Thursday, 9 December 2010

Semolina Bread (Pane Siciliano): Mellow Bakers

Semolina Bread is one of the breads we’re making for the Mellow Bakers group this month.  I like Semolina Bread especially Pane Siciliano so I was all over this one. I had the dough made and the loaves shaped and placed in the refrigerator overnight to retard.  Then, I went to the Mellow Bakers’ forum to read what the other bakers had to say about the bread and realized I had made the wrong bread. I was supposed to make Semolina Bread with a soaker and fennel seed.  Oops!  You know what that means?  I’ll just have to make it again.  She says with a smile. ;)

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this one and so can you…

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I really enjoyed the BBA Pane Siciliano so when I saw that the formulas were similar, I decided to shape and bake the Mellow Bakers’ Semolina Bread the same way we did the BBA Pane Siciliano.  The main difference is that the BBA version utilizes a Pate Fermentee of bread flour and all-purpose flour; whereas Hamelman’s version uses a sponge made with semolina (durum flour) and bread flour.  The BBA version consists of 40 percent semolina flour and 60 percent high-gluten or bread flour.  Hamelman’s version consists of 50% semolina flour and 50% bread flour.

Semolina Bread (Pane Siciliano)

Adapted from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman and the Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Makes: 3 loaves



  • 1 1/2 cups (6.4 oz.) Semolina flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (6.4 oz.) Bread flour
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (10 to 12 oz.)lukewarm water (90 degrees to 100 degrees F)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (.13 oz.) instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon (.06 oz.) sugar

Final Dough:

  • 2 1/8 (9.6 oz.) cups Semolina flour
  • 2 1/8 (9.6 oz.) cups Bread flour
  • 1 1/2 to 1 5/8 cups (12 to 13.4 oz.) water
  • 1 tablespoon (.6 oz.) salt
  • 3 tablespoons (1.6 oz.) olive oil
  • All of the sponge




Mix the semolina flour, bread flour, water, yeast, and sugar in the mixer until evenly incorporated.  The sponge should be fairly loose.  My sponge wasn’t loose so I added more water.  I ended up using about 1 1/2 cups of water rather than the 1 1/8 cups that the original formula suggested. 

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The sponge ripens in a short time so you need to use warm water to bring the temperature to 78 to 80 degrees F.  Let the sponge ripen for 1 1/4 hours.  It should be on the verge of collapse at this point.

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Mix all of the ingredients, including the sponge in a spiral mixer until all of the ingredients have been incorporated. The dough should be of medium consistency, with good dough strength and gluten development.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it ferment for 1 1/2 hours.

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Fold the dough after 45 minutes of bulk fermentation.

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Gently divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces. 

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Shape as for baguettes.  To do this, you first shape them into batards.

Gently pat the dough into a rectangle. 

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Without degassing the piece of dough, fold the bottom third of dough, letter style, up to the center and press to seal, creating surface tension on the outer edge.

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Fold the remaining dough over the top and use the edge of your hand to seal the seam closed and to increase the surface tension all over.

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Set the batards aside to rest for further shaping.

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Working from the center of the loaf and moving to the outside edges, gently but firmly rock and roll out the dough to extend each piece to about 24 inches in length  taking care to degas the dough as little as possible.

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Working from each end simultaneously, coil the dough toward the center, forming an S shape.

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Line a sheet pan with baking parchment and sprinkle some semolina flour on the baking parchment.  Place each loaf on the pan. Mist the loaves with water and sprinkle sesame seeds on the top of each loaf.  

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Then mist the tops with vegetable spray oil and place the pans in a food-grade plastic bag or loosely cover with plastic wrap.

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Place the pans in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, remove the pans from the refrigerator and let them warm up to room temperature.  It was really cold in my house so this part took awhile.  I got busy doing other things so I let them proof a bit too much.  They were huge!

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Prepare the oven for hearth baking by placing a baking stone on the middle rack and a steam pan underneath.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.  You actually don’t need to bake this bread on the baking stone, you can bake it on the baking sheet with just the steam pan underneath if you prefer.  I usually bake this bread that way, but this time, I opted to bake it on the stone.

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After you place the loaves in the oven, pour 1 cup hot water into the steam pan and close the door.  After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water and close the door.  Repeat twice more at 30-second intervals.  After the final spray, lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and bake for about 15 minutes.  If the loaves are touching, gently separate them.

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Rotate the pan(s) 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the loaves are a rich golden brown all over.  If there are still light or white sections of the dough, extend the baking time for a few extra minutes to maximize color and flavor.

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Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.  Cool for at least 45 minutes before serving. 

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This bread has a delicious, toasty flavor due to the sesame seeds. It’s really good!  I like this 50/50 version but I also like the BBA 40/60 version.  Not sure which one I like better.  My taste tester couldn’t decide either.  He just said this one tastes delicious!  I agree.

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Mellow Bakers was hosted by Paul at Yumarama. We baked breads from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman.


Happy Baking!

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