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Sicilian Semolina and Sesame Bread

Makes One 1¾-pound loaf

2¾ hours 35 minutes active, plus cooling

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Our version of pane siciliano, or Sicilian sesame bread, has a soft, fine quality and a rustic, satisfying chew. The crumb’s golden hue comes from semolina. Milled from durum wheat and commonly used to make pasta, semolina is relatively high in protein and has a slightly more granular texture than fine cornmeal. Bob’s Red Mill, a brand widely available in supermarkets, works well, but pass on semolina labeled “coarse,” as it will give the bread an unpleasant grittiness. Sesame seeds, on the inside and exterior of the loaf, bring earthy flavor that enhances the nutty nuances of the semolina. Baking the S-shaped coiled loaf in a steamy oven allows it to rise properly before the exterior sets and helps create a crisper crust because it facilitates starch gelatinization. The dough also makes terrific buns (see the instructions below). Store leftovers in a zip-close bag at room temperature for up to four days. To refresh the loaf, wrap it in foil and warm in a 325°F oven for 15 minutes.

Makes One

1¾-pound loaf


Don’t flour the counter before turning the dough out onto it for shaping. The dough needs to stick slightly so it can be rolled into a log; on a floured surface it will slide around. Don’t use a glass baking dish for the water in the oven; it can shatter. Finally, don’t allow the shaped loaf to fully double in size before baking. We found that slightly underproofing this bread results in a better-textured crumb.

2¾ hours

35 minutes active, plus cooling


  • 40

    grams (4 tablespoons) sesame seeds, divided

  • cups plus 3 tablespoons warm water (100°F), divided


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Patricia S.
March 15, 2024
Comes out just right every time
This is great recipe. It works perfectly every time just as written. It gives me a picture perfect bread every time I make it. Thanks for posting it.
Lawrence H.
March 14, 2024
Great bread, suggest a fun tweak...
I love this bread, have made it several times. Most recently, I substituted toasted sesame oil for the olive oil, and loved the even more sesame-driven result.
Janet M.
January 19, 2024
Great bread
I love this bread. Easy and delicious and beautiful. I may try to make it weekly. I am lucky enough to own a Wolf Steam Convection oven, so I skip all the water rigamarole and just use steam convection at the suggested temperature and time, putting the loaf in the cold oven. It’s perfect.
Mike S.
December 28, 2023
solid loaf
the recipe works well, but I found it strange that some but not all ingredients are given in grams, and why does it call for table salt and not kosher salt? I used diamond crystal kosher, I would maybe add a bit more next time. the times listed for the rising were actually a bit more then I needed to double and mine was an internal temp of 203 at 30 minutes.