Semolina Sesame Braid {ModBak}

My most recent foray into the Modern Baker Challenge was the Semolina Sesame Braid featured on page 82 of The Modern Baker. I approached this recipe with a bit of trepidation. I’m not a huge fan of using semolina flour in bread. It’s great for pasta, which is what it is generally used for. But I find it too gritty for baking. And several of the bakers who have made this recipe (including Sara, the official blogger for this bread) have reported that the dough is too wet to work with, especially when it comes to braiding. But I have vowed to make every recipe in the book, so I forged ahead.

I began by mixing the ingredients — AP and semolina flours, salt, yeast, and water — in my Kitchen Aid mixer.

As with the other breads in this section of the book, this recipe utilizes minimal mixing and autolyse to develop the dough.

As you can see, this dough was really slack. In fact, based on the weight of the AP and semolina flours, I calculated the hydration of this dough at 95% — way too wet to shape, let alone braid. When I reread Sara’s post, I realized that she added extra flour, a lot of extra flour. Unfortunately, by the time I read this, I had already mixed the dough.

I set the dough aside to ferment and decided to develop it by doing a few stretch-and-folds at 20-minute intervals. During the first one, I worked a bit of additional flour into the dough. This helped a bit, as did the extra stretch-and-folds, but the dough was still very slack.

At this point, I didn’t want to try to work any more flour into the dough, but I did liberally flour both the work surface and the top of the dough. This enabled me to divide the dough into three pieces, stretch them out, and braid them.

I sprayed the top of the dough with water, sprinkled it with sesame seeds, and set it aside to proof for an hour.

I baked the loaf for about 35 minutes in a 400-degree oven, until it was golden brown and firm to the touch.

After the bread cooled, I sliced it and ate it with some homemade butter.

Final verdict: it was better than I expected, and the sesame seeds gave it a nice, nutty flavor. It’s still not one of my favorite breads; and I doubt I will make it again. But then, I have yet to find a semolina bread that’s worth repeating.

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10 Comments

  1. November 11, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    […] Wheat. But I have yet to find a bread recipe made with it that I like. And believe me, I’ve tried. And […]

  2. Kayte said,

    August 18, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I feel the same way you do about semolina in bread…just never too excited about that. Will probably try it as the guys like it well enough and then I can say I tried it, right? Thanks for the tips, those will be very helpful indeed. Your bread looks really wonderful, inside and out!

    • gaaarp said,

      August 18, 2010 at 5:33 pm

      Thanks, Kayte. It’s good to have to back!

      I tried a sourdough semolina recipe given to me by my friend, David, from The Fresh Loaf (www.thefreshloaf.com) and finally found one I can kind of say I like. I don’t know that I’ll make it again, but at least it was palatable.

  3. Renee said,

    August 12, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Better than expected is always a nice surprise!

  4. August 11, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    It’s a pretty loaf! Good to know that it requires some extra flour.

  5. ap269 said,

    August 11, 2010 at 1:35 am

    I really like semolina in bread, so I’ll make sure to add enough flour and to do some stretch and folds. Your result looks nice, though.

  6. Margaret said,

    August 10, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I am surprised it braided since it was so wet. You did a great job on this one. It is on my list for this chapter to make.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 11, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      Thanks. I found that liberal flouring enabled me to braid it, even as wet as it was.

  7. August 10, 2010 at 8:36 am

    You are most brave braiding a dough like that! Wow! You said you haven’t found a semolina bread worth repeating. How about these? These bbq buns by Dan Lepard are pretty good, easy to make and been going down well at bbqs all over England before the rain started 🙂 http://www.danlepard.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2950

    • gaaarp said,

      August 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm

      Joanna, those look interesting, and like they might even be good. But I’m swearing off semolina breads for now. Too much other stuff that I actually want to bake!


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