdough, try asking a pizzeria or panificio that uses lievito madre. They can probably give you a piece and also explain a good way to maintain it. If you want to make your own, there are a lot of great threads you can find on this site for doing so. A lot of my beast bread results have also come from recipes found on this site, a phenomenal resource for professionals and amateurs alike!



Riccardo85's picture

Thank you (all) for the clarification(s) - I had a little confusion with the English vocabulary at first, now everything is clear!

Yes, many Pizzerie here use "fresh yeast" - aka "lievito di birra" - only some use "sourdough" - aka "pasta madre"  ...

I use the former for the Pizza I make at home, because I find it better than the one in powder, activated by warm water and sugar.

That one, the "fresh yeast", stored at the bottom of my fridge, it lasts about a month (or a little less) and I use very little amount for my 48h-raised Pizza-dough.

What I make, in fact, it is very much similar to "Pizza Romana", more "dry", way thinner (I love it that way) and more crunchy than "Pizza Napoletana".


I look forward to trying my own Yeast Water Starter, as well as my own Sourdough Starter ... eventually I will use them for my Pizza as well, I'm very curious!

"Unfortunately" I'm a Computer Engineer just moving to another apartment, but as soon as I have some time I will definitely try to make some dough ehEh!!


I must admit I thought about looking for Italian resources only after having posted here and this community seems so active and nice and full of recipes ...

About "Casa del Cibo", I am not sure it's the same thing, probably not, but I found this, which can be nice as a "summary", for beginners - I might offer to translate it?!

The organization seems called "Comunità del Cibo" or "Terra Madre" - with all these names I get confused too, but the material looks very nice, if you want to have a look?

This is the link: ...  just click to go to the DOWNLOAD section, where one can also find the schema I mentioned before.

LindyD's picture

Great text and photos should get you on your way.

Welcome to TFL. 


JeremyCherfas's picture

Your English is much better than my Italian, so I will say that I got my Tuscan pasta madre from these people: Casa del Cibo. They organize regular courses, and not only in Rome. I can send you some pasta madre if you want, and a copy of the instructions I have from Casa del Cibo.


rjerden's picture

Try this link: . It's run by a buddy of mine Vittorio Viarengo and the bread and pizza video recipes are in Italian. (There are some recipes in English as well) He also has a recipe for lievito naturale.

Sei fortunato ad essere un abitante di Genzano. Ti invidio il pane che trovi in paese tuo. Se riesci a farlo, chiedi un pezzo di pasta madre da un panifcio di Genzano. Sara' senz'altro superiore ad una pasta madre nuova.




Riccardo85's picture

WOW, I knew - because I had watched a couple of video on YouTube - and its amazing recipes

... I didn't know your buddy was also a software expert at VMWare!!


Sure in the next days I will go around bakeries in Genzano ... I will try other pizza-restaurants too, thanks for the piece of advice!

EricD's picture

For a pizza recipe book in Italian that also explains all processes and ingredients, you could also try L'Arte della Pizza by Simone Padoan. I learned a lot from that book. I'd recommend it for any pizza enthusiast who can read Italian.

farina22's picture

Tanti anni fa ho lavorato per qualche mese a un piccolo posto a Lariano che faceva un pane veramente buono. Usavamo una madre ma ci sono certi pani che usano invece una biga. Si puo fare la biga la sera prima e poi usarlo il prossimo giorno per fare la pasta per il pane. La biga usa un poco di lievito di birra ma molto meno di una pasta "normale". Ci sono varie tipi di "pre-ferment"--biga, poolish, sponge, sourdough, levain, ecc. Qui al TFL c'e un mondo d'informazione.

Buon divertimento e benvenuto!