Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Semolina Bread with Black Sesame Seeds

Before I even tried making this sourdough semolina bread found in Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, I first did some research about the differences between semolina flour and durum wheat flour.  What I've learned (in a nutshell) is that both semolina and durum flour are both ground from the endosperm of the durum wheat kernel but semolina is coarser and more yellow while durum flour is a by-product of the grinding of the semolina and has the consistency of regular flour with only a slight yellowish hue.  Many of the books that I've read strongly suggest only using fancy or extra fancy durum flour instead of semolina flour as the latter may not work for a particular bread recipe.  I've read from a few websites though that semolina flour could still yield excellent results in bread making if allowed a lengthy autolyse (about 30 minutes or longer).  Having a few pounds of the actual durum flour that I bought from a local Italian food supplier will delay my finding out if this is true or not though.  For anyone who wants to learn more about durum wheat and its gluten properties, etc this is a great article.     

L-R: Durum flour, Unbleached bread flour

Making this bread was just like making the Vermont sourdoughs except for the replacement of 60% of the bread flour with durum flour and the addition of toasted black sesame seeds.  The recipe called for white sesame seeds but I think the black ones provide a nice contrast to the yellowish crumb.  Another difference between this and the regular sourdough is the length of mixing.  Since durum flour has little tolerance for excess mixing (because of the higher gliadin over glutenin) you'll have to know by the way the dough looks, when it's time to stop the mixer.  According to Hamelman, if the dough starts to look shiny and watery, it's nearing the danger zone and the mixer has to be stopped immediately.  I used the bread machine as it seems more gentle on the dough and it only took about 8 minutes until I decided that the dough was developed enough.  Since there will be folding during bulk fermentation, I figured that I could make up for the under-mixing by doing extra folds instead.  I did two folds -- one every 40 minutes instead of one fold after 1 hour of BF indicated in the recipe.      

I retarded the loaf for about 6 hours in a cloth-lined basket inside the refrigerator.  The flour markings on the loaf were unintentional but now I know that I can also use the design of a plastic basket to give a unique design to the loaf!  I also still need to practice shaping a batard some more -- this one is shaped like a pear!  

Scoring the loaf is also a hit and miss for me.  With this one I think I made the cut too shallow (which I know now is more ideal for baguettes but not on batards).  If I made the cut a little deeper I think the opening would've been a little wider and prettier to look at.  

Yummy flecks of black sesame seeds
VEDICT:  This was not too different from the taste and texture of the Vermont Sourdough but the crumb looks absolutely lovely with it's golden hue.  It was also really moist and very flavorful because of the toasted sesame seeds which made me enjoy eating this bread on its own.  I also noticed that it was sourer than the VS that I made probably because of the changes of my maturing levain culture (developing more acetic acid).

*This bread has been YeastSpotted*


  1. The bread looks fantastic!! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. never heard about these kind of bread, surely will try once at home :)

    1. I know me too but it's definitely worth trying at least once! :)

  3. The bread is beautiful. I love the pattern from your basket on it :o) Good idea on using black sesame seeds. Lovely contrast indeed. And thanks for the tutorial on the difference between durum flour and semolina flour. I always wondered about that too.

    Btw, I forgot to mention that, now that you have the Bread Bible, you should try the Cinnamon Raisin Loaf. I made mine wihtout the cinnamon, just two kinds of raisins. You can find my post here: http://hanaaskitchen.blogspot.com/2011/11/cinnamon-raisin-loaf.html. Since you've already baked Nick Malgieri's raisin bread, I was wondering how you like Rose's version. When you have time, of course :o)

  4. Thanks Hanaa!

    I have to try out Rose's raisin loaf :-) I love baking and comparing similar recipes so this should be fun! I checked out your post on the bread and it looks great!