Bibanesi by Jacopo Fo

Magic bread

Why bibanesi are so good, crisp, crumbly and light?

The delicious smell of bread, real baked bread, isn’t something you smell every day; and if you add a little Italian extra virgin olive oil, with some choice natural ingredients, it becomes a truly unique fragrance.
This is the story of Bibanesi.

But what exactly are Bibanesi? What’s the secret?

Bibanesi aren’t just made of wheat flour, water, extra virgin olive oil, malt, lard and salt; they go through a special process that makes them a real one-of-a-kind.

Long, slow, natural rising

The flour and water are mixed together with a little natural yeast to obtain sourdough, which is then left at room temperature for at least one day. The yeast turns the sourdough into a starter. It’s a process which is similar to that used to make yogurt: hundreds of thousands of microorganisms make the dough rise.
Special flour is used to make Bibanesi so good and crunchy. Manitoba flour was chosen after trying many different ones. This is made from grain that’s grown in the Manitoba region of Canada. But why Canada, on the other side of the world? Because this grain needs a very special climate and soil to develop and grow to its best. So the grain is shipped over the ocean to Italy in huge containers.
This flour has one very special characteristic: it’s rich in gluten. The structure of gluten consists of thin, elastic filaments, interwoven with each other. This gluten mesh captures carbon dioxide, a gas produced when dough rises. Millions of microscopic Co2 bubbles make the gluten mesh swell as if it was a balloon being inflated. These bubbles make the dough rise.
The sourdough is mixed with more flour, extra virgin olive oil, water, lard, salt and malt in the mixer. This produces a soft, smooth dough in the form of a long “snake”, which moves slowly through a damp, warm rising chamber.

The dough and how it’s processed

When the dough comes out of the chamber, it’s soft and easy to work. At this point it’s kneaded and stretched by hand, because this can only be done by hand, caressing the dough with a loving “touch”.
It just wouldn’t be the same if this was done by a machine. In fact, mechanical pressure would “break down” the gluten, breaking the thin filaments and letting most of the Co2 bubbles escape.
It’s important to knead the dough softly and lovingly by hand. This is why every one of the 4 million Bibanesi produced every day are different and every Bibanese becomes a unique bread-stick with many others just like it, but none are exactly the same.


At this point the Bibanesi go into a new rising chamber, and then on to the oven. There are many Bibanesi in the oven, and each one is unique: you’ll find a really tiny one and also a rather fat one. But what’s really important is that they all come out of the oven well cooked. They bake for almost one hour, which is quite a long time: crackers for example, only take 4 minutes!
The water evaporates slowly as they bake, and the Bibanesi turn into crunchy, delicious bread sticks, to munch on merrily with your friends.

The secret of oil

The secret of that delicious Bibanesi taste lies in one very special ingredient: Italian extra virgin olive oil made in Apulia. This oil comes from the Coratina olive tree, and it’s rich in precious substances, vital for our health. These include antioxidants that help keep our cells young. A lot of oil is used, and it’s checked and analysed to make sure it’s always the best quality, giving Bibanesi their very special flavour. But it’s not just the oil, all the ingredients are chosen with great care and attention. Bibanesi bread sticks are fine, genuine bread, containing no preservative or additives. Then they’re packed in bags to keep them fresh, just as you’ll find the Bibanesi in your local shop or supermarket. But the biggest secret of the magical delicious taste of Bibanesi is the passion we put into our work!

The illustrated book by Jacopo Fo