Semolina Sesame Braid
Contributed by Sara.
Those who have been following the Modern Baker Challenge know that we are working our way through Nick Malgieri’s Modern Baker. Currently we are in the second chapter, yeast-risen breads (a little easier on the sugar than chapter one, quick breads). I’ve been making a lot of bread for a while now–in fact, it was via the BBA Challenge (namely, gaaarp and Andrea) that I learned of the Modern Baker Challenge.
Note: They finished up BBA a while ago, I’m still plugging along–heaven forbid I let the fact that I haven’t completed one challenge stop me from taking another on!
But for that reason (too many recipes, too little time), I convinced the other two clever sisters to split the challenge with me. I volunteered for Semolina Sesame Bread because I figured of the three of us, I’m the most likely to have extra semolina on hand. Plus I love the golden hue of semolina bread and the rounded out flavor it imparts.
As Malgieri describes in his introduction, he minimizes kneading by allowing dough to rest and autolyze. (Autolyze being the process by which resting dough will naturally form gluten strands, without you having to knead to help the process along) . It is amazing (after so much bread making) to leave a rough dough in the mixer and then come back to a dough made up of a long network of gluten strands.
On the other hand, I ended up needing to add a lot more flour (or should have added a lot less water) to get the desired texture. I think this is an adjustment that I’ll need to make throughout this chapter (as I’ve tried the pain de seigle with disastrous foccacia-esque results–there’s a reason there’s no blog post on that one yet). Unfortunately Malgieri does not provide as detailed a description of how the dough should feel as I’m used to, but logic dictates it can’t be too flaccid a dough if you are going to need to braid it eventually. I’m sure the flour you use affects things; I always use King Arthur. Or perhaps it was humid that day, I just don’t recall.
After all this breadmaking, my technique of forming loaves, or rolling out dough, or what not, still leaves much to be desired. I ended up having to pull out my three strands of dough for the final braiding. (You are supposed to roll under your hands, but this doesn’t work for me. I don’t know why). This is probably why my braid ended up so uneven, something that really shows up once the loaf is allowed to rise. At least I already know how to braid…
By the way, when did sesame seeds get so expensive?
Tasty. But–I don’t think I’d make this bread again. It’s not to say it wasn’t good, but rather that to my mind there wasn’t anything exceptional about it. I’ll use up my semolina flour on Pane Siciliano and hopefully someday making my own pasta!