Monday, 10 June 2013

Semolina Bread & the Olive Oil Adventure

I was looking for a bread to make last Saturday, and happened upon a photo of a Semolina Sandwich Loaf posted by David, one of the bakers in the Artisan Bread Bakers FB group. I was hooked!  I just love breads made with Semolina. This sandwich bread, also known as Pane in Cassetta di Altamura, is made completely with Semolina flour.


Sliced Semolina Sandwich Loaf


I didn’t realize you could make a loaf using only semolina flour. I thought you needed to add at least some bread flour in order to give the dough its structure. I’m not sure where I’ve been, but I’m so glad I found this bread. It has become a new favorite.

My loaf is extra special because I used olive oil that was grown on a farm in Tuscany and delivered right to my kitchen, albeit in a roundabout way. The olive oil traveled by way of Italy, with a stay over in England for a few weeks, then it made its way to the U.S. and finally to me.

Semolina Sandwich Loaf


Let me explain about the traveling olive oil. One of the places I really want to visit is Tuscany. I wasn’t able to fit in a trip to Tuscany while I was in Europe last month so it’s still on my bucket list. However, my youngest son was in the UK for several months while he was attending school near London, and he was able to do a good bit of traveling.

On his trip to Tuscany, he toured a farm, Fattoria Poggio Allora, where they grow olives and make exceptional olive oil. This family farm also serves delicious meals from locally grown food so he and his friends were able to enjoy an authentic Tuscan meal. He really enjoyed the experience and knew that I would also enjoy it so he decided to bring that experience home in the form of olive oil. He bought me some olive oil from this farm in Tuscany and some from another place he visited in Rome.

I had no idea he had gotten me the olive oil. In fact, the entire time we were traveling in the UK, he never mentioned it. It was hidden in his dorm room. I only found out about it when he came back to the states and handed it to me. He found a very creative way of bringing the olive oil back in his luggage. He didn’t break any rules, he just had to think out of the box in order to fit it in small bottles. The presentation was humorous, but it was such a unique and thoughtful gift. 


Pane in Cassetta di Altamura

Semolina Sandwich Loaf

Adapted from: Semolina Sandwich Loaf on the Artisan Bread Bakers FB group

I used Tuscan olive oil in this loaf. It definitely lives up to its name of being one of the best olive oils. It imparts a delicious flavor that makes this bread melt in your mouth.


Water (70–78 degrees) 300 grams 1 1/2 cups
Instant yeast 5 grams 1 teaspoon
Semolina flour 500 – 580 grams 3 1/4 – 3 3/4 cups
Raw sugar 15 grams 1 tablespoon
Olive oil 50 grams 1/4 cup
Sea salt 10 grams 1 1/2 teaspoon



1. Mixing the Dough

Place the water in a large bowl, then add the yeast, sugar, flour, salt and oil.  Mix it well using a large wooden spoon or a Danish dough whisk until a rough dough forms.

I added more flour than the original recipe suggested because the dough was really wet. It was still pretty wet and shaggy so I gave it a longer bulk fermentation time to develop the dough without having to knead it.



2. Slow Rise/Fold Turn the Dough (or Knead/Bulk Fermentation)

Place the dough in a clean, greased bowl and let it bulk ferment for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, at about 70 – 75 degrees F.

To develop the gluten, during the first hour and a half, remove the plastic wrap every 30 minutes and fold and turn the dough in the bowl, for a total of 3 folds and turns. Recover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise until it is doubled in bulk.



Alternately, after mixing it into a rough dough, you can knead the dough for 12-15 minutes by hand or 8-9 minutes using a stand mixer and then let the dough bulk ferment for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until it is doubled in bulk.

I have an injured arm so kneading by hand for 15 minutes was not an option. I did the fold and turn method and let the dough ferment longer to develop the structure of the dough. 


3. Shaping the Loaf

Transfer the dough to a counter sprinkled with semolina flour. Shape/roll the dough into a loaf shape and place it in a greased 9” x 5” loaf pan.



4. Proofing the Loaf

Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it proof for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough crests over the rim of the pan.



5. Baking the Loaf

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake the loaf on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 35 – 45 minutes.  Test for doneness by placing a wooden skewer in the center of the loaf to see if it comes out clean.  Also, the bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when thumped. 


6.  Cooling and Slicing the Loaf

Place the loaf on a wire cooling rack and let it cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing it from the pan.  Let it cool completely on the wire rack before slicing and eating.  Enjoy!



Happy Baking!


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