Sometimes it is nice to have a different kind bread, and that is where semolina bread is a great alternative.
Semolina is the hard part of the grain of durum wheat, which is high in protein, fiber and B vitamins.
It is very often used in making pasta, and couscous, the higher protein content helps build good structure.
Semolina is simply a flour like many other flours out there but it has its own characteristics.
Generally the word flour refers to a ground up grain of some kind.
There are fine grinds of semolina, and there are coarse grinds of the grain, and they are used for different things.
A very good brand of semolina is Molino Antimo Semolina Semola flour and is available in several places.
What is Semolina Bread?
When we talk about flour we normally are talking about soft wheat flour.
Soft wheat flour is the flour that is used for most of our baking needs, and what we consider normal flour.
Semolina refers to durum wheat which is a harder wheat that produces a harder flour.
Semolina bread is usually made of mostly semolina flour with a little bit of all purpose, or bread flour.
It tends to be a heavier, and more of a dense bread than what we are normally used to eating.
It is a substantial bread, with a very hearty and deep flavor with a nice crust.
Oftentimes semolina bread is covered in sesame seeds, giving it a distinctive look.
There are several desserts in the Middle East that use semolina flour and are usually dipped in simple syrup.
Some use finely ground semolina like ma’amoul cookies stuffed with either nuts or dates.
These cookies are especially eaten at the time of year when muslims celebrate their feasts.
Some desserts use the more coarse grind of semolina, such as basbousa, a very popular sweet.
Why Use Semolina?
Well for one thing, it is tasty bread, and very satisfying to eat, and slather with butter!
It leaves you with the feeling of really having gotten your teeth into something.
Because semolina bread is high in fiber and protein it has a low glycemic index (GI).
Having a low GI means this type of bread doesn’t raise blood sugar quickly.
This is a healthier outcome compared to white bread, which pushes blood sugar up very quickly.
The blood sugar in the body then drops quickly making you hungry again soon after you ate the bread.
A low GI food will raise your blood sugar slowly keeping you feeling full longer.
How to Make Semolina Bread
Making semolina bread is very similar to making most other bread recipes.
You can decide to make this bread dough using your hands, or a stand mixer with a dough hook.
I do not recommend baking using a bread machine, but the machine can do the mixing and kneading for you.
My favorite way to make this bread by hand.
I think it is much easier to keep the feel of the moisture levels.
Nothing beats our hands when it comes to cooking, and I always encourage people to handle their food.
You learn so much about your food through touch, so don’t be afraid to feel what you are cooking.
Whisk together the semolina flour, ¾ of a cup of the white all purpose flour, salt and instant yeast.
Make a well in the middle and add the molasses and warm water, and begin mixing the dough.
As the dough forms it will be somewhat sticky but should be workable.
If the dough is too wet, add a bit of the white flour so you can continue to work it.
Then begin kneading the dough, fold and turn the dough as you go, for about 15 minutes..
Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to at least double in size.
Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
Uncover the bowl and add ½ a cup of all purpose flour to the dough until it is incorporated.
Shape the loaf and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cover with a damp kitchen cloth, set aside and preheat the oven.
After about an hour and once the loaf has about doubled in size remove the cloth.
Cut three slits into the top and put the loaf in the preheated oven.
You will be baking the bread at two different temperatures starting at 425ºF (220ºC).
After 20 minutes turn the oven down to 375ºF (190ºC) for another 15 minutes.
The bread should have browned, and should sound hollow when knocked on the bottom.
Place on a cooling rack and allow the loaf to cool before cutting into it.
If you can!
How to Get a Golden Crust
Usually your bread will end up with a golden crust once it is done baking.
However, if it hasn’t browned the way you would like it to, and it is definitely done, all is not lost.
You can place your baked loaf under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
This will ensure you get it to brown better and to look the way you would like it to.
If you decide to cover in sesame seeds, here is the technique to use.
Brush your loaf before it goes in the oven with a water and molasses wash and sprinkle it with sesame seeds.
The wash will help give the loaf the golden color semolina bread is known for.
Tips for Making
- Allow the dough to be somewhat sticky when you work with it, you will be happier with the result.
- For a great recipe allow the dough enough time to rise and develop without rushing.
- Use a baking stone in your oven for a crisper crust, and tastier loaf.
Semolina Bread Recipe
- 1¾ cups Semolina Flour
- ¾ + ½ cup All Purpose Flour
- 1½ tsp Yeast
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Pomegranate Molasses
- 1⅓ cup Warm Water
- Whisk together the semolina flour, ¾ cups all purpose flour, yeast and salt.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the molasses and water. Mix with your hands until a dough forms. (It should be a bit sticky, add a bit of all purpose flour if necessary to be able to work the dough).
- Place dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for about 30 minutes to an hour until the dough doubles in size.
- Add the remaining ½ cup of all purpose flour and knead into the dough. Knead for about ten minutes and then shape the loaf and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Cover with a damp cloth and allow the loaf to proof for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).
- Uncover the loaf and cut three slits into the top of the loaf. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Lower oven temperature to 375ºF (190ºC) and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.
- The loaf will be done when golden brown and when it sounds hollow when knocked on the bottom.
- Remove and cool on a cooling rack.