One who has bread never dies.
Pane Pasquelina, or in local dialect known as Su Coccoi or Pane Coccoi.
The designs recall ancient symbols from the many cultural influences in Sardinia. The shapes include the crown, wreathes, the chick, a girl, doves, fish, small baskets, fruits and flowers. Especially for Easter, whole eggs are incorporated into each design, sometimes hidden but often exposed within the design theme. These breads are considered symbols of fertility and good luck. When you look at the intricacies of these artisinal breads, it's surprising to think the only tools used are a small knife and scissors.
and then bake them in a community oven.
- 4 cups Semolina Flour (Pasta Flour) - holding back 1 cup flour to adding as needed
- 1 - 3/4 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Place the yeast into a small bowl with the water. Let it proof for 3-5 minutes
- Put about 1 cup of the flour to start in a stand mixer, adding the salt, then turned on low, mix the dry ingredients.
- Add the yeast/water mix and mix well, slowly adding 1/2 cup of flour at a time until a dough ball begins to form. (The 1 cup of four can be added if needed, but keep in mind, you can always add, but you can't take it out if your dough gets too tough.)
- As soon as the dough begins to take shape, start kneading the dough on low speed for 10-15 minutes. You need to obtain a homogeneous, elastic and consistent dough. It should not be stick, but you don't want it too dense, either. The dough should start to have a smooth surface and be elastic.
- You can pull off a piece to test it: work it with your palms pushing away on your work table, until you you almost feel a crackle under your hands--air bubbles will burst. At this point, the dough is ready. Work the rest of your dough in the same way as your test piece.
Shaping the Dough
- Using scissors or a pasta cutter, cut and then roll out elongated cylinders. Keep the extra dough under plastic wrap as you work.
- Shape as you like using the scissors or a small paring knife.
- Place the freshly prepared breads on lightly floured kitchen cloths, cover them and let them rise for at least two hours.
- After the rise, handling them gently, you can use your knife or scissors to make further decorative cuts.
Preheat your oven to 450 F degrees with the pizza stone on the middle rack. Place a sheet pan on the bottom or lowest rack of your oven at this point.
I suggest using a pizza peel to transfer your breads into the oven and directly onto the pizza stone. If you don't have one, you can use an up-turned sheet pan lined with parchment paper (the paper will slide onto the stone with the dough). Alternately, sprinkle the back of the sheet pan with course cornmeal, then place your shaped breads on top. The cornmeal acts like ball bearings to slide your breads onto the stone.
I don't recommend baking your breads on pans simply because the pans would be cold when placed into the oven. If you do want to use pans instead of a pizza stone, use sturdy, heavy dark pans. They will heat up faster.
Just before placing your breads into your oven, pour about 1/4 cup of water into the hot sheet pan on the lower rack to create steam. Immediately shut the oven door.
Quickly transferring your formed breads into the oven, bake for the first 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then lower the temperature to 350 F degrees and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes. You might want to quickly spray some water onto the oven's side walls halfway through the baking.
Check the browning of the bread and adjust according to your oven. These breads should be a very light tan with a fine textured crumb interior.
Remove from the oven and place on cooling racks to dry and cool completely.
There is another version that adds eggs, so you can experiment in adding eggs while you compensate by adding more flour. You can still eyeball the smoothness and elasticity of the dough when mixing. Remember, making dough for breads and pizza is a feel thing, varying depending on the humidity of the day.
Have a great celebration! Buona Pasqua!