Sunday, November 22, 2009

BBA Challenge Bread #23—Pane Siciliano

Yay! Another fun bread shape—Pane Siciliano, a three day, enriched bread made with half bread flour and half semolina flour, a bit of olive oil and a touch of honey. It's as good as it sounds!

I'm baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with 200+ other amateur bakers. Want to join in the madness, or just learn more about this semi-crazy undertaking? Check out the following links:

Yep, this is a three-day bread. It can be a two-day bread if you choose to bake the same day as shaping, but PR tells us that the overnight stay in the fridge add so much to the taste that it's worth the wait.

Here's a look at the process:
PaneSiciliano-1 start
No pics of Day One. This is the middle of Day Two. Day One is mixing up pate fermentée, a pre-ferment of all-pourpose and bread flours, yeast, salt and water. It hangs out in the fridge overnight. Day Two combines the pate fermentée with more bread flour, semolina flour, salt, yeast, some olive oil, a touch of honey and lukewarm water. That ferments for about 2 hours until doubled. Next comes shaping.

PaneSiciliano-2 divide
First, divide the dough into three equal pieces.

PaneSiciliano-3 baguette
Each piece is shaped into a 24-inch baguette.

PaneSiciliano-5 rolling more
Then rolled in opposite directions from both ends, meeting at the center.

PaneSiciliano-6 shaped

PaneSiciliano-7 2 on pan

While I was shaping these, I realized that I must have made the dough too slack. That or I let it rise too long on the ferment. It didn't want to hold the baguette shape and kind of mushed together when I rolled it instead of looking like a rope. But there wasn't anything I could do about it then, so I just kept going. I knew all 3 wouldn't fit on one pan, so the third went on it's own. Practice didn't make perfect, but it did help, since the third loaf looked a lot better than the first two.

PaneSiciliano-8 final shaped
PaneSiciliano-9 final seeded
The loaves are misted with water, sprinkled with sesame seeds, then covered and put in the fridge overnight.

PaneSiciliano-10 2 proofed
PaneSiciliano-11 final proofed

I baked this almost a month ago, so I'm having a hard time remember the whole time-line, but I do know that I shaped these on Sunday evening, knowing I wouldn't get to bake them until the following evening. So after 24 hours, they got pretty big!

PaneSiciliano-12 done
These "hearth bake" which usually means me setting off the smoke alarm. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to set up a fan before the smoke had a chance to make it to the alarm, so they baked alarm free and hit the requisite internal temperature after about 30 minutes.

The parchment paper box says it's oven safe up to 420°F. Uhhh, it's acutally good until about 500°F, thank goodness!
The semolina flour used to dust the parchment turned to charcoal!

Aren't they pretty! I love this shape, and they seemed to hold up nicely, despite the imperfect shaping and extra long refrigerator stay.

One of the things I was really happy with was the lovely crust. In the intro to the recipe, PR mentions the "beautiful blistered crust" and I was thrilled to see that on mine.

And the crumb was great. Not quite what is shown in the book, but still nice!

And the most important thing — it tasted wonderful. The semolina flour was a nice change of taste and texture. Soft without being gummy, flavorful crust that didn't turn tough or rock hard. A lovely looking bread that delivers on taste. A win-win.

p.s. The crumb shot was taken as the sun was almost completely set. The focus assist light on my camera had a heck of a time, but I wanted to used natural light, as little as there was. And this was pre-daylight savings. Thank goodness for tripods, RAW format and Photoshop. I think the exposure was about 5 seconds!


  1. Your loaves look wonderful! I love breads made with semolina. These loaves tasted great and the dough was so easy to work with. Great job!

  2. Wow. What beautiful loaves of bread! Shaping yeast breads gives me more anxiety than any other part of the process, and that's the whole reason I haven't made this bread yet. Your pictures are an inspiration. Maybe I'll try it soon!

  3. Cathy- Thank you! I love working with bread dough. It never ceases to amaze me how silky and pliable a bunch of flour, water and some yeast, can become.

    Allison - Go for it! Shaping is the best part. Wait-the second best part. Eating is the best. :) I try to remind myself that I'm probably not going to get it perfect the first time, but it's fun trying.

  4. How pretty! Lovely crumb shot~ I'm still working on my focus macro shots. Can't wait to start this bread!

  5. You are a pro at this bread baking project-everything you have made so far looks perfect! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  6. I find myself wondering when parchment paper will ignite. They look absolutely beautiful, especially the crumb shot

  7. Isn't shooting in RAW just the best? I still feel like a magician anytime i am able to correct an exposure so perfectly!

    Gorgeous blistered crust. I think your shaping was just perfect. You are way smarter than me. I put all 3 loaves on the same baking sheet and they grew together overnight in the fridge. What was i thinking?

  8. Frieda- Thanks! I think you're really going to like it.

    Robin Sue- Thank you! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    Anne Marie (Rosemary & Garlic) - I'm always a bit nervous when I slide the parchment paper on the super hot stone!

    Cindy (Salt & Serenity) - I *heart* RAW! It never ceases to amaze me how it can save my arse on so many shots! Thanks for the compliments. I think it might be after reading your post that I figured splitting up the loaves would be a good idea. And I'm taking your Panettone lesson to heart and keeping it in mind when I finally get around to baking mine. :)

  9. Your loaves look nice. And I do agree on the flavor: mine tasted wonderful, too.


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