It seems since I learned about miller Fillipo Drago, I wanted to see him at work. I finally got the chance in my Sicilian pilgrimage this summer. Here are some of the sights and sounds at his mill in Castelvetrano.
It's been a while since I've baked with Sicilian flour, specifically grain from Castelvetrano and the miller Filippo Drago of Molini del Ponte. What a surprise when my friend Judy Witts Francini messaged me and posted this video. In fact Judy schlepped a five kilo bag of Palimento flour from Sicily to Florence, and then all the way to New York City, delivering it to me. Using the flour, I've made two loaves so far, and will use it to make Pane Nero, as well as other loaves. Grazie! For the video and for bringing the flour to me. And thanks to Maestro Filippo for the wonderful gift!
What's grano arso? It's a legendary grain produced by Italian peasants within burnt fields of Puglia. The denuted grain lacks strength in developing dough, but it packs a punch of flavor. To work with it, use a ratio of 1.3 using traditional flour. Using it recently, my advice for an open crumb is to use a cold retard and more-than-usual amounts of water. Nevertheless, it was delicious. Next batch I'll use some recently acquired grano miracolo (miracle grain) from Molino Grassi. I'm looking forward to even richer flavor.
Just the other day I recieved a 5 kilo bag of Skura, from Atalanta corp., through the auspices of my friend Domenico Bianco.Antonino Esposito who developed it for Molino Pivetti uses it to make pizza nera, with the smokey toasted grano arso. Skura is a a mixture of "00", semola rimacinata, and grano arso a toasted wheat from Puglia. I've tried some bread and even croissants with it so far, a learning curve to understand the properties and first there was pizza! Success's and failures will be shared!
Since I had a grain mill attachment for my Kitchen Aid, I decided to mill my own flour. I had milled some grains before, primarily rye, when I wasn't able to get access to certain types of grinds that aren't readily available in stores.
On a recent visit to a farmer's market, I had purchased farro and rye, intending to use rye in German style breads and farro for salads. Milling farro to make my own flour didn't come into my mind. In truth, I wasn't so sure what farro was, whether it was emmer, spelt or einkorn? William Rubel, bread historian and author, had originally introduced me to farro, writing about this Italian based "ethnobotanic." According to him, it "encompasses three hulled wheats: einkorn, emmer, and spelt," each very "different from each other, especially einkorn." But often, farro is mislabled for spelt. To clarify what type of farro I had, I got in touch with Gregory Mol,from Trumansburg Flour, who works for the mill which produces Cayuga's grain. It checked out that my farro was indeed emmer.
My grain milled, I decided to try making both pretzels and an adaption of an Italian bread "pane di farro". Like freshly milled whole grain flours that I had purchased before, emmer had similar characteristics to spelt. It was a very active dough. I decided using a higher level levain in the final dough, thinking that without added commercial yeast, it might give it a boost, since it was whole grain. The difference in the flour is also evident in comparing it to store bought flours, which always have a conditioned feel and flavor. My foray into home milling will continue with grains I have purchased, including, freekeh( a green spelt that is roasted), rye, and whatever local grains I can find.