Sicilian No Knead Bread

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.

Ed Pillitteri - Sicilian No Knead Creator

Ed Pillitteri – Sicilian No Knead Creator

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 .

Notes:

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.”

One of Ed's Gems

One of Ed’s Gems

Nice oven spring and natural split

Nice oven spring and natural split

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.

{ 225 comments… read them below or add one }

jessie January 28, 2009 at 1:44 pm

The crumb on the last bread that I made came out sticky. It was very difficult to slice it. what did I do wrong?

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Andy S January 28, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I made the no knead Sicilian bread today with fine ground semolina flour I had on hand and it can out terrific!! I proofed it in the rectangular banneton with parchment paper and sesame seeds… then into the rectangular La Cloche.
Yum!!!!

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Lynda January 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Barry Farm is also carrying the barley malt syrup, so you can order everything you need for this bread from them. I’m on my way to trying this delicious-looking loaf!

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Ed P January 8, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Hi Harvey,
So far, I’ve found no solution for the “seed fallout” problem on the round loaf when I use the “original method” of spraying the basket with oil, sprinkling seeds (no parchment) then inverting.

However, using the parchment method, I’ve been able to mitigate by liberally brushing an egg white & water wash (see my 12-22 post) on the loaf just before slashing and baking. It isn’t perfect but it has worked well for me.

I really like the sesame flavor so l bake the seeds into the bottom of the loaf too. So, for the final rise, I liberally spray the parchment with olive oil, apply a solid layer of seeds on the paper, lay the dough in and press it down a bit. This produces a solidly embedded layer on the bottom that seems to stay put. You will still loose a bunch of seeds when you slice the loaf and you may still decide to abandon their use but this helps a lot.

Another way to get added sesame flavor is to add some tahini to the dough. I’ve only tried it once dissolving 1/3 cup in the water, eliminating the olive oil, and reversing the white / durum flour ratio – not a blockbuster but quite good.
You no doubt know this but just in case, Tahini (aka Tahina) is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. It’s most recognized use in the US is in hummus. Look for Tahini made from roasted seeds rather than raw,

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Bob Packer January 8, 2009 at 11:15 am

Have you tried an egg wash to ‘glue” them to the bread?

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Harvey Cohen January 8, 2009 at 8:06 am

My local Whole Foods (Middletown, NJ) now carries durum flour in their bulk dept.

The sesame seeds look very nice, but no matter how firmly I press them into the top, most of the seeds fall off the baked loaf while it is being cut. Few actually are eaten, and they escapees skitter around the kitchen making a nuisance. I think I may stop using them.

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Jeff B. January 8, 2009 at 2:17 am

Ed/Eric. Thanks for the offer. Your instructions were great. I finished the Sicilian loaf last night and had some this morning. I tend to favor the darker more rustic breads, whole wheat, rye, etc. but I gotta say that this loaf is just fantastic taste. This will now be in my short-list rotation of NK breads. I followed Ed’s recommendations of the toasted and soaked sesame seeds which were just mouth watering. I highly recommend to all.

Finding the Durum flour can take a bit of extra effort, but it is well worth it when you bite in to the finished product.

Happy New Year!

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Ed P January 6, 2009 at 11:31 am

Jeff,
Great. Let me know if I can help.

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Jeff B. January 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Ed,

I found Big John’s PFI. A very yummy place. Lots to checkout. I got the Durum flour. Thanks. I am going to start a loaf today or tomorrow!

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Eileen January 4, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Hi Eric – here’s something about the Durum flour: I have searched for it on eBay ever since this post came out and found nothing. Today I searched again and found it in an eBay store. They also have a website, which is cheaper to order from (although by only cents): http://www.barryfarm.com Check it out — it could be a good resource for bread bakers! Also I received my yeast and thermometer yesterday. Thank you very much and Happy New Year!

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Ray F January 3, 2009 at 9:31 am

I found and purchased the flour Ed P suggested; it was in the Indian section. Ed mentioed a good point though. There were bags of Chapatti flour sold also but the sole ingredient was: “whole wheat flour”.

The Durum Atta had: durum wheat flour and wheat bran as Eric had stated above.

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Chuck H January 1, 2009 at 9:24 pm

long time lurker, first comment here.
a big thanks to Eric and all you posters here!
Barley malt syrup or powder will be availible at homebrewing supply stores…check your local phonebook.
try to get diastatic malt powder if you can, it has active enzymes that will help the yeast work. it is availble from KA flour also.
difficulty obtaining durum flour is yet another reason to mill your own grain, you could run semolina through it.
kamut is a close relative of durum and is very good in the no knead bread.
i gotta try this recipe, thanks Ed!

