Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal -- janessweets.blogspot.com -- May 2012

(This recipe is adapted from one found at this link on The Fresh Loaf blog; within The Fresh Loaf, the recipe is credited to artisan baker Daniel Leader, from his book, Local Breads, and there it’s called Semolina Sandwich Bread.)

Semolina Olive Oil Bread, with Sesame Seeds (or Not!)

 

Yield: Two standard size loaves

 

Generously grease two bread pans with vegetable shortening.

3 cups (liquid measure) of room temperature water (about 70-75 degrees)

2 teaspoons of instant yeast (If you need to use active dry yeast instead, use 25 percent more than the indicated measurement for instant yeast. Use a little bit of the warm water to proof the active dry yeast before using it in the recipe. Instant yeast does not require proofing--that's one of its best benefits!)

2 and 3/4 cups of semolina flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand is a good choice and not too hard to find.)

2 and 1/2 cups of bread flour

3 and 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1 tablespoon of sea salt or coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup (liquid measure) extra-virgin olive oil

Into a large bowl, measure all of the dry ingredients and lightly whisk them together.

 

Into the large bowl of your mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, pour all of the water and oil. On the lowest speed, add in the dry ingredients about a cup at a time and mix until a loose dough forms. Remove the paddle, scraping it off, and switch to the dough hook; knead the dough on the lowest speed for about five minutes. Conservatively add more flour as needed if the dough is really soft and loose, but keep in mind that if you add too much, it can negatively affect the texture of the baked loaves.

 

Dust your work surface generously with all-purpose flour, and dump the dough out onto it. Flour your hands. Knead the dough by hand until it's smooth and elastic, perhaps five more minutes or so. Place the dough into a large bowl, lightly oiled with olive oil or sprayed with vegetable spray. Turn the dough over in the bowl so it's oiled all over. Cover the bowl with oiled/sprayed plastic wrap, and cover that with a thin dish towel. Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until it doubles. Expect this to take at least 90 minutes or so.

Dump the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. (Try to use as little flour on your work surface as you can get away with at this point.) Deflate the dough by pressing on it with your closed fists or the palms of your hands. Divide the dough equally into two parts using a bench knife, a bowl scraper, or a very sharp knife. Pick up one piece of dough and round it gently by tugging downward; you are trying to create surface tension. Do this to the other piece as well. Cover each ball of dough with the oiled plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 12 minutes. Pick up one of the balls and shape it into a loaf. Be sure to tightly seal any bottom seams by pinching them closed with your fingertips. Place the shaped dough into the pans. Cover the filled pans with the oiled plastic wrap and the thin dish towel. Turn on the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees.

 

 Let the dough rise at room temperature until it crowns above the rim of the pan, about 1 inch at its highest point. This will probably take an hour or more. When the dough has risen sufficiently, remove the plastic wrap. If you're not using sesame seeds, simply brush olive oil on the top of the loaves. If you would like to add sesame seeds, brush the top of the loaves lightly with water (or just wet your hands and very gently pat the loaves to wet them), and sprinkle the seeds on top. Gently press the seeds into the dough, being very careful not to deflate the loaves. You can lightly spritz olive oil over that, if you like.

Before inserting your pans into the oven, quickly open the oven door a little bit and, using a misting bottle, spritz some water into the middle of the oven (don't aim for the little oven light!). Bread likes a slightly steamy atmosphere when it first starts to bake and the humid air helps prevent the loaf from bursting haphazardly as it expands with that first big rush of heat.

Bake both loaves on the middle rack of the oven. Check them after about 20 minutes. If they seem to be browning too quickly, lightly cover them with foil. Continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden all over. If you're not sure they're done, you can check them by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the center; the internal temperature for a fully baked loaf is typically about 190 to 200 degrees.

Cool the baked loaves on cooling racks, out of their pans, for about an hour before you try slicing them.