Angela has been hinting to me for several years that I needed to try to make semolina bread. It’s not that I was against making it, it was just that I never got around to it. Whenever I thought about it, I’d look at the recipe and realize that it required a starter and that I simply didn’t have the time to get it ready for dinner. So I kept putting it off.
A combination of factors led to me actually making the semolina bread but the primary reason was that I had to go to the opposite side of the country for work the next week and I wanted to make something special for Angela before I left. Given that she was out all Saturday, meant that I could sit around and make the various sponges and doughs required without being dragged out of the apartment by a girl with wanderlust.
As a bit of an aside, I should mention that I make bread fairly frequently to have with dinner. I don’t do a particularly complicated bread but it tastes pretty good (and someday I may post the recipe on here). It doesn’t use a sponge or a starter. I let it rise two times if I have the time available. It’s never exactly the same any time but everyone who’s had it likes it.
Making the semolina bread was quite different than what I usually make. The sponge was easy enough: just mix the yeast, water, and bread flour together and let it sit. For the actual dough, I make it in a food processor for the first time (I usually use a KitchenAid mixer but I recently got a Cuisinart food processor and thought I’d give it a try). The dough came together quite well in the food processor and didn’t give me any difficulty. I was surprised by how quickly the dough was ready, kneading included. It almost seems wrong for the kneading to only take 20 seconds. Of course, you can always switch to kneading by hand.
The bread itself was good but I don’t think I could eat it every day. It was almost too flavorful. The semolina becomes one of the dominant flavors in the bread. I wonder if it might be better if it was made without a starter.
Adapted from Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers
1 cup warm water
1 tsp dry yeast
1 cup bread flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp olive oil
- To make the sponge, pour the water into a bowl and whisk in the yeast. When the yeast has dissolved, stir in the flour. Cover and place in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2 hours.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, put the sponge, 1/2 cup of the flour, the semolina flour, the salt, and the olive oil. Pulse until the dough forms a ball. If the dough does not form a ball, add more flour by the tablespoonful then pulse, until the dough does form a ball.
- After the dough has formed a ball, let the dough rest for 5 minutes then run the food processor for 20 seconds straight to knead the dough.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and place in a well oiled bowl. Cover the bowl and put it in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume, about 2 hours.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured work surface. Pat the dough into an oval shape and then roll it gently to form a plump loaf.
- Transfer the loaf to parchment lined baking sheet and cover. Allow it to rest until it doubles in volume, about 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- After the loaf has doubled in size, cut marks into the side of the loaf at a 30º diagonal to vertical, spaced at 1″ intervals.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown.
- Allow to cool and then serve.
Makes 1 loaf.