PanettoneThe book is called Nick Malgieri’s Bread: Over 60 Breads, Rolls and Cakes Plus Delicious Recipes Using Them, but you’ll love it as much for the desserts, salads, and soups as for the wonderful breads.

This is a luscious collection—mouthwatering delights with every turn of the page. It’s the perfect choice—and a great gift—for anyone who’s ever wanted to bake bread but feared it was too difficult, messy, or costly. Malgieri, director of the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York and the author of nearly a dozen cookbooks, demonstrates that nothing could be farther from the truth.

He offers recipes for breads and sweets for holidays and for every day that can be made without special equipment and without toil and trouble, and he shares delicious accompaniments to the breads, such as Tuscan Mushroom, Tomato & Bread Soup; dishes made with bread or breadcrumbs, such as Mexican-Style Meatballs and Sicilian Pasta With Breadcrumbs; and extraordinary sandwiches such as Tortas de Carnitas or the Miss Baltimore Crab Cake Sandwich.

At this time of year, begin with three of Malgieri’s treats that are just right for the holidays: a Viennese coffee cake, a semolina bread, and a Christmas staple, the panettone.

Pane de Semolina RimacinataBread
(Sicilian “Remilled” Semolina Bread)

The bright yellow crumb of this bread comes from 100% durum flour in the dough. Since semolina is coarsely ground durum wheat that looks like  cornmeal, the bread’s name refers to the re-milling of coarse semolina into flour. (See the book for more information on durum flour.) Until recently in Sicily, especially in small towns, much of this type of bread was made in the home and taken to a communal oven to be baked. A home baker knew nothing of poolish or other types of pre-ferments, but achieved similar results by saving a piece of dough and storing it wrapped in a cool place until the next batch of dough was prepared with it a few days later. The recipe here uses a poolish with similar results.

Makes one 9- to 10-inch round loaf

All-Durum Poolish
1⁄3 cup room-temperature tap water, about 75˚F
1⁄4 teaspoon fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
1⁄2 cup + 1 tablespoon durum flour

All-Durum Dough
1 cup room-temperature tap water, about 75˚F
1 teaspoon fine granulated active dry or instant yeast
23⁄4 cups durum flour (spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off)
11⁄2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1⁄2 cup sesame seeds for finishing

One heavy cookie sheet or pizza pan dusted with cornmeal, plus a spray bottle filled with warm water

1. For the poolish, whisk the water and yeast together in a small bowl. Stir in the flour smoothly. Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment at roomCoffee-Cake temperature until more than doubled in bulk, about 4 hours.
2. For the dough, pour the water into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk in the yeast; wait 30 seconds and whisk again. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the poolish.
3. Combine the flour and salt and use the spatula to stir this into the mixer bowl a little at a time. Make sure all the flour is mixed into the liquid and there isn’t any clinging to the side of the bowl.
4. Place the bowl on the mixer and attach the dough hook. Mix on lowest speed until the dough comes together around the hook, 1 to 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and pull the dough away from the hook; let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
5. Increase the mixer to low/medium and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and turn it over so that the top is oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough ferment until it starts to puff, about 30 minutes.
6. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and, with floured hands, pull into a rough rectangle. Fold the two sides in to overlap at the middle, then roll the top toward you jelly-roll style. Invert, flatten, and repeat. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let ferment until fully doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
7. To shape the dough into a loaf, use a flexible plastic scraper to slide it from the bowl, smooth side up, to a floured work surface without deflating the dough. Round the loaf by pushing against the bottom of the dough all around with the sides of your hands held palms upward. It will quickly form an even sphere.
8. Place the dough on the prepared pan and loosely cover it with a flat-weave towel or piece of sprayed or oiled plastic wrap. Let rest until it starts to puff again, about 30 minutes. As soon as you cover the loaf, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 450˚F.
9. Once the dough has proofed to about 50% larger than its original size, flour the palms of your hands and gently press to flatten it to about 1 inch thick. Use an X-Acto knife or single-edge razor blade to cut 3 or 4 1⁄8-inch deep slashes across the loaf, then 3 or 4 more at a 45-degree angle to the first ones. Generously spray the loaf with water and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.
10. Place in the oven and wait 5 minutes, again; reduce the temperature to 425˚F. Bake until well risen and deep golden, with an internal temperature of 200˚F, about 20 to 25 minutes.
11. Cool the loaf on a rack and serve on the day it’s baked. Double wrap and freeze for longer storage. Defrost, reheat at 350˚F for 3 minutes, and cool before serving.

TD&N Nutrient Analysis (based on 12 servings): Calories: 211; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 243 mg; Carbohydrates: 39 g; Fiber: 8 g; Protein: 8 g