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Tony S. January 1, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Yes, Eric,
I did contact an Indian grocer and he didn’t carry that flour. Funny, but the present proprietor of the “Casa Italiana” grocery is this Indian fellow and his wife. They bought it from an Italian couple when they retired. They sell as mulch Italian groceries as Indian.
Thanks, Ed; I’ll google the Golden Temple Durum Atta Flour and check out KA.
Ain’t bread great!!!!!
Tony

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Ed P - Bellevue, WA January 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Hi Tony,
Do a search for “Golden Temple Durum Atta Flour”. There are several sites that sell it. This flour is durum blended with all purpose but the bread it produces is very close to that made with pure durum. Amazon has a Chappati (aka Chapatti) flour but it doesn’t list ingredients so you can’t be sure what’s in it. You can get pure durum at King Arthur. In all cases, the shipping makes it pretty expensive.
Ed

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Breadtopia December 31, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Tony – did you ask the Indian grocer if they carry chapatti flour? Chapatti flour is durum flour.

Update: Based on Ray’s comment below, obviously Chapatti flour isn’t necessarily durum flour. Can be whole wheat too. Keep reading below – it gets a little clearer I think.

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Tony S. December 31, 2008 at 4:29 pm

I tried to locate durum flour at an Indian grocery and they didn’t carry it. Also called our local Whole Foods store and they only offered it in combo with semolina flour.
So I’m back to the original recipe…sad that I must discard the Sicilian recipe at least for a while, since I’m of Sicilian descent.
Tony

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jessie December 30, 2008 at 7:54 am

What is “oo” flour and when do you use it?

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Harvey Cohen December 28, 2008 at 8:27 pm

I use poly brotforms from fantes.com . I have a round and a rectangular. They are extremely slippery by themselves, but a little Baker’s Secret Spray doesn’t hurt. You can wash them with soap and water– takes about 5 seconds.
That said, I’ve switched to doing all my no-kneads with a parchment paper or silicone sheet lining the brotform. Flipping the dough was always messy and risky for me, and it inevitably caused some deflation. Not worth it just to get the pretty pattern.Transfer in the paper directly to the cloche or dutch oven is easier and neater.

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Breadtopia December 28, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Hi Debbie,

That’s a very good question. I spray it with hot water and dry it quickly over the still hot stove top. There’s a little video that shows what I mean:
http://www.breadtopia.com/store/oblong-brotform-proofing-basket.html. Click the thumbnail image to the right of the main video that says “cleaning proofing basket” underneath it.

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Francine December 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Hi–Absolutely love the bread that I make using your techniques and recipes. It feels a tad like cheating because so little work is involved.

This may be a stupid question but how does one clean the proofing basket after it has been sprayed with olive oil?

Thanks so much for the ideas, techniques and tools to make such wonderful bread!
Debbie

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Jeff B. December 24, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Ed/ Eric,

Thanks. Next time I am up in Seattle during the week, I will swing by and get some Durum Flour! Can’t wait to try the recipe. Merry Christmas.

-Jeff

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Ed P - Bellevue, WA December 22, 2008 at 7:32 pm

Hi Eric and fellow bread baking enthusiasts.
First: Thank you Eric for producing another terrific video. As you know, I have been a fan of yours for some time and am honored that you would choose my recipe to join the ranks of the other yummy breads that you have featured. I’ve tried them all more than once and have never been disappointed.
Here are a few late breaking “add on” tips for Sicilian Style Bread.
Managing the sesame seeds: If you recall in the video, as Eric slices the loaf he says something like “seeds all over the place” – that says it all. The remedy, make a wash of 1 egg white and 1 or 2T of water slightly beaten. Just before you bake, brush the top of the loaf and sprinkle the seeds. Toasting the seeds first is highly recommended and be generous – very tasty. Please note that this will be bit of a challenge for those inverting the loaf from a round proofing basket but if you’re lowering the dough into the baking vessel via parchment paper, it works like a charm.
Substitute ingredients: I read that several members have tried substitute ingredients such as molasses or malt powder. They all work and will produce a great loaf – but understand that it’s different. Malt syrup adds a subtle flavor all it’s own. I always try a recipe as written to establish a baseline then go from there.
Another interesting use of durum flour: Following Eric’s basic recipe for a sour dough loaf, use one cup each of durum, whole wheat and white bread flour. I found a 12 hour fermentation is good and only one hour second rise at around 70 F.
Have fun.
Ed

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Ed P - Bellevue, WA December 22, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Hi Jeff,
Eric is correct, Big John’s PFI is the best source in Seattle at 1001 6th Ave S., a couple of blocks east of Qwest Fiels. It’s in the lower level of an old brick industrial building, kind of hidden down a long driveway.
It’s a fun store frequented by area chefs and other foodies with all kinds of Mediterranean imports, cheese, olives (1lb minimum) flours, beans, spices all in bins. Durum is $1.10 a pound. Another place is the Indian grocery store on 148th in Bellevue behind Fred Meyer – I don’t know the name. Only problem there is you have to buy a 20lb bag.
Ed

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Breadtopia December 21, 2008 at 6:28 am

Hi Jeff,

Ed may not be living on his computer like I tend to do…

I searched through some past email correspondence with Ed and he mentioned that he purchased his durum flour from Pacific Food Imports in Seattle. It may only be available in fairly large quantities, like 50 lb sacks.

