This Sicilian no knead bread recipe holds a solid place on my short list of favorite no knead recipes. Huge thanks to its creator Ed Pillitteri from Seattle, who is generously sharing it with us. Serve with spaghetti, eggplant parmesan or lasagna and watch your family or guests weep with joy.
That’s the good news.
On the flip side, some of its ingredients are not easily found in most grocery stores. One of those is durum flour. While closely related to common durum semolina flour, which is also milled from durum wheat, durum flour is typically a finer grind and performs better in bread baking than its courser cousin. If you happen to live near a Whole Foods type grocery store, see if they carry it. Otherwise, check for chapatti flour. Chapatti flour, used mostly for the Indian flat bread, is durum flour with a little bran in it. I’ve used both and can’t tell the difference.
Update: See Ed’s comment below about doing a search for “Golden Temple Durum Atta Flour”. Same goes for this reference by Kitchen Barbarian (nice name!). Also, thanks to Eileen for finding another good on line source for durum flour (http://www.barryfarm.com). And this from Kent Perry… good work, Kent.
The other not so common ingredient is barley malt syrup. Most health food grocers should either sell it or be able to get it for you. The brand I see around is Eden (edenfoods.com). Barley malt syrup is occasionally called for in other bread recipes as well, most notably bagel recipes.
If you’ve made it this far and are actually ready to start baking, congratulations, the rest is relatively easy.
Following is the recipe, instructions and a two part video thrown in for good measure. In the videos I make Ed’s original version and also a sourdough version.
No Knead Sicilian Style Bread
300 grams (~2 cups) Durum flour (not semolina for pasta)
120 grams (~1 cup) White bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp Instant Yeast
1 1/2 cup Purified Water
1 Tbs Barley Malt Syrup
1 Tbs EV Olive Oil
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
(for the sourdough version I simply substitute 1/4 cup of starter for the 1/4 tsp instant yeast)
Mix the two flours, salt and yeast in a bowl. In a separate container (2 cup measuring cup works well) measure out the water then add the malt and stir until combined. Add the olive oil and pour it all into the flour mixture. The mixture may seem too dry but don’t add more water. The Durum flour takes a bit longer to absorb the water so cover for 10 minutes after mixing then mix again, briefly.
Place the bowl in plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 18 hours.
On a well floured surface, flatten dough and fold into three (like a letter) then in half. Cover with plastic or a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Preparing the proofing basket: Brush or spray the inside of the basket liberally with good olive oil. While standing over the sink (to avoid a mess), sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly inside the bowl, pressing them in the grooves (if using a basket) with your fingers.
Depending on the container (proofing basket) to be used, shape the dough into a ball or log. Place dough in the basket, cover with a kitchen towel or lightly with plastic and let rise for up to 1 ½ hours.
At least 30 minutes before baking, heat a large Dutch oven, including lid, or La Cloche Baker ( highly recommended) in the oven at 475 degrees. Once preheated, remove the lid, invert the loaf into the La Cloche, replace lid and bake for 30 minutes. (The parchment paper technique, shown in the video, also works well for moving the dough to your baking vessel.) After 30 minutes with the lid on, remove lid and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more to finish baking and achieve a nice golden brown crust and toasted sesame seeds – be careful not to burn yourself.
Cool to room temperature on a rack before eating – no cheating. Buon Appetito .
Ed later added this:
“I lightly toasted lightly toasted the sesame seeds in a frying pan then soaked them in water for a few minutes and drained them well. I lined an oblong proofing basket with parchment paper, lightly sprayed with oil, and let the dough rise as usual. Just before baking, I brushed the top of the loaf with water then packed the seeds all over the top in a single layer, lowered it into the La Cloche and slashed the loaf one time down the center. I think the combination of toasting and increased quantity of the sesame seeds added a lot of flavor.”
Also, thanks to Debra Hillman for sharing her experience with applying sesame seeds to the dough surface…
“I’d like to tell you an interesting experience that I have with the soaked sesame seeds. Before applying the seeds to the bread, just before baking, I tried heating the seeds in their water. I make them very warm, but not hot. Then I brush the dough generously with the water and apply the seeds, pressing and smoothing them into the surface delicately. The seeds sort of “embed” into the dough. The dough starts to puff up slightly, in response to the warm water. The result is a bread with more air pockets than usual… and no sesame seeds fall off when slicing it.”
By placing your dough in the oven before it’s fully risen, you’re more likely to get the nice oven spring (a quick burst of rising in the first minutes of baking) and the artsy splits in the crust as pictured above. In the video, the oblong loaf over proofed (for my taste) and rose no further during baking.