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Interesting facts about 'horn' bread

November 30, 2008
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I saw your great article on "horn" bread and thought you might like to know a few more facts about it. ("Recipe's past a slice of life," Nov. 16.)

I am Marty Balboni from the Springfield (actually it's Agawam) bakery you mentioned. My grandfather, Celeste, and his brother Raffaello founded the bakery when they came over from a little village near Cento in 1912 - that is where the recipe comes from. Celeste's three sons - Adolpho, Fernando, and Carlo (my dad) - carried it on until my dad retired in 1967. His three sons (Ron, Ken, and I) continued it on weekends only for many years. Ron and I retired, and Ken and his wife, Mae, have kept it going; and their son Marco is now in the business full time. Here is a little more info:

1. The shape of the bread has been modified over the years. In Italy, which I visited a few years ago, they still make it the "old" way. The four "horns" are much longer (about eight inches each) and are in a tapered shape curved into an arc. If you hold the loaf sideways, it looks like two sets of horns attached to each other - thus the name "corno" ("horn" in Italian). Over the years, the horns have become more stout due to the packaging problem encountered on store shelves. The horns would easily break off of they were too long.

2. The Italians of my father's and grandfather's generation always called it "corno" bread, but as time passed, the name informally changed to "star" bread because our new American customers had trouble with the pronunciation. We call it "star bread" today.

3. I know of the Plymouth Balbonis and, in fact, once stopped in the bakery many years ago. We are not related, but from the same area in Italy. Balbonis abound there.

4. The recipe given in your paper is missing an ingredient and an important processing step - but my lips are sealed!

Marty Balboni
Agawam

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