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The Best of Winter Breads: Sicilian Semolina Bread

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f you have ever had the pleasure of taversing through Italy, the chances are very strong you have eaten a slice or two of this bread. If your trip to Italy included some time spent in the marvel known as Sicily, you have eaten this bread!

This is a bread which should be in every bread lovers stable of breads. It is a classic European bread with a hard crust and dense dough. It is perfect with any entree featuring a sauce and makes a downright delicious garlic bread.

I should warn you that this dough is different than most bread doughs. You will be using a semolina flour, which is a ground durum wheat flour (same flour to make authentic pasta). Your dough will be rather tough, so it is very important to knead it very well, as you'll want to breakdown the gluten of the flour. From a health point, kneading bread is a wonderful upper body workout!

A word about bread -- all breads. All recipes for breads will vary in by locale. Due to the chemistry components of bread baking, altitude and humidity play a part in the bread baking process, so a lot of times you have to "play" with a bread recipe to make it work to perfection for where you are at.

Ingredients needed to make Sicilian Semolina Bread (makes 2 loaves):

  • 2 ½ tsp. yeast
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 1¼ cup warm water
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 2/3 cup semolina flour
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs. salt

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the yeast, sugar and ¼ cup warm water. Set the bowl aside 5 minutes to proof (foam).
  2. Into the proofed yeast stir the remaining water, olive and both flours until a soft dough forms.
  3. Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead 10 minutes. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and let rise 2 hours.
  4. Punch the dough down. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead 5 minutes. Place back into the bowl, cover and let rise 1 hour.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide in half. Form each half into a ball and place on baking sheets.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 425.
  7. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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