I was eyeing the semolina bread for a long time, wanting to make it. I was not courageous enough to try it like the making of honey wheat bread. I brought home almost all the known books on bread baking from the library to research this bread. After going through the books I realized that there are two types of Pane di Altamura/ semolina bread. One uses Biga or sourdough starter to make this bread and requires 3-4 days of preparation while the other one does not need sourdough. I am not confident to make sourdough starter at home, as it requires some more experience with bread baking. So I used the recipe which doesn’t need sourdough starter.
The semolina bread is from Alta Murgia region in Apulia, Italy. It is traditionally made in very large loaves. It is very crisp and fragrant bread with a long shelf life and is used by peasants and shepherds for a week or more in isolated farms in the hill of Alta Murgia. If you are interested in knowing the history of this bread earliest written document describing the Altamura bread is in A.D 37 by Horatio's "Satires” you can read more from here .
After going through the recipes in Local breads by Daniel Leader and Bread A baker’s Book of Techniques and recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman, I settled with the recipe from the Bread a baker’s Book. I had to modify the baking temperature slightly as I was afraid of using the oven at 460 F for 35 to 40 minutes. It was unthinkable standing near that hot oven and cooking dinner on the stove top. Furthermore the electricity bill was going to give me shock. So I reduced oven temperature to 400 F but otherwise followed the recipe with a slight tweaking of yeast. Since I am trying this bread for the first time and want to try the original taste, I didn’t play with any whole wheat flour substitution. May be next time I will try that.
To my surprise the bread was really tasty with golden colored crust and soft white inside. Just spread with some butter and jam or brush with olive oil and lightly toast, sure it is wonderful with any soup. Enjoy as you wish. Here is recipe.
Recipe adapted from Semolina bread by Jeffrey Hamelman
Semolina/Semolina flour: ¾ cup
Bread flour/All purpose flour: ¾ cup
Yeast: ¾ teaspoon ( I used active dry yeast)
Sugar: ¼ teaspoon
Semolina /semolina flour: 1 + half of 1/8 cup
Bread flour: 1 + 1/8 cup
Water: ½ cup
Salt: ½ tablespoon
Extra virgin olive oil: 1 ½ tablespoon
Sponge: all the above
Sesame seeds: ½ tablespoon
How I made
In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment mix semolina, bread flour, sugar, yeast and water on first speed until evenly incorporated. It will be fairly loose batter. Transfer the contents to another bowl and set aside for ripening of the sponge. If you are using an instant thermometer, sponge should read a temperature of 78 -80 F. It took about 1 hour 35 minutes, or when it is on the verge of collapse.
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment mix the ingredients for the dough including the sponge for 3 minutes. Then change to dough hook and knead the dough for about 6 minutes or leaves the sides of the bowl and form a ball. Transfer the contents to lightly floured area and knead for about 3-4 minutes or dough will smooth out and become slightly shiny. The dough should pass the window pane test and register 77 to 81 F. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Let ferment dough at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
Remove the dough and press it by hand to release the gases and press it into a rectangle about ¾ inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long. Form it into a loaf by folding the sides. Place the loaf into a lightly oiled 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Mist again, this time with spray oil, and loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap or a towel.
Proof the dough second time for 1 hour or until the dough nearly doubles in size. If you are using loaf pan, the dough should crest fully above the lip of the pan, doming about 1 inch above the pan at the center. By the end of the second proofing preheat the oven to 400 F. Keep an empty broiler pan in the lower rack of oven. Add boiling hot water into the broiler pan when you are ready to bake the bread. (This will create steam, necessary to make the thick crust)
Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the center become golden brown, and make a hollow sound when thumped in the bottom. If using instant thermometer, when it is done bread should register 185-190 F. Rotate the loaf pan at 180 degrees in between around 20 minutes of baking.
When the loaf is finished baking, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing and serving.
Preparation time: Sponge: 1 hour 35 minutes
Ferment: 2 hours
Proof: 1 hour
Baking: 35 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf
Will you make it again: Yes I will
I am sending this delicious bread to
Bread baking day 32 Italian breads hosted by ap269 of Family & Food & Other Things originally started by Zorra.
Yeast spotting event hosted by Susan