Sicilian Bread and the Flour It's Made With

You may have heard of Sicilian semolina bread, or perhaps even challenged yourself to make this specialty artisan bread, but there are a few things you should know about it's background and the flour that makes it so characteristic.

Durum wheat is a popular farm product of some northern states such as Montana, Minnesota, South Dakota and especially North Dakota. However, industry analysts say that the prairie region of Canada (being semi arid), particularly in Saskatchewan produces some of the best durum semolina in the world.

Durum wheat is a hearty grain that is normally milled into semolina – granules that more resemble uncooked polenta. It is very high in protein and gluten which makes it ideal for pasta production and the farmers of these states are often suppliers to some of the largest dry pasta producers around the world.

There are other popular uses as well for semolina such as couscous and some countries such as Germany, Poland, Sweden and Latvia have versions of a semolina pudding which is basically cooked with milk or cream and assorted fruit flavors until it is thick, then refrigerated and set almost like a panna cotta would be. It is served cool, with many varieties of fruit and sauces.

Semolina flour which comes from grinding the heart of the durum wheat berry is a refined product that still has the high gluten and protein of the durum wheat. Using this flour to bake Sicilian semolina bread produces a vibrant golden crusty outer shell, with a spongy soft buttery body. Most Italian exports with a crunchy shell will usually have at least some semolina or durum flour in them. In Canadian and North American bakeries, the semolina flour is generally combined with at least some durum flour as well so as to add some shaping structure to help form the bread into its many popular twist loaf shapes.

Sicilian semolina bread (Pane Siciliano Semolina) is most often topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds – as is the Sicilian tradition, but this is entirely optional. When we do a batch of this bread, we normally offer both versions. The sesame seeds add a light, but distinct nutty and toasty flavor which makes a great compliment for soups, sliced ​​meats and cheeses. Also, the soft and spongy texture make Sicilian semolina bread just awesome for home, grilled panini sandwiches with your favorite fillings.

If you find it difficult to find semolina flour at your grocery store, then the next best option would be a fine durum wheat flour.

Source by Fabio Battaglia

Personal Pizzas

3/4 Cups Flour. Flour is the base of making any type of dough. This ingredient is made by grinding uncooked cereal grains and other seeds or roots. In the 1930's, enriching flour became a popular technique used by bakers. It not only added flavor to the product but also made it more nutritious. Make sure to buy all purpose flour for this recipe. Other variants such as pastry, self rising, or cake flour will disrupt the overall quality of the pizza crust.

-1 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast. Dry yeast is used in many baking products as a leavening agent. It imports food sugars present in the dough into a carbon dioxide gas which in turn makes the product rise. After baking, the result is a more fluffy, puffed up bread that is more appetizing than a hard cake. Some benefits of using yeast in baking include an addition of fiber and vitamin B found in s. cerevisiae, the most common strand of yeast.

-1 Teaspoon Honey. Honey is a viscous sweetener produce by bees and other related insects. It is used in our pizza recipe as a sugar substance for the yeast to act on as well as a flavor agent. Honey gets is sweet taste from the glucose chemicals it possesses. It has been used for thousands of years all around the world. With only sixty four calories in a tablespoon, it is a great alternative to sugar when sweetening foods and beverages.

-1/8 Teaspoon Salt. While it is often looked at as unhealthy, salt can be used to amplify flavors in foods. It has had a culinary use for the past eight thousand years and can be found in every corner of the world. Salt use to be the primary method to preserving meats before temperature preservation was discovered in the new age.

-1 1/2 Teaspoon Vegetable Oil. Vegetable oil is a triglyceride extracted from a plant such as safflowers, canola, and palm. It is used as a heating substance and a flavor base for many dishes around the world.

5 Tablespoons Tomato Sauce. Tomato sauce is a key ingredient in this recipe. I recommend purchasing a plain canned sauce from your local grocery store. Tomato sauce has very little calories and sodium but packs a large amount of vitamin A and C.

-One Cup Shredded Cheese. For an individual pizza, pick any cheese you desire. Some common options include from American, mozzarella, and provolone. Try to stay clear of sharper cheeses such as Swiss and blue cheese as they will overpower the pizza. For a healthier alternative, it is possible to use skim cheese instead of whole fat cheese. This will reduce the calories per slice greatly. Feta cheese is a great example of how to do just this as it only contains fifty calories per serving.

-Toppings. Try adding vegetables and meats to improve the quality of your pizza. Just a few pieces of mushroom or bell pepper will add a sweeter taste to the meal. If you want to include pepperoni, salami, or sausage on your pizza, just precook the meats in a pan and add on top during step three below. Be creative when thinking of topping ideas as there are endless combinations. For example, the Canadian pizza, which was invented in Ontario in nineteen sixty two, mixes pineapple with bacon for sweet, savory taste.


Step 1: Add 1/4 cup of warm water, yeast, and honey to a mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients until combined and let rest for five minutes to allow the yeast to proof.

Step 2: Add salt, oil, and flour into the mixing bowl. Mix using a whisk or dough hook until ingredients combined making a dough. If the dough is to sticky, add additional flour and if the dough is to dry, add additional warm water. Cover the bowl with a dish cloth and let rise for ten minutes or until the size has doubled overall.

Step 3: Preheat the oven to four hundred and fifty degrees Fahrenheit and heat a baking stone or tray inside. Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut into desired pizza shape. Cover dough with sauce, cheese and toppings.

Step 4: Bake pizza in the oven for five to eight minutes or until crust browns. Remove from the oven and let cool for five additional minutes. Then slice and serve pizza immediately.

Source by Nick Donofrio