Pane Nero de Castelvetrano with Tumminia flour

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When I was at the Salone del Gusto organised by Slow Food in Turin last year, one of the most memorable things I ate was this bread. It was a huge loaf with a dark, sooty crust, tight crumb and a very unique taste. Now that i’ve tasted Kamut and Einkorn flour, I would say there’s some similarity with these flours, but then I was surprised by how different it was from plain wheat. The baker was from Castelvetrano and I think he must have been amused by how I hovered around his stand, plying him with questions and lingering over the the hefty loaves I wasn’t able to cart home. Language difficulties prevented me from getting the formula from him, but I gathered it was definitely a sourdough, and was made from this rare variety of Tumminia semolina flour. The flour was wholegrain and stone-ground and sourced from a local miller. I couldn’t get the hydration level but he said it was not 100% Tumminia flour. They bake it in an oven fired by olive wood, and have it warm, slathered with olive oil and sprinkled with Sicilian oregano. Sadly no flour was on sale, but he must have seen my disappointment and very kindly gave me a pack of pasta made from this flour (very delicious and long since devoured).

I enquired at every flour stand I saw and my perseverance paid off for one of them happened to have just one pack of Tumminia flour. You should have seen the way I pounced on it 🙂 I’ve been saving this pack (only 750g, not even 1kg!) for the longest time, knowing I won’t be able to find it here.

I was considering improvising a formula when I realised there was a formula at the back of the pack, so here goes:

Pane Nero
150g     leaven (mine was a mix of wheat and wholewheat)
300g     water
500g     Tumminia wholegrain flour
11g      salt

This was a very long, slow rise. After a 45-min autolyse and mixing in the salt, I had to refrigerate it for a few hours. The dough felt strong and since the hydration was not high, it was very easy to work with. But it took a whole afternoon and evening to lose its chill and hardly rose. I felt this one was a hard one to judge readiness, almost like rye? After shaping, I let it rise overnight on the counter, when usually my breads would go into the fridge.

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I didn’t think the day would come when I would have bread with olive oil and coffee for breakfast!! But somehow the butter felt wrong… I often feel that way with semolina breads—there’s something almost savoury about them, or at least something that calls for a savoury pairing. In any case, it was delicious but lacked the dark, earthy flavour that comes with a wood-fired oven. I know what I would hunt down in that region!

Will send this off to Panissimo, an event created by Barbara of Bread & Companatico http://www.myitaliansmorgasbord.com and Sandra of Indovina chi viene a Cena? http://www.sonoiosandra.blogspot.it and hosted this month by Michaela http://menta-e-rosmarino.blogspot.it

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