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Jeff B. December 19, 2008 at 11:17 pm

A question for Ed Pillitteri. Where do I find the Durum Flour for the NK Sicilian in the Puget Sound area? I’ve looked all over, but so far no luck except online from King Arthur, but with a hefty $8 shipping charge. I am in the Tacoma area Ed, so if you have a place in Seattle that you get the flour, I get up there often enough that I could get the flour while I am up there for business.

I tried Metropolitan Market and Marlene’s Deli. So far no luck.

Thanks.

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alfreedo December 12, 2008 at 5:00 pm

I found Durum flour in the Indian section of an international grocery. It’s used for making chapatis and such. Careful buying flour in the Indian section, as they have flour made from “everything”

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Harvey Cohen December 11, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Just made this. Fed 1/4 cup very wet starter with 1/4 cup flour, fermented 24 hours, then made dough. Used 1 tablespoon non-diastatic malt powder in place of syrup.
Dough was very silky and delicate to the touch– a pleasure to work with.
Good oven spring, but texture a bit tighter than in Ed’s photo (above).
Wonderful crust, fabulous taste. Easy, and a real winner.

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jessie December 9, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Hi Tony; I never tried making the bread out of only KA bread flour. If you have a Indian grocery store in your area their Chapati flour is one in the same as Durum flour.

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Tony S. December 9, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Hi, Eric!
Well, I discovered that locating durum wheat flour was difficult, but I was also anxious to try this new recipe. I used all KA bread flour and got…pudding!! The flour didn’t absorb enough of the 1.5 cups of water. BUT, the resulting bread was wonderful!!! Never tasted such light dough and the crust was like crisp paper.
I’ll try again when I locate the durum.
Has anyone else tried all-KA bread flour in this recipe?
Tony

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luci December 8, 2008 at 11:48 am

Here in Italy we use only barley malt powder, not syrup just because syrup is sweeter than powder; but powder is difficult to find. If you use “semolino di grano duro” instead of “semolino rimacinato” when you cut the bread is possible that the slice of bread crumbles a little bit.
Ciao

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jessie November 25, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Hi Rob: Where can I get a hard copy of your wonderful reicpies ??

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Breadtopia November 24, 2008 at 10:00 am

Hi Rob.

That would be great. But you’ll need to email me the photos and I’ll post them.

Semolina flour is not the same. Close, but not close enough. See the paragraph under the photo of Ed above. It covers this a little.

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Rob November 24, 2008 at 8:23 am

This sounds less difficult than the instructions in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice book. I hope to make this for Thanksgiving. If I do, I shall post photos. I do not have baking pans; I typically bake a boule in the oven on a stone surface.

A question though, is Semolina flour the same as Durum flour?

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Susan Daku November 23, 2008 at 11:28 pm

Wow! The Sicilian bread is very nice. I baked up a loaf this morning, it had a different aroma to it due to the different flour. I couldn’t find durum flour so I settled on Golden Temple durum with bran made for rotis and chapattis. I also used 1/2 molasses & 1/2 honey in place of the barley malt syrup which worked well. I also did the yeasted version which dbl. in 9 hrs since my kitchen is around the 72F mark. I’m sure the sourdough starter formula would be a hit! Oh yes–this bread had a very nice oven spring as well. I just used my enameled cast iron @450F covered for 40 mins. Thank you Eric for a wonderful bread recipe. If anyone tries the Sicilian out using barley malt syrup pls. let me know of the outcome so we can compare notes! Susan in Calgary

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fran November 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm

To Jacob V. This is Fran. I would like to chime in on what I’ve been doing with the sourdough bread. I found that when I put my bread in a preheated LeCruset pot that my crust was way to crusty for me to enjoy. For my taste, I like my bread much better when I put it uncovered in a preheated 400 degree oven in a cold pot lined with parchment paper. It still comes out plenty crusty for my taste. Sometimes I get really great oven spring and other times not so high but it is always great bread that my family and friends enjoy. I think what Eirk said is true. Home kitchens just don’t have the stable atmosphere of a bakery. As to the fresh baked morning bread I wouldn’t know how to resolve that. When the bread comes out of the oven it really does need to cool for at the very least an hour. How about baking the night before, cooling overnight then slicing in the morning?

