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Pane Siciliano

Pane Siciliano is an Italian, well, OK, Sicilian, recipe that is based on using Pane SicilianoSemolina flour, the same flour used to make pasta. We used the coarse grind, and the results were delightful. Next time, we'll use an egg wash to help the Sliced Pane Sicilianosesame seeds stick better and to provide more sheen to the loaf.

This recipe is modified from a recipe in "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart. As usual, we modified it to be a sourdough recipe.

This recipe is, as usual, for two 1 1/2 pound loaves, and will take 3 days to complete.

Start by making a thick sourdough starter at least the night before you want to bake, or as much as three days earlier.
Ingredients:

Volumetric Measure (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage (4)
2 1/4 CupsBread Flour290 Grams100%
1/2 cup + 3 TBSP + 2/3 tspWater170 Grams60%
1/4 tspSalt2.2 Grams.75%
1 TBSP + 2 tspActive Sourdough Starter29 Grams10%

This thick starter is, more or less, a sourdough version of pate fermente, which is a slightly aged dough. The aging gives the bread more, and better, taste.  Mix well, knead, and then cover and allow to rise until almost doubled. Put container in the refrigerator at least overnight, or as long as 3 days.

When you are ready to begin making the Pane Siciliano, remove the thick starter from the refrigerator, cut it into smallish pieces, cover them again, and let them warm for 1 to 2 hours.

The Final Dough -

Ingredients:

Volumetric Measure (Cups)IngredientGramsBaker's Percentage (4)
1 1/2 CupsLukewarm Water
(95 - 100F/ 35 - 38C)
360 Grams54.2%
2 1/2 TBSPLight Olive Oil34 Grams5.1%
1 2/4 tspHoney18 Grams2.7%
All of itThick Sourdough Starter (1)500 Grams74.25%
2 1/3 CupsBread Flour300 Grams45.3%
2 1/8 CupsFine Semolina Flour (2)360 Grams54.7%
1 1/2 tspSalt13.3 Grams1.99%

  1. Please read the instructions for making the thick sourdough starter.  The long rise really helps develop the final flavor.
  2. Semolina flour comes in varying grades.  Using a coarse semolina can impact the bread's rise, so we suggest using a fine semolina flour, often called Semola.  Check Italian food markets and online sources for this.

Method:
Mix the warmed thick starter pieces with thepane siciliano nutrition analysis lukewarm water and mix until smooth. Add salt, olive oil, and honey. Then add semolina flour and bread flour. Knead well. This dough is not a really good candidate for the stretch and fold technique.  If the dough won't come together, you may add as much as 1/4 additional cup of water.

Cover the dough, set aside for several hours, until the dough is just about doubled.

Try not to deflate the dough as you cut it into 2 roughly equal sized pieces, form them into baguettes, and then coil them into the distinctive shape of this bread. To do this, grab each end of the baguette with a hand. Start coiling the dough from the outside to the center, coiling in opposite directions with each hand.

Spray/mist the dough with water, sprinkle with (optional) sesame seeds. The seamen seeds are optional, but really help kick the bread up another notch!  Then spray/mist the dough with oil. Put the loaves on a baking sheet, loosely cover with clingwrap or Saran wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, pull the loaves out of the refrigerator. If they are done, the loaves won't spring back when poked gently. If the loaves spring back, let them continue to rise at room temperature until when poked they retain a dimple. This took about 2 hours here. About an hour before the rise is done, pre-heat the oven to 500F/260C, with a pan on the bottom of the oven. Oven stones or tiles are not needed for this recipe.

I hope you sprinkled the optional sesame seeds on it - there is something really wonderful about toasted sesame seeds, and it really works well with the semolina!

When the oven is hot and the dough is ready, slide the trays in. Pour a cup of hot water into the pan on the bottom of the oven.

Then spray the oven with a plant mister full of water and close the oven door. Thirty seconds later, open the oven door and mist the oven again. Repeat this two more times, then turn the oven down to 450F/230C and let the bread bake for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, turn the bread around 180 degrees so it can brown evenly, and bake another 10 to 15 minutes. When the bread is nice shade of brown, pull it out of the oven, let it cool, and enjoy!

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