[Sca-cooks] 'mpanata, impanata, torta genovese, etc.

Christiane christianetrue at earthlink.net
Tue Jan 2 14:09:30 PST 2007

Hello, everyone!

I took two months off from the list because I spent a good chunk in November in Italy. A week in Sicily and three days in Rome.

In eyeing the past threads, I saw the one on torta genovese. I may have some insight into the "well-kneaded dough" aspect of it.

In Sicily, a popular dish is called "'mpanata," most often translated as "bread pie." Yes, this came into the vocabulary when the Spaniards held Sicily, starting with the Aragon dynasty in the 1300s.

The fillings for 'mpanata vary from city to city in Sicily, but are pretty much savory for the most part.  Caciocavallo cheese, lamb sausage, cauliflower, and broccoli, are the popular ones. Also to be found are chard and sundried tomato, spinach and ricotta cheese ... pretty much if it could be stuck in there, it was stuck in there. For New Year's Eve, I made two 'impanate with fresh spinach, sundried tomato, black olives, a little parmesan cheese, and some chopped garlic, with generous dashes of lemon pepper.

The "crusts" were a semolina flour bread dough:

7 1/2 cups of semolina flour (I had to settle for a coarser grade semolina rather than fine durum wheat, because that's all I could find
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 packets of powdered dry yeast
1/4 cup of olive oil
sea salt

Combine yeast with one cup of the lukewarm water; set aside for 15 minutes until foam comes to the top. Dump your flour into a bowl, making a well in the middle. Add the foamy yeast water; mix it through the flour with your fingers, rubbing the dough between your fingers for a uniform texture. Add the rest of the water, a little at a time; when you have a dough that holds together, dump it on a semolina-floured board and knead it for 3 or 4 minutes. Punch the dough a few times to release the gluten, shape it into a ball, and put it into an oiled bowl for 45 minutes. When the dough has almost doubled inside and has started to crack, dump it on a floured board or table top again, flatten it, and sprinkle it with sea salt and about 1/3 of the olive oil. Fold the dough and knead it until the olive oil is absorbed, then flatten it again, add salt and olive oil, knead again. Do this one more time. Then take your dough and separate it into three balls. Set one ball aside to rise for a loaf of bread; take the other two balls and divide each ball in half. Flatten out the pieces into circles. Take two 9-inch pie pans, grease them, and lay a circle of dough in each. Add your filling, and then lay the other circle of dough on top, sealing the edges of the dough with your fingers. Prick the top with a few times to vent, and bake at 350-400 degrees, for about an hour.

So for the torta genovese, the "well-kneaded dough" could have very well been bread dough, but maybe made with a fine white flour instead of durum wheat.


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