When it comes to baking, I would make a terrific Boy Scout. I just do not like to be caught unprepared. 50-pound bag of flour? Check. At least 10 pounds of high-extraction flour in the refrigerator at all times? Of course. Five-year supply of panettone molds? Just got those in.
In other words, I stock up.
This is not about buying in bulk to save money, although that’s always nice. This is more like, I’m notoriously bad at planning ahead, so I plan way ahead. If that makes any sense at all.
How uncharacteristic of me, then, to allow my supply of dried currants to run low. But how truly characteristic of me to discover this right when it is time to add them to the dough. Let’s just say that mise en place is a concept that is not fully en place in this kitchen.
All of this is by way of explaining how pine nuts found their way into this heretofore nutless bread. I needed a replacement for a few lacking currants, and it seemed like pine nuts would fit in. In fact, they fit in so well that I’m giving them a permanent berth on the recipe’s ingredient list.
This bread has no sugar, but the fennel and currants lend a sweetness that makes this delicious for breakfast or after dinner. If you don’t want pine nuts (but I really think you do), add more currants to make up their weight. Or just omit them outright. Or replace some or all of the currants with more nuts. It’s all good.
Semolina Bread with Fennel, Currants & Pine Nuts
Yield: 1100 g (4 short baguettes)
- Mix: 15 minutes
- First fermentation: 1.5 hours
- Divide/rest/shape: 30 minutes
- Proof: 1.25 hours
- Bake: 35 minutes
Desired dough temperature: 76F
- 220 g flour
- 220 g semolina
- 246 g water
- 3.5 g (1 1/8 t.) instant yeast
- 11 g (1 3/4t.) salt
- 193 g ripe 100%-hydration sourdough starter
- 22 g olive oil
- 9 g (5 t.) whole fennel seeds
- 110 g dried currants
- 70 g pine nuts
- Combine the flour, semolina, water, salt, yeast, starter, and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until just combined, about 4 – 5 minutes. Adjust the water to achieve a medium dough consistency, similar to a regular French bread dough.
- Mix on medium speed until the gluten has reached a medium level of development. This may take about 4 minutes, but will depend on your mixer.
- Add the fennel, currants and pine nuts and mix in low speed until just combined.
- Transfer the dough to a covered, lightly oiled container. Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 1.5 hours.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and divide it into 4 pieces of about 260 g each. Preshape* each piece into a short cylinder, sprinkle lightly with flour, cover with a towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes.
- Shape* the dough into short baguettes (about 12 inches long) with pointed ends. Place them seam-side-up in a floured couche.
- Slip the couche into a large plastic bag and proof at room temperature until the diameter of the baguettes has increased by approximately 50%, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 460F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
- Before baking, slash each loaf four times with overlapping cuts that are nearly parallel to the long axis of the loaf.
- Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the temperature down to 440F. Bake with steam for 8 minutes, then another 17 minutes or so without steam. The loaves should be a medium golden brown. Leave the oven door cracked open a bit during the last 5 minutes of the baking time to help the loaves dry out. Then turn the oven off and leave the loaves inside, with the door ajar, for another 5 – 10 minutes.
- Place the loaves on a wire rack to cool.
*A note about the shaping: I preshape into cylinders by flattening each piece of dough into a square, degassing gently. Then I fold the square into thirds like a letter, ending up with the seam on the bottom. After a bench rest, when it’s time to shape the baguette, I flip the cylinder over so that seam is up and degas gently again before starting to shape.
If you’re not familiar with how to shape a baguette, there are good written instructions at A Year in Bread. A slightly different technique is demonstrated by Danielle Forestier in this Julia Child video. (In the demo she only takes the dough to the thickness of a batard; a baguette would be further rolled out to a thinner diameter.)
I would buy those! Looks like we had something in common with currants and anise flavor, so good with goat or sheeps cheese!
psst, making some spelt, tell you how it comes out!
Your bread looks wonderful! Mmmhhh, with some good cheese it would taste awesome!
Those look fabulous, Susan! And what a good save you made to replace the missing currants with pinenuts. (I might have used Thompson raisins and then missed out on the wonders of pinenuts in the bread.)
A question about your semolina: how fine is it? It does pretty much look like flour, yes?
We buy our semolina in Indiatown for making fresh pasta – semolina is labelled “suji” – because it’s considerably cheaper than semolina flour in an Italian market. But the suji does come in different grinds: fine, medium, coarse.
Your bread is always amazing!
Jeremy, that flavor combination is great, isn’t it? Much better than the components on their own, I think. I will love to hear about the spelt, something I have never baked with at home although always meaning to.
Thanks, Rosa. You’re right, this is wonderful with cheese. Also toasted with just a little honey!
Elizabeth, the semolina has a rather coarse (for flour) texture, almost like a very fine cornmeal. Semolina is milled from durum wheat and it’s confusing because, as I understand it, in some parts of the country, “semolina” refers to the coarser flour (as here) and “durum flour” to the very fine powdery grind. But in other regions the meanings of the terms is reversed. Just to keep us on our toes. I have never thought of looking for it in an Indian grocery store — which we have plenty of around here. Thanks for the tip!
