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semonlina bread
Breads, Economical, Healthy, Vegetarian

Semolina Bread

by Nick

If you’ve ever been in an Italian bakery and seen rustic loafs of bread covered in sesame seeds, you might have thought to yourself, “Huh. Now there’s some bread covered in sesame seeds.”

Little did you know that that bread is most likely semolina bread. It’s made from a completely different kind of flour than normal bread. In fact, it’s made from the same flour that’s traditionally used to make pasta.

The resulting loaf has a really dense, chewy texture that makes it perfect for serving up with a good butter. Seriously, you need nothing else to have a good snack. A few slices of this bread and some real butter and you’re in for a treat.

Unfortunately, you don’t see too much semolina bread in bakeries these days, so you’ll just have to make it!

Yield
1 loaf
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Semolina Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup water, lukewarm (105-110 degrees)
  • 1/2 package active dry yeast (1 1/4 Teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 Cups semolina flour
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 Cups bread flour
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • Olive oil, for while the bread rises
  • Cornmeal, for baking
  • Sesame seeds (opt.)

Directions

1) Stir together yeast and water in a large mixing bowl.  Let sit for 5 minutes and stir again to ensure yeast is well dissolved.

2) Add semolina flour to bowl and salt.  Stir well to combine.

3) Add one cup of bread flour and mix to form a rough ball of dough.  Turn this out onto a lightly floured surface.

4) Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead for 10 minutes, sprinkling on more flour if the dough gets sticky.  After ten minutes, the dough should be smooth and soft.

5) Move the dough to a bowl with a good drizzle of olive oil.  Turn the dough to coat well with oil.  Cover with a towel and let rise until it triples in size, probably 3 hours.

6) Punch the dough down, knead for another minute, and return to bowl to rise until it doubles, probably another 45 minutes.

7) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down, and roll it into a rectangle about 18 inches high and 12 inches wide.  Fold left 1/3 in and then right 1/3 over the top to form a cylinder. Form it into a smooth loaf.

8) Sprinkle a baking sheet with a good layer of corn meal.  Add loaf to baking sheet seam side down.  Let rise for 30 minutes.

9) Brush loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

10) Preheat at 425, put dough in the oven, then turn temp down to 380.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until dough is a very golden brown and is hollow when thumped.

11) Let cool for 30 minutes at least before slicing.

Starting the dough

This is a really standard, basic dough to make. The only trick is that you substitute a good amount of bread flour for semolina flour which makes the dough a bit harder to work with.

ingredients

Basic stuff.

Start by adding your water and yeast to a large mixing bowl. Stir this together and let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast dissolves completely. You’re looking for kind of a yeast slurry.

yeast and water

Dissolve the yeast.

Then add your salt and semolina flour to the mix. Note that you could do this all in a stand mixer, but I decided to make this loaf by hand just for kicks.

When you stir in your semolina flour, it’ll look like scrambled eggs. You could play a very mean trick on someone at this point or just continue with the recipe.

semolina added

Scrambled eggs! Not!

Next, add a cup of bread flour to the dough and stir it until it forms a rough ball. If it’s really dry, add a bit more water and if it’s really sticky then sprinkle on some more flour.

Roll this out onto a lightly floured surface. It should be pretty firm at this point.

dough made

Rough dough…

The key to working with semolina is to let it relax and absorb some of the water before working with it. So, let the dough rest for about 5-10 minutes before trying to knead it. Then it should be a lot easier to work with.

Knead this dough for about 10 minutes until it’s very elastic and really smooth and soft. If the dough gets sticky at any point, sprinkle with more flour. You might need to add another 1/2 Cup or so throughout the kneading process.

After a few minutes though you should have a very smooth dough ball.

nice and smooth

After a workout…

Add this to a large bowl and coat it well with olive oil. Cover it with a towel and let it rise until it triples in size.

Depending on your temperature and environment this might take a while. It took my dough about 3 hours to get to the right size.

rising

Rise baby rise.

Take the dough out of the bowl, punch it down, knead it for another minute or so, then return it to the bowl and drizzle it with more olive oil. Let it rise a second time until it doubles in size. It’ll rise a lot faster the second time. It’ll probably take only 45 minutes to an hour to get there.

Making the loaf

You could shape this loaf into almost any shape you wanted at this point, or even bake it in a loaf pan. I went for a kind of rustic loaf shape.

