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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pane Siciliano - made into sandwich loaf and focaccia

I was still obsessed with semolina/durum flour and I came across another recipe using semolina flour in Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker Apprentice cookbook, Pane Siciliano.

I’ve run out of the (elusive) durum flour I bought over a month ago but I still had about 1 kg of fine semolina, which I would love to use it up. I think the fine semolina that I had wasn’t really the semolina flour but they worked well in the semolina bread recipe that I made (I wouldn’t call it “well”, actually. It was more of “alright”).

Fine semolina on the left and durum flour on the right

This recipe has approximately 30% semolina flour, 66% hydration, high percentage of pate fermentee (pre-fermented dough), and a little bit of olive oil & honey. The bread is traditionally shaped into S shape and covered with sesame seeds on the crust. This recipe was a 3-day built recipe, pate fermentee on the first day, mixing the final dough, shape and retard on the second day, and bake on the third day. The recipe promised a delay gratification for more superior taste.

As I mentioned in other posts that fine semolina was relatively poor at absorbing water, 66% hydration is considered rather wet and sticky dough by itself. Team this up with fine semolina, the dough was highly sticky to shape. It would have been more manageable if it was shaped into sandwich loaf, oblong or round, not the traditional S shape (to get an S shape, the dough was shaped/rolled into baguette shape and both ends were then turned into the centre in a coil-like fashion).

Pane Siciliano Loaf
It was a challenge to shape this sticky dough into S shape. I did manage to bring it together, but I didn’t think that it was nice enough. So, I threw my towel and changed them into a panned sandwich loaf. The bread made good relatively lean sandwich bread. It was good for toast, just good, not great.

As Peter Reinhart suggested that this dough also made a good pizza base, so I spared one third of the dough for the pizza sibling, focaccia.

I made focaccia following  PR’s recipe and instruction. The dough was infused with herb oil (mixture of chopped fresh basil, crushed garlic, chopped fried shallot and olive oil) and baked in a pan. I also sprinkled the cheddar cheese on top half-way through the bake.

Herb oil - mixture of fresh herb, garlic and olive oil

The focaccia was lovely. It had a nice creamy taste of semolina and subtle sweetness of honey. The herb oil smelled simply sensational. I liked the bread/focaccia but I didn't really love them. It was a nice change from normal wheat sandwich bread but it wasn't something I would be craving for more.

For recipes, you can follow below links:

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