How does this happen?

It’s a fast day today and I decided to make a nice grainy bread like Ted likes for the end of the fast.

So how does it happen that when I sit down to Google a nice, fairly quick, easy grainy bread to use up some of the ingredients I have on hand: barley flour, oat flour, bread flour, a bit of Pioneer Village whole wheat… I end up falling DEEPLY in love with a Sicilian No-Knead Bread, totally different from what I set out to bake???

I have been obsessed with Pane Siciliano for a while. For whatever reason, I love pasta and semolina and everything related to it.

This bread is actually made with durum flour, which is a finer grind than durum semolina. Semolina is coarser, like corn meal. It works for bread in small quantities, and actually works well for pasta. I also keep it on hand because, like corn meal, it’s useful for sprinkling on a surface so breads don’t stick: the coarse grains act like ball bearings and your bread rolls right off!

I haven’t been able to find proper durum flour locally, but the comments after the recipe say that Indian brands of chapatti flour are basically the same thing. In fact, the author specifically mentions “Golden Temple Durum Atta Flour,” which is exactly what I happen to have on hand. Yay for me and my poori craving!

So this helps clear up some of the confusion I’ve had about flours for pasta vs bread, durum vs semolina vs… well, whatever.

In addition to the semolina obsession, I have been fascinated with the appealing look and concept of the sesame-seed sprinkling on top of proper pane siciliano – not to mention the beguiling S-shape it’s often formed into.

Finally, this recipe called to me because it uses barley malt. It actually calls for syrup, which I don’t have, but the comments say that the powder should work just fine. My sister gifted me with a big bag of barley malt powder, which has been in the basement freezer for way too long. But it looked and smelled just fine when I took it out, so I substituted 2 tablespoons for the 1 tablespoon of syrup called for.

Since it’s for tonight, I don’t have the time to let it sit and rise for 18 hours like the recipe calls for. I plan to add extra yeast (gasp!) to compensate.

So there you have it: I have taken a perfectly lovely recipe and am now going to butcher it and see what comes out the other end. Stay tuned for pictures!!! Or else a depressing, grim tale of failure… and either will be super-entertaining, right?

p.s. I really need a Danish Dough Whisk!!! It looks waaay cool when the guy in the video stirs his dough with it!


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