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Tony S. November 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Looking forward to trying this new recipe! Hats off to you, Eirk. It’s great that you’re still investigating and trying new kinds of bread recipes…and responding to your readers! Iit sure motivates me to experiment along with you.
Best of the holidays,
Tony

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Jacob V. November 23, 2008 at 12:01 pm

hi Eric, looks great! I’ll try it as soon as I find the ingredients…
I do have a couple of general questions I’m hoping you have an answer for…
1. What exactly does removing the lid do i.e why remove the lid could the whole thing be baked lid on or would this affect the crust or bread somehow?
2. I’d like to have freshly baked bread in the morning for breakfast but I don’t want to get up at 4 am or earlier… My breadmachine was great at filling the morning air with freshly-baked-bread aromas but produces lousy breads. I wonder if any one has figured out schedule for this desired result. No-knead or a no-knead variation or any recipe for a great bread really as long as I can shuff it into the oven early morning and enjoy is ca 90 min later.

Thanks
Jacob V.

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Beth November 22, 2008 at 10:25 pm

I’ll definitely let you know how it goes, as soon as I can get to it that is… :)

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Breadtopia November 22, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Hi Song,

The sourdough starter jar has a 1 1/2 quart capacity. You should find the answers to most of your sourdough starter management questions on this sourdough starter management page.

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Breadtopia November 22, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Hi Folks. I think I’ll try to address any questions in one post here to spare subscribers from more emails than necessary.

Pam – It’s impossible to give a specific time as to how long to let the dough rise to get better “oven spring”. It’s going to vary like crazy depending on the room temperature, humidity, the recipe (and no doubt the position of the planets and stars). Aside from consulting with an astrologer, about all you can do is bake scads of loaves until you develop a sense for when to pop the dough in the oven. Even then, it’s hard to hit all the time.

I think the reason professional bakers can get it right so consistently is they take great care to control their ingredients, their quantities and their environment (heat and humidity) and of course their great skill that comes from vast experience.

Bottom line: it gets easier with experience.

Evan – Yes. The barley malt syrup adds some flavor, and the sweetness an extra kick to the yeast. The powder would do the same thing.

Dale – Check the paragraph under the picture of Ed above. That’s everything I know about getting Durum flour.

Beth and Pam – By all means, please let us know how honey and/or molasses works in place of barley malt. Could be very interesting.

Fran:)

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fran November 21, 2008 at 11:11 pm

The bread looks wonderful. I will definitely use your recipe. I’ve checked in on you quite often over the last few months waiting for a new posting. Since finding this site I’ve gotten very adventurous since the beginning of the year. I’ve managed to keep my original sourdough starter alive, well and thriving. I’ve named him Sammy. I’ve come up with a sourdough gorgonzola with purple onion and even done lemon zest rosemary (I saw in williams sonoma catalog) with added greek yogurt. Yummy. You are an inspiration and thanks for all your great videos and advice.

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Betty Wright November 21, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Thanks so much for the heads-up on Sicilian bread. I’ll be making it soon. I’ve been having trouble making a satisfactory whole wheat bread so i’m looking forward to your next video. Betty

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Pam November 21, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Hi Beth,
After doing some research on the web….I’m going to substitue the barley malt syrup with either honey, or molasses. Shouldn’t make that much difference really.

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Beth November 21, 2008 at 5:31 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve “come over” but I was wondering if I could use molasses instead of the barley malt?

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Song November 21, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Your bread looks good^^
I have question about your bredstarter jar.
How much volume or weight you make breadstarter in your jar and how long you can keep and use it? breadstarter jar keep in refrigerator until how many days can use?

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Dale November 21, 2008 at 3:12 pm

where do you get the Durum flour?

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Susan Daku November 21, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Wow Eric! You’ve outdone yourself again. I’m sure this will be another winner to add to the collection. I’m going out right now to buy the ingredients! Susan in Calgary

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Evan November 21, 2008 at 12:21 pm

erik: could you substitue barley malt powder for the syrup/ I’ve got the powder-

Evan

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Pam November 21, 2008 at 11:01 am

I can’t wait to try this recipe! I am curious about the comment made under the loaf picture though. About placing the dough in the oven before it has completely risen to achieve a nicer rise in the bread??? Then just how long should the bread rise before doing this???
Thanks, Pam

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eveline salario November 21, 2008 at 9:37 am

The bread looks beautifull. i am going to bake it. thank you.
And with a real sicilian to.
my nephew in Switseland is a baker. he is born in Sicily, but lives in Basel.
I will send him a link.
Ciao Eveline Salario

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