Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TWD: Baking with Julia - Semolina Bread

After quite a few baked sweets, Tuesdays with Dorie planned a bread for this month!  It is a Semolina Bread, and can be found on page 102 of Baking with Julia, or you can also find the recipe at Renee's blog, The Way to My Family's Heart, or at Anna's blog, Keep it Luce

I love homemade bread and for reasons even I don't really know, I don't make it much.  I even have a great cookbook Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day, and I still don't make it very often.  Oh, and by the way, that cookbook works!  I totally recommend it.  For some reason, I bake bread in spurts.  I do it all the time and then we have a huge drought of baked bread.  Currently, I am telling myself that when we get our new kitchen, I'll bake more breads as I'll have more space.  I am not sure what my excuse will be when our new house is actually built, but this excuse works for now!

This bread is thankfully very forgiving.  The recipe, though not difficult, takes a LONG time, as you let the "sponge" sit a while and then there are 2 rises for the bread.  Thus I kept forgetting that I was baking bread and a WAY longer amount of time than called for would pass before I would think, "oh, yeah, the bread!!"  Terrible!

For this recipe, first you make the sponge.  A sponge is a fermentation starter.  Using this method to bake bread, the yeast gets more time to work on the starch and protein in the dough, which is supposed to improve the keeping time of dough and create a bread with more complex flavors.  The sponge is made of yeast and equal parts water and flour.  Mix it together and let it sit for 2 HOURS.



This is actually the second sponge I made.  The first one I promptly forgot about so when I remembered 4 hours later (instead of 2) I worried that I might have ruined it somehow and made another one.  This time I set a timer.  To be honest, the one I threw away looked exactly like this one, so it probably would have been fine.

The recipe provided an option to use a food processor instead of a mixer.  I thought that sounded interesting, since I have never made bread in a food processor before, so I chose that method.  Into the processor goes the sponge, all purpose flour, semolina flour, salt and olive oil.  Upon the overwhelming recommendation of several TWD bakers who got to this recipe ahead of me, I reduced the amount of salt in the recipe from 2 tsp. to 1 1/2 tsp.  The end result was good and I think more salt would have been a bad idea, so I am so glad I read those reviews!  Thanks, bakers!

The ingredients get mixed up and then if necessary, more all purpose flour gets added so the dough balls around the blades.  I needed the extra flour.  Once there a sticky ball around the food processor blade, the dough goes into a lightly oiled bowl to rest for another 2 hours.

3 hours later, I remembered I was supposed to be doing something with the bread.  Ugh.  To be fair, I was watching recorded episodes of MI-5, or Spooks as it was called in the UK.  I LOVE that show.  It is so much better than television programming here in the states.  It totally helped when my secret (ooops!) boyfriend Richard Armitage was on the show, but I liked it before he was on and I like it after he left.  There just isn't my eye candy anymore.  Mr. Clever Mom is probably secretly pleased....  Anyway, if you haven't watched MI-5, it is one of those shows that takes all of your attention.  I cannot knit or make a grocery list or do any of the other multi-tasking projects I would normally do when watching television.  Obviously I also can not bake bread while watching MI-5!

Now I started to worry because, yes indeed, there was supposed to be ANOTHER 2 hour rise and it was 10pm.  That doesn't bode well.

I shaped the dough, put it on parchment, and loosely covered it with lightly oiled plastic wrap.  And then I put it in the refrigerator overnight!  I just hoped and prayed that this would slow down but not screw up the second rise.  It worked!! 

In the morning, I let the dough come to room temperature and then made slashes in the top with an x-acto blade.  You are supposed to use a razor blade but this is what I had, and it worked! 

 
Out of the oven came this beautiful, golden loaf of bread.  Yahoo!  
 
It's delicious!  It has a nice crisp crust and a soft, chewy, puffy inside.  It is really good!  I can hardly believe that with all of my time screw-ups, it worked!  I wonder how much better it might have been if I had actually been timely about it?? 

I am totally thrilled that I had success with this bread.  Besides the fact that I think home-made bread is simply heavenly, now I have something to do with the rest of the semolina flour I purchased!  I will definitely make this again.  And maybe I'll try making pasta with some of that flour, since semolina is often used as pasta flour...  Anyone out there have pasta successes they want to share??


22 comments:

  1. You baked a beautiful boule with a great crumb! This is a keeper for me too

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  2. Good to know you can finish it in the morning! I love the texture of this bread. I'll make it again, but with less salt!

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    1. It was a gamble, sticking it in the refrigerator, but it worked! I agree on less salt. I could probably reduce it another 1/4 tsp, making it 1 1/4 tsp instead. I wonder if the author used kosher salt? That could account for the difference.

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  3. Sharron,

    Amazing how your bread came out with a higher rise than mine. It looks so good!
    I'll be making pasta with the semolina flour that is in my pantry. Will let you know what recipe I choose when I make it. :)

    Carmen
    http://bakingismyzen.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/twd-baking-with-julia-semolina-bread/

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    1. Thanks! I'd love to give pasta a try!

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  4. ABin5 is a great book.
    I have been on a bread hiatus for the past few weeks - but I think that's mostly because my bread baking day has been tied up doing other things.
    Lovely loaf!

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    1. It is certainly hard to fit in bread baking when it takes as long as this one... I found it difficult to multi-task with this bread!

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  5. Glad you loved the bread and it really is a very good recipe! By the way, to answer the question you posted in my blog regarding steaming the oven, if I'm only baking one loaf I normally create a steamy environment around the loaf by covering it with a large Asian clay bowl (the one used for their soups) the first 20 minutes then removing it the rest of the bake. Another effective method is putting a baking pan filled with a few pieces of kitchen towel that is soaking wet with hot water on the lower rack of the oven about 30 minutes before baking...this creates the perfect steamy environment prior to loading the breads.

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    1. Oooh, thanks! I will give that a try!

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  6. I don't know about making pasta but I do know I'll make this bread again. It was wonderful. agreed.

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    1. Me too! I just have to pay more attention to the clock next time!

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  7. Your bread rose beautifully - that is one handsome loaf.

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  8. When you get past all the rises, this bread is actually a snap to make. I love how your slashes turned out and how lovely your loaf looks.

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    1. Thanks. Now we have to find more uses for all of our semolina flour! I'll be making more bread....

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  9. I really need to look for semolina flour!!! This bread looks great!

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  10. I didn't get to make this one with the rest of the group, but your picture of the finished bread looks SO GOOD that I want to track down some semolina flour so I can make it during the make up TWD day later this month! Yummy.

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