sesame semolina breads

July 17, 2012 § 16 Comments

Breakfast – slices of sesame semolina toast, Farmer Mark’s fresh chèvre, apricot jam I just made a few days ago and my favorite locally roasted coffee!

Noted Italian baker, cookbook writer and culinary instructor Nick Malgieri’s semolina bread from Baking with Julia seemed to get mixed reviews from the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group. Semolina bread happens to be one of the non-whole grain breads I really like, probably because I also love pasta (yes, also the non-whole wheat type which tends to break up when I cook it). With a couple of tweaks, the bread was easy to get together in an afternoon in time for dinner with leftovers for toast the next morning. The original recipe can be found here and here if you don’t have the book. Changes I made to the recipe included:

  1. reducing the rise time for the sponge from 2 to 1 hour by using instant yeast in place of active dry
  2. reducing the salt from 2 to 1 teaspoon
  3. reducing both the bulk rise and shaped loaf proof times to an hour or less
  4. preheating the oven to 500°F, then dropping it to 425ºF for baking (with steam)
  5. reducing the bake time to just over 25 minutes (BTW at altitude, there’s no way to get to 210°F internal temperature without completely drying the loaf; remember water turns to steam and disappears at 200°F at a mile high)

Of course some of these changes are inter-related. Since salt slows yeast activity, the rise and proof times were shortened since I used a lot less salt. I think I actually reduced the salt a little too much. I used kosher salt, so a teaspoon of kosher is LESS than a teaspoon of fine grain salt (think, a bucket of gravel weighs less than the same bucket of sand, because there is a lot more air space between the larger pieces of gravel/Kosher salt). This could also account for some of the perceived saltiness of this recipe, besides different taste preferences.

I raised the baking temperature to get better oven rise (“oven spring”) and color on the loaves, and to keep the bread’s crumb moist. Breads can sometimes dry out from longer bake times needed to brown the crust at lower temperatures. And I always bake breads on a well heated stone (500°F) with some water to steam the oven, which also helps with oven spring and crust color.

The sponge was bubbly, fragrant and well-risen after an hour so I added the rest of the ingredients to make the dough.

The final dough quickly came together and I covered it to rise for about an hour.

The dough was slightly over risen after just an hour, so I gently rounded it to give the gluten a little more strength. I covered it with the bowl to protect it from drying while it rested for just 5-10 minutes.

I had mixed a double batch, so I divided the dough in half. I gently stretched and then folded the half into thirds, like a letter. I then rolled and gently pressed the dough together from top to bottom, gave the loaf a final roll on the board and tucked the ends in towards the bottom seam.

Here’s the shaped loaf before I coated it with raw sesame seeds. To do this, I dampened a kitchen towel and laid it on a sheet pan along with a generous amount of seeds. I rolled the top side of the loaf on the wet towel, and then on the bed of seeds. You could also spritz the top of the loaf with water from a sprayer.

Here are the shaped loaves after they’ve been rolled in seeds, ready to proof on the parchment-lined sheet pan.

I placed the pan with the loaves into a large plastic bag and trapped some air inside so they proofed without touching the plastic. Meanwhile I preheated the oven with a baking stone to 500°F for at least a half hour. Definitely needed the A/C on for the bake!

Here are the finished burnished loaves just out of the oven. The seeds made it a little harder to score the tops before baking, and if I scored a little deeper, the loaves could open up a little more. But I was pretty happy with the result of a simple tasty bread, good by itself, and made even better with farmstead chèvre and jam made from local seasonal fruit.

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§ 16 Responses to sesame semolina breads

  • Mary Hirsch says:

    I wish I were a more generous person, Marilyn, but I must admit to being a bit miffed with you. I have been waiting all day for your Post aaaaaaand it would have been nice to have it yesterday. All these tips, whether I am in high altitude or not (and, I wasn’t for this recipe) would have been helpful. Really, Marilyn, you must think of others!!!!! There are five different things I could have done to make my bread better. I didn’t even do the “slashing” at the right time. I don’t think you slashed at all. And, my bread didn’t taste half-bad, it was good. (I’ve eaten 1/2 loaf by myself already.) One of the TWD/BWJ crew used sun-dreid tomatoes, etc., in her bread. It looked delicious. Soooooo, I intend to use your tips and her additives the next time I bake this bread. In the next month. Like the sesame seeds too. Heading back to the High Country. Intend to put you on Speed Dial. Hope you’re feeling well. (Probably not, since I’ve laid you low in this comment.)

    • Piebird says:

      Ouch! Yes, Mary, I have been slacking a bit on the baking and cooking posting (just the posting part of it). I’m not as disciplined as you, and certainly wouldn’t be setting the alarm to watch the Tour, although I’m enjoying the parts during my normal waking hours. Have a safe trip home. Just don’t expect me to answer between the hours of 10pm-6am!

  • Emese says:

    Coating with sesame seeds are a hit. I really like the idea. Your loafs are beautiful.

  • Semolina bread really benefits from the steam, I also used it and the crust was incredibly crusty… but I forgot the sesame seeds, they look so gorgeous! So many tips, I will link to this page next time I post a bread so I don´t have to write the details…jaja
    But let me tell you your homemade apricot jam blew my hat off! A good piece of toasted bread, some salty cheese and a homemade jam, that´s a regular lunch for me. Your first pic is mouthwatering. Have a great week Marilyn!

    • Piebird says:

      I really loved your beautiful pea puree bruschetta too, Paula! This time of year, we could do something similar with fava beans, although the season is ending soon.

  • Yvonne says:

    I didn’t get to bake the semolina bread this week but yours looks so good!!! Makes me want to try a slice :)

  • Yum! Your bread looks great! I used instant yeast and kosher salt as well and we were very happy with the results. You are right, a baking stone makes a big difference.

  • Your loaves look beautiful and yummy!

  • Paul says:

    Love your posts. I feel I learn a bunch from your wealth of tips and alterations, as well as explaining the why in addition to the what.

    Do you find you get more rise at higher altitude ?

    • Piebird says:

      Thanks so much, Paul! I used to teach at a culinary school (pastry and baking mostly), so this is a good outlet for me right now. Good point, breads can rise faster at higher altitude, so if it’s noticeable or compromises flavor, you can reduce the amount of yeast. Usually I don’t notice much of a difference for yeasted breads, since there are so many other variables that affect bread making.

  • Margaret says:

    I’m glad I didn’t make the semolina bread yet, because I really needed to read this!

  • Teresa says:

    I’m really enjoying the bread-baking tips and tricks I’ve been seeing on a few of this week’s posts. Your loaves look beautiful!

  • Cathleen says:

    Wow! Thanks for the baking lesson. Your loaves look great.

  • Cher says:

    I am having apricot on bread envy right now :-)
    I used Kosher salt @ the full amount suggested in the recipe and didn’t find it too salty. It is always enjoyable to read your posts on baking.

  • Your loaves are beautiful! I like the sesame seeds on top. Thanks for all the tips. I think I’ll try steam next time I make this.

  • mireia says:

    Now i’m jealous… this bread looks absoutlely perfect!!

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