sourdough Pan Siciliano

sourdough Pan Siciliano

What is Pan Siciliano?  It’s a delicious bread from Sicily shaped in the form of an S and has both wheat and semolina flour.  Its light crust and crumb, slightly sweetened with just a tad of honey, a bit of olive oil which goes very well with semolina flour, and enriched with crunchy crusted sesame seeds, all together created a light bread that is so unexpectedly wonderful with a subtle hint of sourdough note.

Yes, this particular recipe from Mike’s Sourdough Home caught my attention because its bread is raised completely using sourdough starter so make sure your starter is vigor and strong.  I was pretty excited about making this bread the first time for I learned how to shape a baguette, then coil it into an S, painted the loaves with seeds and also learned to be patient waiting over 48 hours before I could bake and taste a completely new bread.  Many lessons learned and I thoroughly enjoy the process.

Some of you might not like this bread –Birgit, for instance did not appreciate this bread at all–  if you are crusty-sourdough-type of a person.   The S-shaped loaves look lovely and I think children would assuringly enjoy this soft bread.  I, myself, like to toast  this bread very lightly, to not over-dry it, for breakfast munching it over a cup of warm tea.

I converted the original recipe into metric measurement and adjusted it just a bit where I see fit .  Let’s make the bread.

sourdough Pan Siciliano

sourdough Pan Siciliano

Pane Siciliano

Recipe is from Sourdough Home, which is  modified from a recipe in “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

This recipe makes three 400-gram loaves and will take 3 days to finish.

Pate Fermente:

dough hydration is about 58%

240 g mature starter, at 100% hydration; prefer to refresh over 24 hours

45 g/3 Tablespoon water

30 g strong/bread flour

135 g all-purpose flour

2 g/¼ teaspoon salt


final dough hydration is about 81%

450 g pate fermente, all the above pate fermente

210 g  semolina flour, I use Giusto’s semolina flour and don’t remember whether it’s  fine or coarse grind

210 g strong/bread flour

360 g lukewarm water, I use water around 80 ° – 85° F

7 g/ 1 ¼ teaspoon salt

28 g/2 Tablespoons olive oil

20 g/1 Tablespoon honey


Raw sesame seeds (optional), highly recommended.


DAY 1:

In the afternoon or evening  start making the pate fermente by mixing all the ingredients together, knead it a bit to a smooth and firm dough.

Cover it well and allow to rise until almost double.  How long this would take depends on how strong your starter is.

Place it in a well-covered container and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The pate fermente can be stored cold for 3 days.

DAY 2:

When you are ready to make the final dough, remove the pate fermente from the refrigerator.

Cut it into small pieces, cover them and let warm up to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours.

Mix the pate fermente pieces with the water and mix until smooth.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Cover and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the flour to well hydrated.

Place the dough on a cool surface and knead well until smooth.  This takes about 10 to 12 minutes.

Place the dough in a container, 2.5 times its size.  Cover, let it rise for several hours until is almost double.

Prepare a large (half-size) baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Gently handle the dough, cut it into 3  equal pieces.  I weigh the dough pieces.  Form the dough into thin baguette.

Coil both ends, with each end, in opposite directions  into the distinctive shape of this bread.

To do this, grab each end of the baguette with a hand and start coiling the dough from the outside to the center.

Place the shaped loaf on the prepared baking sheet.  Cover it with saran wrap.  Repeat the shaping for the other 2 loaves.

Mist the loaves with water.  I used a spray bottle with a light misty setting.

Sprinkle the loaves with sesame seeds.  Loosely cover with saran wrap, put the sheet into a large [garbage] plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 3:

In the morning, take the loaves out of the refrigerator.  The loaves should have risen a bit during cold storage.

Place the loaves at a warm place and let warm up to room temperature.  The loaves will continue to rise.

It takes about 2 hours or until the loaves  are light & full of bubbles.  Finger test should leave a small dent on the loaves.

About an hour into the proof, carefully spray the loaves with water again and paint them with more sesame seeds.   Please do not disturb/deflate

the formed bubbles.  Cover again with saran wrap and leave the loaves alone undisturbed.

About an hour before the loaves are done, pre-heat the oven to 500° F.  Steam is needed so prepare for it now.

Place the loaves on baking sheet in the oven.  Turn the oven temperature down to 450° F.  Bake with steam for 15 minutes.

Turn the baking sheet 180 degrees so the loaves bake evenly, and bake another 10 to 15 minutes without steam.

When the loaves reach a nice shade of brown, pull it out of the oven.  Let it cool on rack  for 20 minutes.


== I am going to dig for more pictures of this bread, please come back to check out.

sourdough Pan Siciliano crumb
sourdough Pan Siciliano crumb

I am sending this bread to Yeast Spotting.  And I am going to go over there to see other bakers’ breads for the week which has always been a feast for the eyes (and drooling for sure); so please join me.

yet another Pain de Mie Variation

yet-another Pain de Mie Variation sandwiches of smoked salmon, avocado, crème fraîche, sea salt and fresh coarsely black pepper

In just 2 days I’ll take a short Spring break vacation so I need to clean out the fridge.   Having quite some starter excess available I decide to bake my favorite Pain de Mie Variation and carry the bread with me flying across the Atlantic.  For this loaf I use different types of flours and seeds, including some nine-grain mix thrown in for good measure.

This bread turns out so well that it deserves a post by itself.  The semolina flour does make the bread seem drier; on the upshot it stays crackly crunchy for a long time.   It bakes well into a mahogany color crust and a beautiful crumb studded with seeds and pieces of coarse cornmeal.   I even record a video of its “musique du pain” within minutes it’s taken out of the oven.