Anh, thank you!
David Aplin says
Awesome. Outstanding loaves. Madam, I doff my cap, your whole approach leaves me feeling inspired. Carry on!
Best regards, David Aplin
Wow, I mean wow. Your site is amazing – I am so glad I discovered it through the Daring Bakers! I aspire to one day have a 10lb bag of flour and be able to do wonderful things with it.
Bread looks amazing, reminds me of a raisin bread I had at Kaiser bakery in Paris. Can’t wait to try it!
You sure you didn’t get those at Kaiser’s in Paris? ;))
Those are incredible! Love the pine nut save. Great shaping vids.
Thank you Susan. It sounds like the suji we have is just the thing. Quel drag that time constraints mean I cannot make this bread until at least next week!
I find it really interesting that you use both commercial yeast and your wild yeast starter. What do you think would happen if you omitted the commercial yeast?
(Remind me to get some currants!! We’ve run out entirely… shame on us.)
I would happy to buy the semolina bread from you too bad I live too far away. As always look great and I love both combination (fennel + currants).
Your bread is the best I have seen, your pics are the best I have seen, this blog is the best I have seen.
I wish you could teach me.
David, thanks for stopping by. I’ve enjoyed seeing your posts on The Fresh Loaf and I didn’t realize you had a bakery. Wonderful breads, and what a beautiful oven!
Katerina, here’s to Daring Bakers for introducing us to both new challenges and new friends!
Helen & Tanna: I visited Maison Kayser when we were in Paris a few months ago, bought a fantastic baguette and ogled all the other wonderful breads. I can only dream that my bread will ever approach how good theirs is, but I am so flattered at the comparison!
Elizabeth, if you omit the yeast you would need to increase the fermentation time, and the taste would be more sour. The yeast is used because an openly sour flavor is not necessarily desirable in this bread, but the benefits of sourdough are welcome (longer shelf life, adds to dough strength, flavor complexity).
Kim, I love how the internet shrinks those physical distances.
Bart, as I have said before, I don’t think you need a teacher! Your breads are fabulous, and I only wish I understood Dutch.
Aha, that makes sense, Susan.
I made this bread (with yeast and wild yeast starter) last week. It’s FABULOUS!!! I’ll be posting about it soon. Thank you for yet another terrific recipe!
The bread looks amazing. Are you using the coarse semolina that is sold in most bulk bins, or a fiinely ground semolina flour? It reminds me of a fig and anise bread that a local bakery makes that I like a lot.
Joel, yes, it’s the coarse semolina (resembles fine cornmeal). I’ve made fig-anise bread but not with semolina — I’ll bet that’s a really fine bread!
Thanks for the inspiration. I tried making a batch of baguettes today and they turned out splendidly. They were a little too ‘curranty’ for my tastes so I’ll cut back next time.
I really appreciate that you list your ingredients by weight, as it helps me scale the recipes.
I’m debating whether to try the challah tomorrow or wait till next Friday. Your pics are so good I want to keep baking!
Mark, I’m glad they turned out well, thank you for letting me know! The currants are definitely pretty front and center here and reducing them would still make a very fine bread.
AHHHH Suzan , What a site i spent whole morning looking at the bread you make . i will print some recipes today to try making semolina bread .i wish if the recipes are in a file without the comments its so many i can not print them all .what do you think .thank you very much . i am very glad to find your great site ,it is in my favorite and i am looking forward to see more recipes from you . THANKS DEAR , YOUSRY.
Yousry, I will look into posting printer-friendly versions of recipes. Sorry you’re having trouble!
I have enjoyed your website since I found you on TheFreshBlog a few months ago. I actually made a few of your recipes and posted photos on flickr.com:
I’ve always baked my bread in a preheated cast-iron pot with lid as the first bread I learned to bake happened to be the NYTimes no-knead bread. The various bread I baked using this methode turned out not-so-badly but I could never achieve maximum results such as open ears and open crumb. However they are mightly tasty.
Anyway, I finally installed the lava rock tray and unglazed quarry tiles and am ready to make Hamelman’s ciabatta with toasted wheat germs and olive oil, tomorrow, 19 Dec 2007.
What kind of mixer are you using to mix your dough and how do you like it for homemade small batches (2 lbs of flour at a time?
Thanks for all the info and recipes and very enjoyable writings.
I might move back to the Bay Area this winter, so maybe we can meet up for a B.A/Silicon Bread Group Day.
sorry about mispelling the name of TheFreshLoaf, not TheFreshBlog
When do you mix in the 22g of olive oil or you use it to oil the dough container? Thanks.
Thanks for your comments. I’m having ISP issues at the moment so I can’t see any photos, but I’m looking forward to seeing yours as soon as things are back to normal.
Oops, thank you for pointing out that I didn’t say when to add the oil. I corrected that above, to say that it should be added to the initial mix of ingredients.
