Tumminia and Pane Nero di Castelvetrano
Back at the beginning of June, one of my Bakery students, Giuseppe, took a two month period of work experience in a Patisserie in his native town, Catania, in Sicily.
A couple of months earlier, Alison and I had, regrettably, decided not to make our annual summer trip to Crete, this year. As an alternative, we decided to take a week’s holiday in NW Scotland at Easter, and embark on a week’s adventure in Sicily during the October half term. We have booked a lovely top floor apartment in a town house overlooking the old harbour in Castellammare del Golfo in the North West corner of the island.
A few kilometres south west of here is the town of Castelvetrano. Giuseppe had already wet my appetite for exploring the native bread scene, as you can imagine. Not only that, but the BBC Radio Four Food Programme broadcast a 2 week special on the regional food of Sicily, around about this time. I did some further searching to get more detail of regional bread specialities.
I came across Pane Nero di Castelvetrano, which is discussed in reasonable detail on the Slow Food website here: http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.slowfoodsciacca.it/pag_ge.asp%3Flingua%3Dita%26link%3D122&ei=Kl5FTqndOYSk8QPrs9y2Bg&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=9&sqi=2&ved=0CG4Q7gEwCA&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dpane%2Bnero%2Bdi%2Bcastelvetrano%26hl%3Den%26qscrl%3D1%26nord%3D1%26rlz%3D1T4DKUK_enGB309%26biw%3D1154%26bih%3D400%26site%3Dwebhp%26prmd%3Divns
I asked Giuseppe what he knew about this bread before he flew out to Sicily. He knew a bit about it, mainly that the bread is made only with local flour which is famous, and, increasingly, rare. It is from a variety of durum wheat grown only in this particular region of Sicily. Given Catania is on the eastern coast of Sicily, it was not certain whether Giuseppe would be able to obtain any of this flour, however, he promised to have a go.
I then began a discussion with nicodvb to find out more about the Pane Nero di Castelvetrano, as well as taking a look at some YouTube videos, such as this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJyAqGnybE8 The bread is made using a leaven system. The flour mix is 80% local and refined semolina durum, described as “blonde grain”. I believe this will be the equivalent grind to “rimacinata”, if I’m not wrong. The other 20% of the flour is from the tumminia durum wheat grain, which is milled quite coarsely, and is a wholegrain flour. Nico explained that the tumminia flour is revered on account of the sweet aftertaste imparted in the finished bread. Some pictures of the flour are shown below. The character of a wholemeal semolina is quite evident:
The reference to the dark colour seems more to do with baking the bread hot in a wood-fired oven, rather than using a particularly wholesome grist. So, the authentic version has a darkened crust rather than a brown crumb. My version of the bread isn’t that well-fired, but more on the baking calamity later; I had a bit of a nightmare with my electric oven….yet again!
Mid way through Giuseppe’s work placement, I received an e-mail from his girlfriend. It seemed that he was being worked so hard that he was unsure whether he could get out to find the tumminia flour. However, there was quick re-assurance that he was really enjoying the work and learning a lot. Later on I exchanged e-mails with Giuseppe, when he contacted me to say his boss had driven out specially to get hold of the flour for us. A couple of weeks later and Giuseppe returned to the UK to discover I had left College. We have been meeting regularly since then as he is now very focused on setting up his own bakery/patisserie in the region. Watch this space, as I am happy to be playing an active role in this adventure.
Nico sent me a message recently asking me how the bread had turned out using the tumminia flour which Giuseppe had brought back. I had been so busy with leaving College, and putting the Powburn Show bread together, [see: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24576/%E2%80%9Cnine-show%E2%80%9D] so I had not had time to use the flour and bake a Pane Nero di Castelvetrano.
First task was to refresh my leavens. In doing this I decided to alter the formula I had planned and agreed with Nico. You will all know how much I love rye, and I suddenly hit on the idea of using a small amount of rye sour in this mix, in place of a portion of the wheat leaven. I came up with 25% wheat and 6% dark rye to make up the portion of flour which has been pre-fermented. I thought about how to mimic the “blonde” semolina grain [80% of the flour mix]. I came up with 54% Carrs Special CC strong bread flour and 20% Gilchesters Organic Ciabatta/Pizza flour which is grown locally, and therefore much lower gluten quality. The tumminia flour was added as the remaining 20% of total flour as noted in the Slow Food instructions. Hydration was set at 68%, and salt 1.8%. The formula and recipe are laid out in table format below:
Formula [% of flour]
25 flour; 15 water
250 flour; 150 water
6 flour; 10 water
60 flour; 100 water
Carrs Special CC
Gilchesters Ciabatta/Pizza Flour
% pre-fermented flour
% overall hydration
- The Rye Sour had 2 refreshments and the Wheat Levain had 3.
- I soaked the Tumminia flour in all the final dough water for one hour.
- Subsequently, I combined all the remaining ingredients with this soaker and the pre-ferments and mixed the dough for 10 minutes by hand.
- Bulk fermentation was 3 hours, with S&F after 1 and 2 hours
- I made one large loaf, so moulded the entire dough round, and placed upside down in prepared banneton.
- Final Proof was also 3 hours.
- Given that the oven decided to blow up 15 minutes into the baking, there is little point in describing a recommended bake procedure. I darted around the village and after another 10 minutes found a neighbour returning home. She agreed to bake the loaf the remaining time in her oven. It took another hour from cold, but the final result was quite acceptable.
- I brought the loaf home and cooled it on a wire.
Some photographs of the finished loaf:
The final loaf is very bold; for a dough weight of very nearly 1.7kg, baked in the circumstances described, the end result is very pleasing. The crumb is very even and moist to the point of sparkling. The flavour is actually intense, but not at all sour. A real eating pleasure!
To Nico and Giuseppe: many thanks to both of you for your support and encouragement in helping me to create this wonderful loaf of bread.
All good wishes