Sicilian Semolina Bread

  • Originally posted by Jeannie in Sept 2003 WFD

    SICILIAN SEMOLINA BREAD

    This is a very rustic peasant bread. It's not a high light and fluffy loaf. It's dense, great with soup or Italian tomato salad, or panzanella salad. It's a great dipping bread in flavored good quality olive oil. It will make 3 small loaves.

    Be sure you have all the ingredients before you start. Semolina flour is a must. Do not substitute ingredients. Follow instructions as written. This bread is made over 3 days. It's unconventional in that the rising is delayed and dough is refrigerated.
    An instant read thermometer is essential!

    Day 1: Make the Biga

    1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour ( I use King Arthur)
    1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached bread flour ( I use King Arthur Bread Flour)
    3/4 teaspoon (.19 ounce) salt
    1/2 teaspoon (.055 ounce) instant yeast ( I use SAF Perfect Rise)
    3/4 cup to 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespns ( 6 to 7 ounces) water ( I use bottled water) at room temperature

    1. Stir together the flours, salt and yeast in a 4 qt bowl ( or in the bowl of an electric mixer).
    Add 3/4 cup of the water, stirring until everything comes together and makes a course ball (or mix on low speed for 1 minute with a paddle attachment). Adjust the flour or water according to need, so that the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff. ( It's easier to err on the side of sticky, as you can adjust easier during kneading. It is harder to add water once the dough firms up)

    2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for 4 to 6 minutes (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook for 4 minutes), or until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. The internal temperature should be 77 - 81 degrees F.

    3 Lightly oil a bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour, or until it swells to about 1 1/2 times it's original size.

    4. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it lightly to degas, and return to the bowl, covering with plastic wrap . Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. You can keep this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it in an airtight plastic bag for up to 3 months.

    This is the end of Day 1... not so bad, eh?
    ~~~~~
    DAY 2...MIXING THE DOUGH

    All the dough in the refrigerator ( the Biga)
    1 3/4 cups ( 8 ounces) unbleached bread flour ( I use the King Arthur Bread Flour)
    1/ 3/4 cups (8 ounces) semolina flour ( I use Bob's Red Mill - found in my grocery store)
    1 1/4 teaspoons (31 ounces) salt
    1 1/4 teaspoons (.14 ounces) instant yeast ( I use SAF Perfect Rise)
    2 Tablespoons ( 1 ounce) olive oil
    1 Tablespoon (.75 ounce) honey
    1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups ( 10 to 12 ounces) water, lukewarm ( 90-100 degrees F)
    Sesame seeds for the topping
    Corn meal for sprinkling
    Parchment paper

    1. Remove the Biga from the refrigerator at least one hour before making the dough to take off the chill. On a floured board, cut it into 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for an hour to take out the chill.

    2. Stir together the flour, semolina salt and yeast. in a 4 quart bowl ( or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the all the biga, ( the cut up dough), the oil, honey and 1 1/4 cup warm water. Stir with a large spoon until the dough forms a ball ( or mix on low speed with a paddle attachment). If the dough seems too stiff, dribble in 1 teaspoon at a time until all the flour is gathered and the dough feels soft and pliable. If the dough seems sticky, don't worry, you can adjust the flour while kneading or mixing.

    3. Sprinkle bread flour on the counter or pastry board, transfer the dough to the counter and knead ( or mix on medium-low speed with dough hook. *if you have a KitchenAid ...that would be no higher than 4* Add flour as needed sprinkling a small amount at a time to make a smooth dough that is tacky but not sticky, that has the same pliability ans suppleness as French bread dough. Knead about 10 minutes or ( 6 to 8 minutes in the mixer). The dough should measure 77 to 81 degrees F. ( I told ya you needed an instant read thermometer..hehee).
    Form the dough in a ball, lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil, transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

    4. Let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours or until double in bulk.

    SHAPING THE DOUGH: ( hang in there we are almost done!)

    Gently divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.
    With your hands, roll the dough into a 24 inch log taking care to degas the dough as little as possible. Then working from each end simultaneously, , coil the dough toward the center, forming an "S" shape. Place on a parchment lined 15x 10 baking pan. Repeat with the other two pieces of dough. Only 2 will fit on this pan. Put the other on another pan. Or you can put them in individual pans.
    Mist the loaves with water, and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top of each loaf. Then mist the tops with PAM and place the pan/s in a food grade plastic bag or cover loosely with plastic wrap.

    6. Place the pan/s in the refrigerator over night.

    * Horray if you made it this far! The easy part is tomorrow!*

    DAY THREE: ( It has finally arrived!)

    1. Remove the pans from the refrigerator, and determine whether the loaves have risen enough to bake or if they need additional proofing time. Gently poke the dough. If it springs back quickly, leave the pan/s out, still covered, for a couple of hours or until it wakes up and rises more. The dough should stay dimpled when poked., and the loaves should be twice as large as when first shaped.

    2. Prepare the oven for hearth baking ....place a heavy cake pan on the floor of the oven. This will be your steam pan. You do not need a baking stone. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. with the oven rack in the middle shelf position.

    3. Uncover the bread dough and place the pan in the oven, and immediately add 1 1/2 cups boiling water to the pan and close the door. After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water (BEING CAREFUL NOT TO SPRAY THE LIGHT OR THE GLASS OVEN DOOR) or it will crack.
    Close the door....wait 30 seconds, spray again,...wait 30 seconds and spray again. Do not spray the bread. After the third spray lower the oven heat to 450 degrees and bake for about 15 minutes.

    Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking for another 15 min. If the loaves are touching, gently separate them. Continue baking another 15 minutes or until the loaves are a rich golden brown all over. The internal temperature of the bread should register 200 to 205 degrees F. ( Just push the thermometer in the middle of the highest peak of the bread and watch it rise)

    Remove the pan/s from the oven, and transfer loaves to a cooling rack. Cool for at least 1 hour, before slicing......Cut slices into thick 3/4 inch slices.