There was a time I believed semolina /rava was a thing used only in South India. I was surprised to know that semolina is also used in other parts of India. Doubly surprised to know its existence outside India as well. Semolina made by milling the grains usually wheat is known under various names worldwide and used across continents for sweet and savoury dishes. I too have tried few international semolina dishes. But a bread made mostly of semolina is something I have rarely heard. Mix of semolina with majorly all purpose flour that is the common norm isn't it?
So when Aparna suggested Pane Siciliano for this months We Knead to Bake. I definitely wanted to see how the bread turns out.
Pane siciliano is a semolina based bread from Sicily which is traditionally baked on December 13th every year to celebrate the bravery of St. Lucia. There are several versions or recipes for this but the one given below uses a biga/crescuita which inturns gives it a good texture and taste.
Cresciuta/Biga/ Pate Fermentee :
Water: 4 tbsp lukewarm
Instant Yeast: 1/4 tsp
All Purpose Flour: 1/4 cup
Warm Water: 1 cup
Honey: 2 tsp
Instant Yeast: 1/2 tsp
All the prepared biga
Vital Wheat Gluten: 1/2 tsp
Semolina Flour: :2 to 2.75 cups
Salt: 1 tsp
Olive Oil: 1 tbsp
Sesame Seeds: handfuls
In a bowl, sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water and let it sit until frothy for about 5-10 minutes. Mix in the all purpose flour to obtain a messy batter/dough and let it sit overnight or atleast 4 hours covered loosely with a plastic wrap.
Next day in another big bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water to which honey and been added and let it sit until frothy.
In another bowl mix in 2 cups semolina flour, gluten if using and salt. If you dont have semolina flour, just run the grainy semolina -that in easily available in the market- in a mixer to get the flour.
To the yeast bowl, add all the bigs prepared earlier and mix well. To this add the semolina mix along with olive oil and mix in to get a liquidy mass. Add more semolina flour as needed to knead it into a non sticky dough.
Transfer the dough an oiled/greased container turning once to coat and let it sited covered with a plastic wrap until doubled in volume for about 1.5 hours.
Once the dough is doubled, gently punch it down and transfer it to a counter. Roll it out into a long rope and then transfer it to a lined and lightly greased baking tray. Curl the dough back and forth on itself to get a trailing 7 inch tail. Fold the tail over the shaped loaf.
Loosely cover the dough and let it sit until doubled in size about 1-2 hours.
Brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle white sesame seeds on it. Lightly press in the seeds with your fingers so that they don't fall off.
Preheat the oven at 190C/375F with a baking tray placed upside down. Place the dough baking tray on top of the hot baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes until the bread is browned. The bread should sound hollow when tapped at the bottom.
Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
The bread is crust and goes well with a salad or soup. It is a guilt free bread . Normally bread has carbs but this one made with semolina and just 4 tbsp refined flour is as simple and healthy as you can get. So if you enjoy your rava dosa or rava upma in the mornings then this can go very well with you for evening tiffin/tea or even supper along with a heavy side.