I must confess. I had never eaten semolina bread up until now, and didn’t know it was so hearty. Had just one buttered slice at brunch today, with my alfalfa omelet, and it was quite enough to take me through to dinner.
But it makes a darn tasty loaf and quite a good looking one too. The only problem was that I didn’t have any fine semolina flour. In fact, I’ve yet to see it in the supermarkets or at any of the stores here, though semolina itself in its more grainy form is used in many dishes, both sweet and savoury.
So I improvised, and ground 1 1/4 cups semolina in the food processor, to as fine a consistency as I could. Adding in the 12gms of fresh yeast I had activated in about a 1/2 cup of warm water, along with another cup or so of the water, till the mixture resembled scrambled eggs. It’s important to allow the semolina-yeast mixture to sit for at least 15 – 20 minutes before adding the all purpose flour (2 cups), so that the semolina absorbs the water. Then add in the rest of the yeast mix, more warm water (if required) and a teaspoon of coarse salt, before folding in the chopped and pitted black olives (1/3rd cup), 4 – 5 tablespoons of fresh sweet marjoram and 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil… my little additions to the loaf.
Given that I had never even tasted semolina bread before embarking on this venture, and to compound matters, had neither the bread flour nor the fine semolina flour suggested by most recipes, I decided to follow the three-prove method suggested by Macheesmo…
3 hours for the first proving… After the dough has more than doubled, press it down or knock it back if you like… Go on! Get all that anger out! Bread making‘s a great anger management tool. All you therapists and psychologists out there take note. So yeah… knock it back, knead it lightly and return it to the re-oiled bowl for the second proving of 45 minutes to an hour.Once the dough has risen, press it down and roll it out with a light touch of the rolling pin, before folding the dough back in and shaping it into a loaf. You can also use a pat down motion with the palms of your hands, but the rolling pin is quite good.
The dough for this bread was really soft, so I sandwiched it between two towels while it sat its third prove (about 30 minutes or so, till it got nice and puffy). I’m glad I used the towels. I probably would have had Semolina Flat Bread if I hadn’t.
Finished by brushing the loaf with egg wash, sprinkling on some sesame seeds and slashing the top (diagonal cuts) with a very sharp knife, while the oven was preheating.
My Black Olive and Marjoram Semolina Bread… ready for that trip to YeastSpotting.
The bread is quite hearty, even on its own, so I haven’t been eating more than a slice at a time. The olives in the bread were quite lovely to bite into. But the marjoram is what made this loaf special for me… a delightful addition.
Quite similar to oregano, marjoram has such a distinct sweetness of its own, I’m thinking up a zillion ways in which to use it…
Perhaps in something sweet the next time.