Sicilian Mafalda Bread

Mafalda Breads

Mafalda is a durum wheat based bread.  The name also refers to its classic serpentine shape.  This rustic sesame seed encrusted bread can be formed into other shapes as well, such as baguettes (bastone) or the popular scrolled eyes of Saint Lucy (occhi di Santa Lucia).  You can make the dough into larger loaves or individual rolls.  The rolls are great for making panini sandwiches.

Durum flour is the key ingredient in making this bread.  If you don’t have durum or fine semolina flour, you can substitute it with bread flour.  Of course, it won’t taste the same but it will still be very good.  Durum and semolina flours are coarser than bread flour, giving the bread a rustic texture and slightly sweet and nutty flavor.  You can purchase durum flour online from either King Arthur Flour or  Shipments usually take 2 to 3 days to arrive.

Just one other note – I always use roasted sesame seeds when baking. They can be found in the Asian food section of your grocery store.  They taste far superior in comparison to raw sesame seeds.

(Pane Mafalda)

Difficulty Rating: Medium
Makes 3 medium loaves or 10 rolls.

2 ½ cups durum flour or fine semolina flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 (1/4 ounce) envelope instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons barley malt syrup or 1 tablespoon honey
8 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Roasted sesame seeds or raw sesame seeds

MAKE THE BREAD DOUGH:  Grease a large bowl with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.  Using a mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine both flours and yeast on low speed for 1 minute.  Add salt and mix for 30 seconds longer.  Add 1 1/2 cups water, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the malt syrup, and beat for 2 minutes, until the dough comes together.  Add a little more water, one tablespoon at a time, if dough seems dry.  Increase speed to medium and beat for 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Gather the dough into a ball and place into the greased bowl.  Turn the dough over once to distribute the oil on top.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about 2 hours, until double in size or refrigerate the dough overnight.  Giving the dough a slow rise in the refrigerator overnight improves the flavor.

SHAPE THE BREAD:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a large baking sheet with vegetable shortening.  Place the dough on a board or counter lightly dusted with flour.

Divide the dough in 3 equal parts for medium loaves or 10 equal parts for rolls.

Roll each piece of dough into a 29-inch long rope (for loaves) or 17-inch long rope (for rolls).

Shape each ball into an “M” shape with a tail, looping and stretching the tail end across the top.  Place on greased baking sheet.  Cover with a clean lint-free towel and let until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

BAKE THE BREAD:  Lightly brush the tops with water and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.  Place the bread in the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until deep golden brown.  Transfer the bread onto a cooling rack.

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