Semolina Bread

Although I have owned “Baking With Julia” for more than a dozen years, prior to joining Tuesdays With Dorie, I only managed to make a few recipes from the book.  Semolina Bread from baking instructor Nick Malgieri was one of those recipes.  It was long enough ago, that I don’t remember much about this bread.  I must not have thought it that remarkable, though I bet it was after making this bread that I started incorporating a bit of semolina (or a finer ground durum flour when I can find it) into my pizza dough, also from “Baking With Julia”.

This week’s recipe is hosted by Anna of Keep it Luce and Renee of The Way to My Family’s Heart.  You can find the full recipe at either of their blogs, or in the print edition of “Baking With Julia”.

Anyhow, having just made the 400+ mile drive up from Southern California on Sunday, I decided I would keep things simple and make the dough by hand.  And I have to say the push and pull of kneading was relaxing for hands that had been gripping a steering wheel for 7 hours the day before.

For the sponge’s first rise, I set the dough in my oven with just the light on.  That’s usually enough to get things going, but an hour in there was nothing close to a doubling of the dough.  So I gave the oven some heat for a minute or two, something I would repeat for each subsequent rise.  All told, each of the two hour rises were closer to three hours.

Completed dough after first rise

After forming the dough and given it its second rise, the dough had flattened outward rather than risen much upward.  Not wanting a flat loaf, I transferred the dough to a 9×5 loaf pan, unintentionally deflating it in the process.  So my dough got a third rise; I then snipped the slashes as a paring knife wasn’t working for me.

Shaped and snipped loaf

Baking time was between 35 and 40 minutes, the last 10 minutes or so out of the pan.  Unlike the white loaves, the sides of the semolina loaf had acquired a good measure of color while still in the pan.

Finished loaf, from my hands to your screen

Sliced bread with quarter for scale

Even with the pan to contain it, the loaf did not rise much.  Slices reveal nice airy interior, though when you compare the slices to the U.S. quarter, you can see just how small the bread ended up.  Having read of the experiences and research by a few of our fellow bakers, it sounds like my experience was about on par.

I would consider making the bread again.  I would probably cut the salt down to 1 1/2 teaspoons (I use Morton’s Kosher Salt — that would equate to maybe 1 tsp. of regular table salt).  I’d also try using bread flour in place of the all-purpose to see if that might give the dough a little more strength to rise.

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12 Responses to Semolina Bread

  1. Emese says:

    Yours turned out to be real bread size. Nice.

  2. Marilyn Freese says:

    Talked w/ your Mom & said in the past when I’ve made bread, I’ve added a slight amount of gluten which comes in small packages. The gluten helps with setting a network of rising. Just a thought 🙂

    • Paul says:

      I have bread flour, I didn’t use it this time though since the recipe called for all-purpose flour. I’ve seen Vital Wheat Gluten from Bob’s Red Mill, but it’s sold in a 1 lb. bag. I would need to be making enough bread to stock a bakery to use that much. As you say, they recommend around 1 Tbs for every cup of flour.

  3. judy says:

    So, your “made this with Chocolate” comment caught my eye. I’m actually in awe that your were able to knead by hand. My dough was really, really, sticky and I didn’t want to add too much flour. In the end, I found the bread tasty.
    your bread looks lovely and rose beautifully.

    • Paul says:

      I started kneading after adding 1/2 cup of the 3/4 cups flour called for in the recipe, adding additional flour if the dough was sticking too much. A metal or plastic bench scraper really helps getting the dough up off your board. And the as you knead, I’ve found the dough gets less sticky.

  4. Piebird says:

    Must still be very cool where you live/bake for the rises to take 3 hours! My son lives in SF Bay area, and I noticed it was only 59 there, compared to our 90-100 days here in Colorado. Trying the bread flour is a good idea, although it could be that the gluten weakened a bit due to the extra rise.

  5. spike says:

    Yep, I had the same rising problems. Looks nice though!

  6. Cathleen says:

    I’m wondering if this bread is supposed to be a flat bread -with as many people having the same issue.
    Your chocolate comment got a “rise” out of me – funny!

    • Paul says:

      I wanted to be able to make a sandwich, and a 2″ tall loaf wasn’t going to work for me. So I threw it in a pan. Piebird baked her load differently, starting with a hotter oven and using steam, both of which she says will induce a higher rise. Makes sense, I’ll try that next time, as the flavor of this bread is good.

      Chocolate — I do what I can!

  7. Cher says:

    Man, I came here for a chocolate semolina loaf 🙂
    Looks good – I was able to get decent structure just using durum & A/P, but bread flour is a good idea on this one. I sneak VWG into most of my breads (I keep it on hand to make seitan -so no bakery required…)

  8. Jessica says:

    Paul, I would like to know if you have a great lamb recipe. You definitely seem to know your way around the kitchen. I would LOVE for you to knead and pull my dough. Write me back. 🙂

    • Paul says:

      Editors Note: The above comment from “Jessica” is a special piece of spam I decided to keep around rather than delete. “Jessica” is in fact one of my older brothers, evidence that immaturity knows no age. In his case, 40 is the new 20. 😛

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