I started by punching down my dough and then rolling it into a rough rectangle, about 18 inches high by 12 inches wide.

roll out

All rolled out.

Then fold over one side of the rectangle until it’s 2/3s of the way in.

Get it?

making loaf

First fold.

Then fold the right half over the left half and flip it over the seam is on the bottom. Kind of tuck the edges in so you have a nice smooth loaf.

I was pretty happy with this.

loaf

Not a bad loaf!

Getting ready to bake

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and sprinkle a baking sheet with a good amount of cornmeal. Add your loaf to the baking sheet and let it rise a third time for about 30 minutes. It shouldn’t double in size, but it should puff a bit.

Then whisk together your egg with a bit of water and brush the entire loaf with the egg wash mixture. If you’re using sesame seeds, sprinkle the whole loaf heavily with them.

As a final touch, use a sharp serrated knife to slice some narrow diagonal slits in the loaf.

ready to bake

Pretty thing!

Slide your loaf into the oven and turn the temperature down to 375. Bake the loaf for 40-45 minutes until it’s golden brown and is hollow when you thump it.

Let it cool for at least 30 minutes on a rack before trying to cut into it.

It turned out to be a very pretty loaf in my opinion!

cooling

Golden brown and lovely.

The texture on this loaf is like no other I’ve had. It’s pretty dense and chewy which I really liked. It makes out of this world toast and I imagine, although I haven’t tried it yet, french toast.

If you’re getting sick of your normal loaf, give this a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

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47 comments on “Semolina Bread

  1. Oh, wow! I always get a little worried that I'm going to do something wrong when I bake bread, but it looks so delicious I'm going to have to give it a whirl. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Do not be afraid of the yeast…its a nothing..the more you think of it …the more it boggles your mind just throw it into the mix…I do not even proof it anymore…as long as it has not been laying around on the counter for a long time…buy it in the jars and keep it in the frig…you will be fine…

      Tom

  2. Oh, I love semolina bread, especially as toast. Mmmm.

    If you combined this post with your last post, that would be my ideal breakfast.

  3. Okay this is shoulder-damaged pizza cruist girl. I made this Saturday…. such a good work out for the shoulder and it looked so pretty when it was finished.

    Alas, it simply didn't triple the first time or double the last time, so I'm not sure what goes wrong with the proofing, netting me an overall thinner bread than I wanted, but tasted great! I served with some hommeade chickpea spread (minus tahinni, so not really hummus) with a grilled lamb chop birthday feast. Superb!

    Would love to know maybe what's wrong with my proofing… why is it not rising all the way?!?

    1. Huh. Normally when I see problems with rising it's either because A) it's old or bad yeast. So you may want to try buying some new stuff or testing yours out by adding it to some water with a pinch of sugar and see if it foams.

      Or B) your environment/climate isn't great (too cold/dry/etc.) This is true for me during the winter especially and what I do to help it out is put the loaf in my microwave with the light on underneath it. It warms it slightly and helps out with the rising.

      Maybe try one of those?! Good luck!

      1. Thanks! I will try these! flavor was great so hopefully it was a yeast problem since I baked it on a humid day!

        1. so I've made this bread for the 2nd time with new yeast and results were a little better but still pretty flat….good flavor but cannot get the bread to look as high : (

          1. I too was having issues with the bread not rising well and I have discovered the cause. It was not the freshness of the yeast or environment. The cause was the container too tightly sealed! I use “Cambro Round Food Storage Containers” (which are great BTW) for my bread rising and had the lid on tight which prevented the bread from rising. Once I put the lid on loosely the bread did rise as expected. I am guessing the atmospheric pressure must have been to high in the container preventing the rise.

          2. The strange thing is of the many breads I make this is the only time that this has happened to me, so I am not surprised you have not heard of this. Science in action!

  4. So I just discovered this recipe last week and have since made it 3 times. (It helps that my husband could eat half a loaf in one sitting.) I have been wanting to get back into making my own bread for a long time, and this is exactly what the doctor ordered. I love this! The aroma, the flavor, the texture – fantastic. And I love cooking with semolina, so thank you for this. I wanted to share that I made one loaf a bit differently. I sprinkled cinnamon, sugar, and a dash of nutmeg before folding it over as you do when prepping the loaf. Instead of sesame seeds, this time, I sprinkled more of the cinnamon and sugar mix on top. The end result is hardly sweet, but has a nice punch of flavor that I think makes for a great breakfast or midday treat with a cup of tea. I can imagine doing this again and trying all kinds of "stuffings" from fresh jams, to nuts or dried fruit, and even herbs….if you try this idea out, let me know what you think!

