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01/28/2020

~A Basic Italian Semolina Bread in the Bread Machine~

IMG_8640The option to get my sandwich served to me on semolina bread. I wish it would happen oftener. Because it happens so rarely, when it does happen, it's cause for rejoicing. When I happen to come across an entire loaf in a bakery, it's cause for much rejoicing.  Soft and chewy with an open crumb, same-day-made golden-yellow semolina bread is great dipped in olive oil or marinara sauce, or, used as a foil for a soft, buttery cheese.  The next day, it's great lightly-toasted and slathered with a copious amount of sweet cream butter, or, used as a base for various crostini.

IMG_8671Golden semolina bread = soft & chewy w/an open crumb. 

IMG_8616Semolina bread is bread made entirely or partially from semolina flour -- the more semolina flour used, the more golden the color. Semolina flour is most famously used to make pasta.  Semolina itself is derived from durum wheat, which is the hardest wheat available, and, whether used to make pasta or bread, it lends a rich flavor and a distinctively chewy texture.  In Italy, semolina bread (known as pane di semola) is, like many traditional Italian breads, often made with a starter known as a biga, which many bakers believe is worth the extra effort.  I won't argue that point.  I've tasted semolina bread made both ways, and using the biga does result in a more complex flavor. That said, sans a starter, a high-quality semolina loaf can be achieved in the home kitchen, and, in my kitchen, I decided to transition my recipe to the bread machine so we could enjoy the luxury of this bread regularly. 

6a0120a8551282970b0133f466ce08970bA bit about bread-machine bread in general.  Bread baked in a bread machine is rectangular in shape.  No matter what size loaf you elect to bake (most machines give you 3 options: 1-pound loaf; 1 1/2-pound loaf; 2- pound loaf), they will all get baked in the shape of the standard-size pan that comes with that machine.  What is wrong with that?  Nothing.  Even though bread machine bread rises nicely and browns beautifully (all thanks to the many options the bread machine makes available to you), it "plainly" is not going to win any "bread beauty contests".  This is a give-and-take you will realize is well worth the sacrifice the moment you slice and taste the bread.  This is the rectangular-shaped bread pan that came with my machine.  The paddle (which will do the machine-kneading) has been inserted into it. When making bread in a bread machine, the protocol for adding ingredients to the bread pan is: wet ingredients first, dry ingredients second (on top of wet ingredients), granulated yeast last.

IMG_8665Put all ingredients in pan & let the machine do the work.

IMG_8612For a 1-pound loaf:

3/4  cup warm water

3  tablespoons olive oil

2  tablespoons barley malt syrup

1  teaspoon sea salt

1  cup

1  cup + 2 tablespoons semolina flour

1  teaspoon granulated dry yeast, NOT rapid-rise (1/2 packet)

For a 2-pound loaf:

1 1/2  cups warm water

6  tablespoons olive oil

4  tablespoons barley malt syrup

2  teaspoons sea salt

2  cups bread flour

2 1/4  cups semolina flour

2  teaspoons granulated dry yeast, NOT rapid-rise (1 packet)

IMG_8621~ Step 1.  To prepare the dough, place all ingredients in pan of bread machine in the order listed, except for the yeast.  Using your index finger, make a small indentation ("a well") on top of the dry ingredients, but not so deep that it reaches the wet layer.  Place the yeast into the indentation.  It is important to keep the dry yeast away from the wet ingredients until it is time for the machine to knead them together, because the liquid ingredients will prematurely activate the yeast.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c95310e2970b~ Step 2. Insert bread pan into bread machine and press down until it is "clicked" securely into place.  Close the lid and plug the machine in.  Press "select" choose "white bread".  Press the "loaf size" button to select "2-pound loaf".  Press the "crust control" button and select "light crust".  Press "start".  Depending on the make and model of your bread machine, you will have a 2-pound, fully-baked loaf of herbed-pizza-dough bread ready and waiting for you in 3 hours.

IMG_8627~ Step 3.  Walk away.  Do not lift the lid to check in on the kneading, rising or baking process.  Don't do it. When  machine signals bread is done, carefully open the lid.  Using a pot holder, remove the bread pan from machine by using the handle to lift it up and out.  Turn bread pan at a 30-45º angle and gently shake/slide the loaf out onto its side.  Turn loaf upright and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_8636Note:  If the kneading paddle (which is steaming hot) happens to remain in the loaf after you've removed the loaf from the pan, unless you have a pair of culinary tweezers, completely cool the loaf before removing it.

~ Step 4.  This is a photo of a 2-pound loaf taken the moment it has been removed from the bread machine.  At first glimpse it's a bit overwhelming, but I assure you, you're going to fall in love with this bread.  Once cooled, which takes about 3 hours:  Starting at the top, slice the loaf in half, to form 2 smaller, 1-pound loaves.  Two for one:  eat one, freeze one for later.

Breakfast lunch or dinner, bread's better slathered w/butter: 

IMG_8677A Basic Italian Semolina Bread in the Bread Machine:  Recipe yields 1, 2-pound loaf.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container; bread machine; wire cooling rack; serrated bread knife

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39d9649200bCook's Note:  The #1 reason many folks stop using their bread machine is the recipes that come with machine are: not very good. Not so with my bread machine specialties: ~ Bread Machine Basics & Melanie's Brioche Recipe ~, ~ Try My Rye:  It Homemade in the Bread Machine ~, ~ Bread Machine Herbed-Pizza-Dough Sandwich Loaf ~, Bread Machine Basics and Cinnamon-Raisin Bread ~, ~ Eggnog Breakfast Brioche in the Bread Machine ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

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