I bake 2 medium-sized loaves,  keep one for my favorite sandwiches and share the other loaf with my friends, the Carsonis.  Few weeks ago I also gave a  loaf  of Pain de Mie to the same family where it was well received and quickly consumed.

Update;  I brought the rest of my bread with me on my said trip which was being canceled about 4 times due to the recent Iceland volcanic eruptionso enjoyed the slices in the four days of being an accidental tourist in San Francisco (Face Book link only).  Always bring your bread with you when you travel it comes in handy at unexpected time.

Let’s create this bread.


200 g starter excess (100 % hydration white and rye)

450 g water

400 g all-purpose flour (mine is only 9% protein)  + 1 1/2  teaspoon of wheat gluten

200 g fine semolina flour

1/8 tsp gold instant yeast **

102 g nine-grain mix + 1 TBsp toasted wheat germs + 2 TBsp quinoa grain/seed + mostly toasted sesame seed and some pepitas.

** I did not have enough starter & it did not look particularly active.  Just to be sure I add a tiny amount of yeast to give the dough a boost.


Measure the flour, the wheat gluten, yeast, and nine-grain mix in a large mixing bowl.  Use a whisk blend the mixture well.

mix of flours

mix of flours

flour mix and yeast

flour mixture, starter excess, water, yeast, salt, and seeds

Add the starter in the flour mixture; add water to the starter container to loosen the starter that clings to the container.

Measure the water, add to the mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula until hydrated; it needs not to be perfectly mixed.

mixing starter and flour mixture

mixing starter and flour mixture

Let the dough autolyse for at least 45 minutes to an hour.  Cover well with quick saran wrap.

autolyse the mixed dough

autolyse the mixed dough

Add the salt, mix the dough by hand or use a mixer to medium gluten development, about 10 – 20 minutes depends on which method you use.  I use a bread maker set at dough mixing to mix it well; it takes me 15 minutes.

mixing dough in a bread maker

mixing dough in a bread maker

well-gluten-developped dough

medium-gluten-developed dough

Fold in the seeds either by hand or at low-setting on your mixer until just well-blended, no more than 2 minutes by machine.

roasted sesame seeds & pepitas

roasted sesame seeds & pepitas

seeds mixed in with dough

seeds mixed in with the dough

Put the dough in an oiled container, 2.5 times its size.  If your dough need more structure, give it a few folds within the next hour  then proceed to cold storage overnight for a long fermentation, from 10 hours up to 24 hours.

This particular dough is quite strong so I decide not to fold it at all but leave it out on the counter for 45 minutes then put it into the fridge.

When you are ready to bake the bread, take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature about 2 hours or so.  If you leave it in a warm place it might take less time.  Sprinkle some flour on the dough, take it out of the bowl and place it on a floured counter.

This particular dough is soft even with all the grains and seeds in it; it has a wonderful elasticity/extensibility profile.  I can already anticipate the slashing which would be a breeze.

dough ready after cold fermentation

dough ready after cold fermentation

Divide it into 2 equal portion (use a scale).  Roughly shape into 2 balls, sprinkle some flour on the surface, loosely cover with saran wrap and let them rest for 20 minutes.

Shape dough into 2 batards.  I proof the loaves directly on parchment paper-line baking sheet right side up.  Take care to leave room for expansion between the loaves.  I use rolled towels or this to aid support to the loaves and to encourage rising-up expansion.

Sprinkle some flour on the loaves.  Put the whole baking sheet inside a large garbage bag and leave it at a warm place 72° F – 75° F.  I turn the appliance light on and put the whole thing in the oven.

Let the loaves proof until well expanded, light and full of bubbles.

ready-to-bake shaped loaves

ready-to-bake shaped loaves

In the meantime turn on the oven with a baking stone/tiles at 450 ° F, at least 45 minutes before the bake.

Slash the loaves off center with a utility blade or sharp knife or  use a lame, at an angle about 30 degrees to create a flap over the dough to encourage ear and open “grigne” development.

Load the loaves on parchment in the oven.  Turn the oven down to 435 ° F.  Bake the loaves  with burst of steam the first 15-18 minutes.

Take the parchment off so that the loaves bake directly on the baking tiles.  Bake for another 30 minutes or so.  Turn them half way into the bake so they bake evenly.  Turn the oven of; crack the oven door open ajar;  leave the loaves inside to crisp up for another 10 minutes.  This method works really well.

Take the loaves out.  Let them cool completely on a wire rack.   Do not rush to cut into them.  Well, if you can’t stand it, cut a thin slice around the edge only; leave the center of the loaf alone until it cools down the next hour or so.  Be patient.

baked loaves

baked loaves

Loaf I

Loaf I

Loaf II

Loaf II

and the crumb with seeds, cracked corn nested in the crumb cells



I enjoy this bread very very much.  I made sandwiches twice in a row.

Sandwich I:  [wild Alaskan] Smoked salmon, avocado, sea salt, cracked pepper on Pain de Mie bread.

vocado spread on toasted slices

vocado spread on toasted slices

assembling sandwiches

assembling sandwiches

Smoked salmon avocado Pain de Mie sandwich

Smoked salmon avocado Pain de Mie sandwich

Sandwich II: [wild Alaskan] Smoked salmon, avocado, crème fraîche, sea salt, cracked pepper on Pain de Mie bread.

assembling sandwiches

assembling sandwiches

Sandwiches II

Smoked salmon avocado crème fraîchePain de Mie sandwiches

Hope you will enjoy making this bread and be creative about the different types of flours and seeds.  Enjoy baking and eating!

I am sending this bread [again, shamelessly] to share with the folks at this week’s Yeast Spotting.