Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BBA Challenge #23: Pane Siciliano and Beatrice

There's this word in German, lassen. You may recognize it from its similarity to laissez in the word laissez faire, which, incidentally, comes from the French, and in turn, probably from some old Latin word. So, the word is usually used in the sense of when you have someone else do something for you. When you say Ich habe das backen lassen, you are saying "I had that baked". When you say Ich habe das gebacken, then you're saying "I baked that".

So sometimes bread just goes automatically. I keep saying that bread is really forgiving when I really mean that dough is really forgiving. I've kept batches of dough around in the fridge and by the seventh day, they were just as fine. Okay, maybe they weren't optimal, and maybe it's not the best bread I could have baked, but it still rose and allowed itself to be baked.

When I just go on auto pilot, the results can be- well- great! And there is no easier way to go on auto-pilot than with bread that you don't have to babysit.

Pane Siciliano, the twenty-third bread in the challenge is a three-day bread. While some may groan and think that Peter Reinhart has lost his marbles, the three days are justified, though it might be better to make it a two-day bread and start early on the morning of the second in order to finish that night.

For this bread, I was baking with two-ingredients which are difficult to get in Germany. Elite Weizen is the high-gluten flour from the local specialty flour store, and Semolina rimancinata di Grano Duro, which I could not find anywhere. I ended up taking a trip to KaDeWe- Kaufhaus des Westens, or Department Store of the West. There are quite a number of places to go for specialty food in Berlin. If I had been thinking, I could have gone to Mitte Meer near the Hauptbahnhof, and checked out their selection of Mediterranean goods. But no! I opted for convenience, as KaDeWe is only a ten minute bus ride from my apartment.

KaDeWe is a huge department store that begins the Ku'damm one of the busiest shopping streets in Berlin. Though, technically, it is on Tauentzienstrasse, this street turns into the Kurfürstendamm, so all shops on this long street are generally understood to be on the Ku'damm. If you've ever been to Harrod's in London or Galeries Lafayette in Paris, then you can probably picture KaDeWe.

On the top floor they have a food hall, where you can find all sorts of food from around the globe. Their selection of goods from the US is also quite extensive, not to mention, expensive. They have Root Beer for about 2€ per can, as well as Jiffy Pop and that BBQ sauce with the guy screaming on the label. Oh, they also have canned pumpkin, but at 7€ per can, I think I'll make my own again this year.

As is the case, the kitchen is mad busy on the weekend, so I occasionally have to make room for other projects while I'm baking. In this case, I was waiting for the pâte fermentée to wake up and de-chill. I stacked all the ingredients to get them out of the way. From the bottom on the left, Semolina, flour, salt, yeast, and on top, the honey and oil mixture. You don't actually mix the honey and oil for any particular reason- I just poured them into the same container because it was more convenient for me. Though I could have just as well poured them in with the water on the right.

After some kneading in the trusty ol' DLX, the dough was ready for rising.

I plopped it into the bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and zoned out into automatic land.

I should interject here and say that I am a notoriously bad shopper when it comes to clothing. Usually if I find something I like, I will resolve to buy two in anticipation of the day the first gets worn out or damaged or starts to look ratty. Of course, this never happens. And so, I end up looking like a bum that other bums don't want to hang around with. I don't want to shatter your impression of me as a dapper young gentleman who runs around in button down shirts and a monocle, but it's true. I hate buying clothes.

So, I reluctantly went pants shopping. And after much to-do and trying on of pants-that-no-respectable-person-would-wear-but-I-had-to-because-I-don't-know-my-size-in-German-measurements-and-of-course-they-don't-go-by-inches-but-also-not-by-centimeters, I bought three pair. We were out of the house for three hours and not once did I think about the dough. Until we got home and jumped like a madman to the rescue of the dough.

I poured it out and began to shape it. There it is, a 60cm baguette in all its deformed glory.

German sheet pans are actually very odd. They are all designed to fit the slots in the oven, but are not designed for air circulation. Perhaps for this reason, almost all new ovens here switch from conventional to convection at the touch of a button. Of course, our stove is a plain electric stove that looks like it was purchased when the Wall fell.

