This month we baked  Pane Siciliano – Sicilian Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread for Aparna’s We Knead To Bake.
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 Pan Siciliano. What is
unusual about this bread is that it is baked with semolina ( what we know in
India as rava/ sooji). In Sicily (and Italy), the semolina they use for this
bread is a specific grind of durum wheat called “semola di grano duro
rimacinato” or just “rimacinato”, which translates as ‘ground again’. This
refers to semolina which is ground once more to break the coarser grain into finer
flour.
If you can find rimancinato, then go ahead
and use that. Otherwise use the finest grind semolina you can find.In India, there’s variety of semolina that is very fine (still
grainy) that’s used for making laddoos, halwa and batters. Otherwise, just run
the semolina you have in the chutney jar of your mixer-grinder or coffee
grinder till it’s fine.I did just that!
Though there are a lot of recipes for
making this bread in a shorter time, traditionally, this bread is made with a
pre-ferment which the Sicilians/ Italians call “cresciuta”. This produces a
more flavourful loaf of bread and isn’t all that much more work. This recipe
calls for gluten which improves the texture of the loaf. I left this one out as I could not find it here.
The Pane Siciliano is generally shaped into
one of two shapes – the “Occhi di Santa Lucia” meaning the “Eyes of St.Lucia”
or the “Mafalda” meaning “Snake”. I chose the “mafalda” because I had earlier
baked St. Lucia rolls in the “occhi” shape, and I had never tried shaping my
bread into a snake!
I made the  Occhi di Santa Lucia or a
scroll shaped loaf of bread,

[This video of Mary Ann Esposito making the
Pane Siciliano with Peter Reinhart is quite helpful – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX44EtUr19o]
Pane
Siciliano (Sicilian Sesame Seeded Semolina Bread)
Ingredients:
For
the Cresciuta (Biga/ Pate Fermentee): 
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
For
the Dough: 

All the prepared Cresciuta 
2 to 2 1/2 cups fine durum semolina flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast

1 cup lukewarm water (110° to 115°F)
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp vital wheat gluten – optional.I did not use.
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
A little water for brushing on the bread
1/8 cup sesame seeds
Method:
First make the Cresciuta:
Dissolve the
yeast in the warm water in a small bowl and stand it aside for about 10 minutes
till it is frothy. Stir in the flour with a fork and loosely cover the bowl.
This mixture should be a little wet/ stringy. 
Leave it in a slightly warm place for at least 4 hours, preferably
overnight. 

 The next morning, mix the dough for the
bread. In a large bowl take 2 cups of semolina ,yeast ,honey,cresciuta.,oil


Add water and mix to form a dough. Add additional flour a little
at a time and knead well until you have a soft and smooth ball of dough that is
just short of sticky.I used just a handful extra semolina.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl,
turn it to coat well, then loosely cover and let the dough rise till about
double in volume. This should take about 1 1/2 hours.Deflate the dough
 

Divide into 4 pieces.Roll  each 
into a “rope” and shape as shown in the pics.

Transfer to a baking tray.Loosely cover and let the shaped dough rise
for 2 hours till almost double in size. Lightly brush the top of the dough with
water and then sprinkle the sesame seeds over this pressing them in lightly
with your fingers. And that is Lil Dude helping me 🙂

Pre-heat your oven to 190C (375F) with an
baking tray placed upside down in it. Place your baking tray with the dough on
the hot tray and bake for about 30 minutes until the bread is brown and done,
and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.Cool on a rack completely before slicing.

This recipe makes 4 small ‘loaves’. 

Bon Appetit…

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