My mixers are an Esmach SP5 countertop spiral mixer and a KitchenAid Pro 600. I prefer the SP5 but if I have less than about 1.5 kg of dough it’s just too big, so for small batches I use the KitchenAid.
I baked this bread this afternoon, a few hours ago.
The lava rocks (together with the tiles) work beautifully as proven in today’s bake. That’s said, I havent cut any loaf yet to check out the crumb… and it’s too late to take pics now since natural light was long gone.
The ciabatta -3 normal sized loaves – are in the oven right now, the last few minutes of bake.
Like you said, a girl cannot live on boules alone… I feel liberated to move onto the next level of baking bread in different shapes. Yeah!
I got my bandwidth back, and I can see your photos. Wow, you have very beautiful breads! Hard to believe you only started baking a year ago. Today’s semolina-fennel-etc. looks wonderful. I hope you like the way it tastes. Good luck with the ciabatta.
Your breads are absolutely gorgeous Susan as many readers have already said all along and I heartily agree. You do have an exceptional thumb (?) for bread making. And btw, your pics are beautifully shot, the angle, the composition, etc. You’ve put a lot of time into creating this blog to share with us all. Thank you.
Now with the recent birth of BookTaste.com, one of the member of The Fresh Loaf who frequently begged you to write your own bread book, she (dont remember her name) can easily create a bread book of your recipes and perhaps photos, with your permission.
Thanks for your comment about my bread. You know you’re a great inspiration for I’ve tried about 6 recipes posted here: miche, norwich sd, fendu, english muffin, cranberry pecan lite ww, and fennel-pine nut semolina. All pics are posted with credit to you/your blog.
It’s hard to believe but I am also the mixer for all the doughs for my bread. It just hit me a few days ago that I should use a real mixer, hence I asked you for advice on it. And I am ready to purchase one. It should simplify my life greatly and I can be sure of sufficient gluten development of mixed dough.
The bread tastes oh so wonderful. The pine nuts and semolina & starter are keys here I think. I reduced about 1/4 of the dried fruits and I liked it. I had the bread (the same way you sliced it and I can see why) with a dab of Kerrigold butter on it and red tea for dinner last night. Yummy! I think I am gonna mix some more dough this evening because this bread is going to be a hit this weekend.
The ciabatta loaves looked great while being baked in the oven. I had made this recipe twice before (baked in close-lid pots & cast-iron grill) and loved the taste of toasted wheat germ and olive oil in it… well, with the price of a softer crust. I’ll post pics in the album.
Milly, I really appreciate your very kind words. The best part of doing this blog is connecting with others who have a passion for yeast (even if they may not know it yet!).
There are all kinds of opinions on mixers. I love the KitchenAid but it definitely cannot handle certain things, like very stiff doughs in any quantity. You will find lots of people weighing in on mixers on the Fresh Loaf and elsewhere.
I’m glad you liked the semolina bread!
David Aplin says
Hi Susan, Happy New Year, all the best in 2008. I have been admiring all of your blog but none so much as your pictures of the Semolina bread with fennel, currants and pine nuts, so tonight, with a new year’s invitation to a neighbor’s recently renovated house, I will present the 4 baguettes as part of the pot luck. I hope the batch will turn out as well as yours, if I don’t post pics on my blog that means it didn’t and that I am too ashamed to do anything other than maybe just eat them at home. I have made one slight change to the formula; I used chopped dried figs instead of currants because of a request from the better half…she dislikes currants, loves figs. I have no dislikes when it comes to food, I love it all. Anyway, the final dough is fermenting on top of the warmed oven, my shirt and trousers are in the dryer and my son’s Lego box is packed by the door. In a about 3 hours I hope to be cutting into the baguettes at the neighbor’s new dining room table and gazing about for a suitable spread or cheese to place on top. I hope you keep posting, it is extremely inspirational.
Bye for now.
Best regards, David Aplin
David, home-baked bread shared with friends is just the best of ways to spend New Year’s Eve. Figs… yes! Happy New Year to you and your family.
susan, hi, –
I’ve just baked this bread, but used a different filling, dried figs and pistachio nuts. Don’t need any cake if there’s a bread like that….thank you so much!
Olya, the fig and pistachio combinations sounds wonderful.
This looks so delicious! 🙂
All the ingredients in it look great– and good idea to make this with pine nuts!
You don’t by any chance know a good place to find dried currants or pine nuts, do you?
I’ve been looking around online for these so I can make Semolina Bread with Fennel, Currants & Pine Nuts also. 🙂
Really like your blog
Tina, I’m not sure about an online source. If you are near a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or store that sells foods in bulk, they will probably have both. Many supermarkets carry dried currants in a box (like raisins).
Susan: I will *definitely* be trying this.
@Tina- I normally get my Pine Nuts from NutsOnline– I’ve looked a fair bit and they seem to consistently have the best prices.
Lovely blog and post Susan– all looks really tasty!
We’re just back from a visit to New York where we had Amy’s semolina fennel raisin bread, which I adored. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by bread making but you’ve inspired me. I want to learn the art of this and make fresh loaves at home. Thank you!
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