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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.