I have been making Pane Siciliano for years – ever since I first got Carol Field‘s The Italian Baker – some 25 or so years ago. I even baked a couple of loaves in Sicily when we were there! It’s a good loaf of bread.

I received the latest issue of Milk Street Magazine and, lo and behold, they had a recipe for Pane Siciliano that was just a tad different – it called for ground, toasted sesame seeds in the dough!

Naturally, I had to bake a loaf!



And I must say – the addition of the ground, toasted sesame seeds really knocked it out of the ballpark! It worked really well with the semolina, adding just the right amount of nuttiness without overpowering the loaf. Needless to say, we liked it!

It has a beautiful, soft crumb and the crust has just the right chew.


Pane Siciliano

adapted from Milk Street

  • 40 grams (4 tbsp) sesame seeds, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 3 tbsp warm water,  divided
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp honey, divided
  • 340 grams (2 cups) semolina flour
  • 137 grams (1 cup) bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

In a skillet over medium heat, toast 30 grams (3 tablespoons) of the sesame seeds, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and pulse to a fine powder.

In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, stir together 1¼ cups of the warm water, the oil and 1 tablespoon of the honey.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the ground sesame, both flours, the yeast and salt. Attach the bowl and dough hook to the mixer.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the water mixture. Increase to medium and knead until a smooth dough forms and clears the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, place back in the bowl, cover, and let rise at room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and dust it with semolina.

Turn the dough out onto a dry counter (not floured).

Form the dough into a thick log about 12 inches long. Using your hands, roll the log back and forth against the counter while applying light pressure, stretching the dough into an evenly thick rope about 30 inches long.

Starting at one end, tightly coil the rope, stopping at the rope’s midpoint. Coil the other end of the rope in the opposite direction from the first, forming an S shape.

Place the shaped dough on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature until  almost doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

Position racks in the middle and lower-middle of the oven. Place a metal baking pan on the lower rack and heat the oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons warm water and the remaining 1 teaspoon honey. Have ready 3 cups hot to pour into the baking pan to create steam for baking the bread.

When the dough has almost doubled, brush it with the honey-water mixture and then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.

Place the baking sheet on the upper rack of the oven, carefully pour the hot water into the baking pan and quickly close the oven door. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool the loaf on the baking sheet on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Transfer directly to the rack and cool completely.


The recipe states one can also make 6 rolls from the dough, pretty much following the above instructions but rolling into balls and then flattening them to about 1″ thick, cover and rise until doubled, and bake 35 or so minutes. I shall do that next time.

I shall be making it again. And again… It’s an extremely easy loaf to make.