  5. This is awesome bread. Its all over New York City. Nothing like going to the corner bakery and getting a fresh loaf, mmmmm

  6. OMG finally a walk u thru it website I feel like I know you! So I am trying this bread tomorrow I wil either praise or curse you…hahaha

  7. I love the photography. It all goes after the appearance. Great I will try it for this Shabbat and see if the family loves it!

    Chef Dov

  8. I just finished trying this recipe. Easy to make, the loaf looks amazing. I can’t wait to slice into the loaf to try it. I substituted some poppy seeds because I didn’t have any seasame seeds. I also opted for a round loaf rather than your typical loaf. Thank you for posting this recipe.

  9. I am a regular breadbaker but Never tried with semolina, i am looking forward to try this recipe!! Thanx!!

  10. I’ve recently become obsessed with semolina flour and have been searching for any excuse to use it. I made this bread today, but added golden raisins and chopped walnuts between the 2nd and 3rd rises and it came out perfectly! The texture is incredible – chewy but with a fantastic crunchy crust. I doubled the recipe because I anticipated fantastic results and knew I’d want more. Thank you!!

  11. Made semolina bread-wonderful!!! Would it be alright to double recipe and also could I use duram flour in place of semolina?

  12. Nick, you need to see my semolina bread just out of the wood fired oven I baked here down in Brazil using your recipe. Thanks to a site like yours I can replicate here my years of good eating in California.

  13. Hello,

    I have Waitrose wholesome semolina. Can I use this to make a semolina bread? Or I bought a wrong ingredient? I have the KAF bread flour already. May be I need to buy a semolina floor ?

  14. Can you make two loaves….one to bake once rising is finished and one to put in the refrig. to finish rising and bake tomorrow?

    1. Sure em! I’ve never tried it but it should work fine. I wouldn’t shape the roll until you are going to bake it though as it might over-rise. You could keep the dough in the fridge without a problem though.

  15. The bread is great! I thought I’d give it a whirl in my bread machine (West bend model, FWIW) and it came out great! I just got a ton of flour including 25lbs of Semolina from a friend that works in the wheat industry. They mentioned a delicious French bread made with Semolina, thus I found your recipe. It might be better kneaded by hand, but it turned out great and it couldn’t have been easier! Thanks!

  16. Easy, awesome bread – a huge hit under our roof for sure.
    Questions –
    I have a great sourdough starter I have been incorporating into a number of recipes. I was wondering…
    Could I add the starter to this recipe and if so, when should I add it?
    Would I have to modify the recipes ingredients in anyway if do-able?
    Or, just forget the entire idea?
    Thanks Nick

    1. Hmmm… tough to say Stella. I think you definitely could, but you would probably have to wing it a bit on the recipe. You would want to start by mixing the starter with water to make a slurry of sorts and then start adding flour and other stuff, but the flour amounts might change based on how wet your starter is. Since you’ve made it once, you probably have a good idea of what the dough consistency should be so you can just keep adding flour until you get there. Theoretically you should be able to do it though and the finished loaf would probably have great flavor! If you try it out, let me know how it goes. :)

    2. Oh, and you would probably want to leave out most, if not all, of the yeast obviously since your starter is essentially wild yeast.

  17. Thanks for the input Nick. I am definitely going to go for it and had planned to skip the yeast as you suggested trusting my great and very happy starter. Will follow up when I tackle your great recipe again, but for now we are in the triples which discourages me from tackling a lot of baking and time in the kitchen. Appreciate your response and suggestions. AND for this amazing delicious recipe.

    1. Hi Nick,
      Weather finally was conducive to baking again and I baked the bread using my sourdough starter. Minor adjustments you suggested above on first round, then on second I just used your original recipe we love so much and simply incorporated 3/4 cup of starter. Both came out very nice but all in all…you provided such a perfect, fail-safe, marvelous tasting semolina bread we decided to stick with your original and use our sourdough for other things.
      Was a fun baking experiment both rounds. But as the old saying goes, “If it haint broke, don’t try to fix it.”
      Sincerely appreciate your marvelous site, amazing recipes and your helpful inputs.
      s-

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