Monday, November 21, 2011


On Friday afternoon the ladies [and one or two gentlemen] of the Modica and Ragusa "foreign legion" held a very special gathering, for my kind friend Grazia, who is one of the best Sicilian cooks I know, had decided to show us how to make traditional Sicilian bread - the pane di casa that the housewife used to produce for her family at the beginning of every week. 

I hope you are all feeling energetic, as this is hard work!

Having made a yeast "starter", Grazia uses the "fountain" method to work the dough:  in this the flour is put in the centre of the work board - here a large wooden container with high sides, called a maidda in dialect - a "well" is formed in the centre of the flour and the starter is mixed in with more water as needed:

As you can see, every bit of flour is gathered into the bread:

Now the roll will be left under a teatowel for ten minutes.

But what is this?  Ah, this is the kneading table, the briula, with its briuni on the left:

Grazia sits at one end of the briula, from where she will turn the dough, and today she has no shortage of helpers to wield the briuni

Up and down goes the briuni, until Grazia is satisfied with the kneading:

Now she cuts off a tiny portion of dough and uses the knife to etch the shape of the cross on the cut edge of the rest. Then she cuts off pieces and begins to form them into traditional shapes:

Now it's time for the special effects!

The S-shaped forms are typical.  Now they are all left to rise under teatowels and blankets.  How long for?  For as long as it takes - pazienza.

After baking, the bread can be "dressed" with oil, salt, oregano, sundried tomatoes or local cheese.  Now it has become pane condito and it is delicious:

What else did we eat at our gathering?  Well.....

Tiralucci biscuits

One of Linda and Chiara's sponges

Candied orange peel, sometimes dipped in chocolate, appears at this time of year
But the star of the show was the bread.  Grazie per la lezione, Grazia.


Claude said...

C'est magnifique! I will not try this one, Welshcake. I'm not up to the task. I truly admire the accomplishment, and the delicious food you were served.

Whispering Walls said...

That is very impressive - love the handbag!

Dario said...

Bene Pat, molto belle le foto e la descrizione. Il mio nome esatto è Grazia, non Maria. ciao

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ciao. Lo so ma all'inizio ho dato a tutti gli amici altri nomi per il blog. Lo cambio subito. Grazie di nuovo per la bella serata.

Dragonstar said...

The bread seems to take a lot of hard work, but the results look well worth it. What delicious food you had.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Claude. I wouldn't be, either! I don't have that much strength in my arms any more. Hi, WW. Yes, I want one! Hi, Dragonstar. Oh, worth it indeed.

Jenny Woolf said...

My goodness, what pastries! and what an interesting description.

Cuby said...

This is a spectacular sight. The bread being the star from beginning to end. You and friends certainly know how to eat well. C'est manifique!

LindyLouMac said...

So many delicious foody posts for me to catch up on Pat.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks,Jenny. Yes, I think it's pretty spaectacular, too, Cuby. Thanks, LindyLouMac.

Rowena said...

That's amazing.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Rowena. Grazia will be pleased that you think so!


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