Pane Siciliano – Sicilian Bread

Sicilian bread is special; it has a golden crumb due to the fine durum semolina flour used to make it and a nice nutty taste on the crust’s top provided by sesame seeds. Begin the bread’s life by making a biga or what the Sicilians call a cresciuta.


  • Cresciuta:
  • 1/2 cup 110F to 115F water
  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • Dough:
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 cups 110F to 115F water
  • the prepared cresciuta
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 to 5 cups fine durum semolina flour
  • 1 tsp wheat gluten
  • cornmeal for sprinkling
  • water
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds


  1. To make the cresciuta, in a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Let it stand 10 minutes until foamy. Stir in the flour, cover the bowl, and let the mixture sit in a warm place for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 2 cups of the warm water. Let stand, covered for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  3. Stir the cresciuta into the yeast and water mixture and blend well. Add 2 cups of the semolina flour, wheat gluten and the salt and mix until a pancake like batter forms. Add additional flour a little at a time until a smooth ball of dough is obtained,
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it with closed fists for about 20 minutes. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled about 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Punch down the dough, divide it in half and roll each half into a 30 inch long rope. Curl the dough back and forth on itself leaving a 6 or 7 inch tail.
  6. Lay the tail over the top of the loaf. Do not tuck it under. This form is called mafalda.
  7. The dough may also be formed into the eyes of St Lucy (S shape) Place the dough on a peel sprinkled with cornmeal or just line the peel with parchment paper. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375F Place a baking stone on the bottom rack to preheat for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.Lightly press seeds in.
  10. If using cornmeal, sprinkle it on the baking stone just before baking the bread. Slide the loaf from the peel onto the baking stone. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until nicely browned and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.
  11. Let the bread cool on a rack before slicing.

This recipe was featured on Season 19 - Episode 1919.

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