Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pane Siciliano - We Knead to Bake 24

I am there, huffing and puffing, I have finally caught up with members of the We Knead to Bake - Bread Baking  Group who have baked all the breads thus far. However irregular, I am happy that I have been able to bake along and post all the 25 breads along with Aparna.
The Pane Siciliano is a Sicilian Sesame seeded semolina bread. This was the choice for January 2015.
As a brief description to this bread, I reproduce here Aparna's words:
On the 13th of December, feasts are held in Sicily and around the world celebrating the bravery of Santa Lucia. One way is by baking a special bread which is known as Pane Siciliano. What is unusual about this bread is that it is baked with semolina. In Sicily (and Italy) the semolina they use for this breadis a specific grind of durum wheat called 'semolina di grano duro rimacinato' or just 'rimacinato', which translates to 'ground again'. This refers to semolina which is ground once more to break the coarser grain into finer flour.
There are recipes to make this bread in a shorter time. Traditionally,it is made using a pre-ferment which the locals call 'cresciuta' which gives a more flavourful loaf. The Pane Siciliano is generally shaped in two shapes, the 'Occhi di Santa Lucia'and the Mafalda. The former means 'Eyes of Santa Lucia', while the latter, which is shaped as a snake that has its tail over its body, refers to 'snake'. We chose to make this latter one.If you would like to do the Occhi di Santa Lucia, please refer to an earlier post at Aparna's blog.
There is a video of  Mary Ann Esposito making the Pane Siciliano with Peter Reinhart which is quite helpful.

Pane Siciliano (Sicilian Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread)
( Adapted from Ciao Italia http://www.ciaoitalia.com/seasons/19/1919/sicilian-bread )


Recipe makes a medium loaf that will suffice 4 to 5 people
For the Cresciuta (Biga/ Pre-ferment)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup all purpose flour

For the dough:
1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp honey
All of the prepared cresciuta
2 to 21/2 cups fine durum wheat semolina (or a ground flour from this semolina, that I have used)
1/2 teaspoon vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

a little water for brushing on the bread
1/8 cup sesame seeds

The night before baking the bread or at least 4 hours prior to baking, prepare the cresciuta.
Dissolve the yeast listed there in the lukewarm water and set aside for a few minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.
Then add the all purpose flour to it and mix with a fork. The resultant mix will be wet and stringy.
Leave the cresciuta to stand for a minimum 4 hours or overnight.
Fine grain durum wheat semolina is available in my local store.
I powdered the durum wheat semolina by running in my spice mixer until very fine, sieved it and used for this bread.
Now to make the dough, dissolve the 1/2 teaspoon yeast in lukewarm water mixed with the honey.
Mix the salt and the vital wheat gluten to the flour.
Once the yeast has risen, add the cresciuta to it and mix well. Add initially 2 cups of semolina flour a to this and form a pancake batter like loose dough.
Knead it well until it forms a soft and smooth ball of dough. Add as much more flour from the rest of the 1/2 cup to achieve this dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over in the oil to coat, cover loosely and allow it to double in volume. This may take about an hour and a half.
Deflate the dough and turn it on to the work surface.
Roll the dough in a cylindrical rope that is about 30 inches long.
Place it on a baking tray that has been lined with a baking sheet.
Place the rope on the tray, and shape it like a wriggling snake leaving about 7" of the dough for the tail.
Now bring the tail over the shaped 'body' of the snake and let it rest on top of the body. Do not tuck it underneath.
Loosely cover this shaped dough and let it stand a second rise for 2 hours again until doubled.

Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees C. Place another baking tray upside down in the oven on top of which you may be able to place the tray with the dough.
Brush some water on the top of the bread and sprinkle sesame seeds.
Bake for 30 minutes until bread is brown and hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack.

Serve with any soup of your choice.I served this with my almond carrot soup.
There are more mafaldas and ochchis just a click away from here to this post in Aparna's My Diverse Kitchen. Enjoy the recipes there.

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