Thursday, February 12, 2015

Semolina Bread what I'm baking this week. It's a light golden, spongy bread that is great for dipping into seasoned olive oil or soaking up saucy dinners. It also slices well for making sandwiches and toast.

I make mine with sourdough starter so it needs to rise at least 12 - 18 hours overnight. I began this loaf at 4pm on Tuesday and baked it at 8am on Wednesday.

In my mixing bowl I put...
2 cups white bread flour
2 cups semolina flour
2 teaspn salt
2 Tblespn olive oil
1/2 cup sourdough starter
and enough water to make it all stick together into a nice springy ball of dough ready for kneading. I hesitate to put a number onto the amount of water since it really depends on the humidity in the air and the quality of the flour. Good springy bread dough is a matter of feel rather than an exact amount.

When it is well mixed but before kneading, it should come away from the sides of the bowl and look a little shaggy like this. Semolina dough is usually so smooth that it can be kneaded on a dry clean surface without extra flour. Although, if it is too sticky or dry you can always mix in a bit of flour or water a little at a time as needed.

Once it's been well kneaded, about 5 minutes, it should be tight, shiny and elastic and ready for rising overnight in an oiled airtight container. I use an old Rubbermaid Cake Saver turned upside down so that the base is now a lid that snaps closed.

Next morning it looks like this, all puffy and loose. Gather it together and let all that gassy air out, folding it in on itself gently two or three times to shape it into the kind of loaf you want. It works well round or long.

Since I have an old cast iron fish-poacher that happens to be perfectly loaf shaped, I'll use it to bake my semolina bread. But first the dough has to proof for an hour in a parchment and flour lined linen towel. I make a little nest like this...

...and wrap it up in a basket.

Since I'm using all sourdough with no additional yeast, and it's a cold February, this dough will take about an hour to proof until it is ready to bake. Once again, it should be puffy but still hold its shape, like this. The parchment is for lifting the dough straight into the preheated loaf pan without disturbing the dough itself. The dough in the pan and the lid on, it all goes straight into a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then lid off for another 15-20 minutes and then...

....out of the oven like this. Lift the loaf out of the pan to cool on a wire rack.

Notice that the crust doesn't split. I think this is because there is oil in the dough which makes for a softer, more pliable crust. When using just water in a basic recipe, the crust is thick and brittle and needs help expanding with slashes across the top. Not so with semolina.


Connie said...

Looks great! I love the smell of fresh-baked bread.

Trish said...

It's such a warm, homey smell, isn't it? I wish it would linger in the house longer, but alas.