You Gonna Eat All That?

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Semolina Bread

I just made the best looking bread ever! I was doubting myself there for a while but I kept going and when the dough was finally kneaded I knew I was on to something good. And this bread kicks ass.

Many years ago when I lived in Nashville, I discovered sesame semolina bread. It was love at first buttery bite. And every now and then I still get a craving for it. My most recent craving was sparked last while I was trying to get over a nasty little cold. I wanted something bready but couldn't quite put my finger on what I wanted. That's when I saw a picture of semolina bread called Pane Siciliano in The Bread Baker's Apprentice. That was all I needed to get the gears in motion. On Friday I was finally back among the living and we were in need of groceries so I headed to the store. One my list, semolina flour.

Last night I began to really look at the recipe for and realized it was going to take 3 days to put together. Rats. I didn't have have three days but I did see another recipe online that only took 2 days. So I struck a compromise by using the recipe for the 2 day version but shaped the bread like the Pane Siciliano.

But I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out when I first started. For one thing, the started didn't look right. It was too firm not loose like the recipe called for but I went ahead and set it to rest overnight anyway. By morning, it was about three times it's size but still looked too dense. I still plowed ahead and once I had the dough mixed and partially kneaded in my mixer, I turned it out onto the counter and began to knead it by hand. I knew almost immediately that what I had was spot on. After a few minutes of kneading I had what was just about the most perfect dough I've ever put together, silky smooth and elastic. An hour of rising provided me more confidence that the bread was going to turn out good. I punched it down, divided it into 4 parts and rolled it out, rolled it up then coiled it from opposite ends to form an "S".

Two loaves got egg washed and sprinkled with sesame seeds and the other two just got egg wash. A second rising and then they were baked.

The result: amazing! Half of one sesame loaf is already gone. Thankfully I now have starter on hand so I can make more in just one day!


1/4 cup warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons water, room temperature
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

2 1/2 cups warm water (105°F.°F. to 115°F.)
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 3/4 cups finely ground semolina flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
Additional semolina flour

For Starter:
Combine 1/4 cup warm water and yeast in medium bowl. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons room temperature water. Add flour in 3 additions, stirring well after each addition Stir until mixture has consistency of thick sticky dough, about three minutes. Light oil large bowl. Transfer starter to a bowl. Cover with plastic; let rise at cool room temperature until tripled in volume (starter will be slightly wet and thick), at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Stir down starter, cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)

For Bread
Pour 2 1/2 cups warm water into large bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Sprinkle yeast over; let stand until dissolved, about 10 minutes. Measure 2/3 cup starter (reserve remainder for another use). Rub between fingers, allowing starter to drop into yeast mixture (starter will be stringy). Beat until some of the starter dissolves. Combine flour, 3 3/4 cups semolina and salt in large bowl. Add to yeast mixture in 3 additions; beat until incorporated. Turn out unto floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.

Oil large bowl. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic. Let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Butter 2 heavy large baking sheets. Punch down dough. Divide into 4 pieces. Cover 3 pieces with clean towel. Roll remaining piece on floured surface to 14x8 inch rectangle. Starting at 1 long edge, roll up dough jelly roll style. Press ends and seam to seal. Coil the dough from opposite ends in opposite directions to form an "S" , repeat rolling and shaping with remaining dough pieces. You can apply an egg wash and cover the bread with sesame seeds if you like.

Cover shaped dough with clean towel. Let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450°F. If you are using baking stones, let them sit in oven for 30 minutes once it reaches 450 to assure even heating.

Place 1 baking sheet on each stone. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, alternating sheets between racks halfway through baking, about 25 minutes. Cool bread on racks. Makes 4 small loaves.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful bread! I am very impressed. You have reason to be proud!

4:34 PM  
Blogger PatL said...

Barbara, your bread is GORGEOUS! I took a bread-baking class right before Christmas because it was on my 2006 cooking resolutions and because I was always kind of intimidated by yeast breads. It was really helpful to know what the dough was supposed to feel like when you're done kneading it. We made some semolina loafs in exactly the shape you did, plus we did some braids. Easier than it looks!

I got your question about Simba. Drop me a line at pat dot langille at gmail and I'll send you a quick update. No time for blog posts these days, buried in busyness! But the short answer is he's doing really, really well, all things considered, and thankee kindly for asking!

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daughter, I'm proud of you. The loaves look so professional. Guess I trained my children well as far as kitchen prowess is concerned. Love ya, Mom

10:51 AM  
Blogger Brilynn said...

That really is the best looking bread ever! Nicely done!

11:06 AM  
Blogger s'kat said...

I can practically taste how good they must be! Bravo!

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those look store bought (fancy bakery, not grocery store!). I wish I had the talent to make my bread look as nice. I also hope you are feeling better.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pretty 's' shaped loaves! my daughter, samia, woill love these!

6:27 PM  
Blogger Lien said...

It really does look great this bread! Isn't it great when breadloafs have a nice shape. And it tastes good too, for I've tried this one what else do you need!
Great picture!

6:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks a lot like this recipe >>

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the recipe suitable for additons like raisins and cranberries? I am also looking to make a simple straight long loaf instead of the "s" shape. Will this work?

3:12 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

This isn't a sweet dough so I don't think raisins or cranberries would go that well. Of course, you could experiment and add some honey or sugar to the dough to help sweeten it up a little.

And this bread can be made as a regular loaf instead of the "S".
You might want to look at one of my first posts back in 2005 on cinnamon raisin bread, easy to make and delicious!

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Dazy said...

I'm trying this today. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Reshmy said...

GORGEOUS!! What a lovely idea to shape it into an S. have never seen a bread shaped that way before but love how it looks. What was the grain like? Would have loved to see the cross section too!

2:04 AM  

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