However, this particular sheet pan fits perfectly on a shelf in my refrigerator, with nary a centimeter to spare. So, this is the sheet of choice when I have to put something in the fridge. It's actually mighty convenient for bagels.

The next day, I woke up to find the dough quite puffy. I had a nature hike, so I woke up particularly early to get the bread done before I left. Note that I actually had to separate some of the loaves. I did this very gently by taking a pair of scissors to the parchment paper where the dough stuck and then very very gently prying the loaves apart. I wanted to slide parchment paper under the whole thing, but worried that it would disturb the loaves too much, so I decided to take my chances with stuck bread and went ahead and baked them.

The loaves came out golden with a crispy, chewy crust, and oh so puffy in the middle.

The crumb was beautiful. I wasn't expecting huge holes, but the crumb was still amazing. irregular holes and golden-tinted.

We had this bread for Sunday Dinner (just before Tatort) with a mushroom stew from the French cookbook I Know How To Cook. It was a little bit too much mushroom, plus I added onions, which weren't in the original recipe, so It was a bit too weird, even for me.

As a bonus, I would like to introduce the first breads from my first self-birthed sourdough starter, Beatrice. This first loaf was made Thursday night before even starting the Panettone. I did an overnight bulk rise and baked it in the morning. At first, I thought I would get no oven rise, but the thing just leaped up as soon as it hit the hot air of the oven.

The second loaf from Beatrice was this fruit and walnuts loaf which took forever to bake- partly because I baked it in a springform pan. It was, however, quite yummy. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the recipe, but it's basically raisins, dried cranberries, dried sour cherries and walnuts along with whole wheat and Type 812 flours. Maybe next time I'll write a post about breads of my own creation. Or maybe I'll bake my way through another bread book like Leader's Local Breads and start my own challenge. You never know.

Other beautiful Pane Sicilianos include:

Anne Marie from Rosemary and Garlic

Mags from The Other Side of Fifty

Carolyn from Two Skinny Jenkins

Paul from Yumarama


  1. Looks delicious! And wonderful crumb. Yum. I'd definitely make this one again.

  2. I hope that you wrote down what size you wear...I need to add to my waist measurements because of breads like this.

    Concgratulations on Beatrice's offsprings.

  3. That's picture perfect pane siciliano Daniel.

    I had to smile when I read that your starter's name is Beatrice. Mine is named Biddy, which is my mother Beatrice's nickname.

  4. Your loaves look wonderful! This is my favorite bread in the challenge so far. The dough was wonderful to work with.

  5. i am really looking forward to baking this bread and i enjoy the fact that you opted not to put sesame seeds on it. looks delicious.

  6. I've made the pane siciliano twice now. Once in the s curve forms and once as pizza dough. Both delicious. Your loaves look wonderful and congrats on Beatrice.

  7. Your bread looks delicious!

    You have inspired me to make more of my own! Thank you! And keep up the yummy work!

  8. Hi,
    I found that semolina rimancinata di grano duro is just plain "Hartweizengrieß". And that is easy to find in Germany. Usually in the grain section of the supermarket you'll find "Grieß", and there are two different versions: "aus Weichweizen" (soft wheat) and "aus Hartweizen" (durum wheat). The latter one would be the one you want. Looking forward to making this bread ;o).

  9. The bread looks just like Peter's, very nice.

    And I was just imagining you wearing a monocle.:)

    BTW, I borrowed LOCAL BREADS; I really love the recipes and the photos. I am starting my German sourdough today and hope to be able to bake German-style breads in the next 3 weeks.:)

  10. I'm with you on the shopping! And I love the picture of overflowing dough. Bread looks great as well, your shaping was spot on.

  11. BEAUTIFUL bread!! (And I love your little stories that accompany the bread baking adventures.) Congrats on the bread. The stew looked like a fantastic pairing.

  12. I thought the same: no big holes in the crumb, but puffy and a wonderful flavor. It reminded me of the "Fladenbrot" you get here when you buy a "Döner" - you know what I'm talking about?

  13. To be honest, I don't like to "work" with dough. I'm too lazy... But your recipe inspired me and I'll give it a try sooner or later. Your webpage is bookmarked, so I'll have this recipe available... Best regards,