Braided Semolina Bread

Bread with soup. Bread for toast. Bread to sop up the last streaks of sauce or gravy or pan juices. I suppose you might be able to survive without bread, but you sure can’t live without it. A big, fat, puffy, chewy, golden loaf of homemade bread is just about the best thing that could possibly happen to your day.

This is not one-hour or no-knead, but is so worth your time. This is another one of those foods that make you want to gnaw off your own foot while it’s cooking; It smells so good that you just can’t help yourself. When you tear a hot corner from this loaf and watch a cold pat of salted butter melt down into the soft crumb you’ll go weak in the knees. Assuming you haven’t eaten past your knees, that is…

Fresh from the oven and ripped into hunks, this bread is exactly what you want to sop up soups, sauces, dressings, gravies and pan juices.  If you are a patient, forbearing, big-picture type person and you let it cool completely, this slices beautifully for sandwiches or toast.

This is The Minions’ favorite bread. They like that it yields two mega-sized loaves. They love that I top one with just sesame seeds and the other with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes, and garlic flakes. They live for the times I tell them they can tear off industrial sized pieces from the loaf that’s dressed like an everything bagel.  Butter is applied liberally. There are animal noises.  Crumbs fly.  They wait, slightly more patiently, for the sesame loaf to cool.  They slice quarter-inch thick pieces of bread and like them toasted on one side with a top-hat of blueberry jam.

On the nights that I make them wait, they mill around the kitchen aimlessly, standing silently behind me like little ghosts waiting… waiting… waiting… making their way to the table and half-heartedly helping themselves to the whatever-else-I’m-serving then pouncing when the bread basket gets to them.

This is a bread of beauty; golden brown, crispy crust topped with crunchy seeds (and perhaps spices) and a soft, yielding interior.  It is another gem of a recipe from the King Arthur Flour Company and their top notch baker’s test kitchen. I’ve been making this bread for somewhere near ten years- ever since this recipe appeared printed in the pages of their horribly tempting catalogue. It’s a hard recipe to mess up beyond edibility.  I’ve accidentally left the dough to rise overnight. I’ve hurried it along and forgotten the second rise.  I’ve brushed and topped it with exactly nothing at all.  I’ve substituted bread flour for all-purpose flour out of necessity.  And every. single. time. it’s wonderful.  It’s a very forgiving bread to make if you’re nervous about working with yeast* or dough, as I have accidentally proven time and again.

*Here’s a comforting bit of knowledge about yeast.  If you don’t have a warm place to let the dough rise, don’t worry!  It will still rise, it’ll just take longer.  Sometimes much longer.  Just be sure to keep it lightly covered to prevent the surface of the dough from drying.

Please try this.  Pretty please. With sesame seeds on top.

Braided Semolina Bread

Gently adapted from King Arthur Flour Baker’s Catalogue.

Scroll to the bottom for an easy-print version of this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (1 pound, 1 ounce, by weight) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (11 1/2 ounces, by weight) semolina flour
  • 3 teaspoons SAF or instant yeast
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar or non-diastatic malt powder
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (16 ounces, by weight or volume) lukewarm water
  • 1 egg white

Optional Toppings:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Onion flakes (dehydrated)
  • Garlic flakes (dehydrated)
  • Coarse salt

To Mix Dough By Hand:

Add all ingredients except the egg white and toppings to a large mixing bowl and stir together with a sturdy wooden spoon until you form a shaggy but cohesive dough.  Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, covered with a clean towel. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter top and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to a clean bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

To Mix Dough By Stand Mixer:

Add all ingredients except the egg white and toppings to the work bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Turn mixer onto the lowest setting and mix until a shiny, elastic dough forms.  Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

To Mix Dough By Bread Machine:

Add all ingredients except the egg white and toppings to the pan of your bread machine that has been fitted with the dough paddle(s). Set the bread machine on the dough setting and press start.  When the cycle is completed, proceed with shaping…

To Shape the Dough:

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and form into a neat mass. Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 3 pieces.  Cover three of the pieces with a towel while working with the other three.

Pat one piece into a rough oval.  Use the side of your hand to press an indentation along the length of the dough piece.

Fold the dough together along the length of the indentation.

Roll lightly with the hands to form a thick rope between 12 and 14 inches long. Repeat with the other two pieces so that you have 3 ropes of roughly equal length.  Line them up in parallel with the ends facing you.

To Braid the Dough:

Gently grasp the end of the rope on the far left. Lift it to about the center, leaving the far end on the counter, cross it over the rope nearest to it and lay it down. Now grasp the end of the piece on the far right and lift it to about the center, leaving its far end on the counter, cross it over the (now) center rope (which is the first one you moved) and lay it down. This is the manoeuver you will repeat – far left over center, far right over center, and so on- until you have ends too short to continue.  At that point, pinch the ends together and tuck under the braid.  Now go back to the center of the loaf and finish braiding the loaf toward the top. When you reach the ends, pinch together and tuck under.

The whole process looks like this:

Cover the loaf lightly and let rise in a warm place until puffy in appearance and about doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Whisk the egg white until it is frothy.  Paint generously onto the risen bread braids and sprinkle the braids with desired toppings.

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a golden brown color and firm on top.  Turn the oven off, prop the door open a little (two inches, if you can make your door behave) and let cool for at least an hour.  Or tear into the loaves with your teeth.  I won’t tell.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Braided Semolina Bread
Author: 
Recipe type: Bread, Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
This Italian style bread is a thing of beauty: golden brown, crispy crust topped with crunchy seeds (and perhaps spices) and a soft, yielding interior.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups (1 pound, 1 ounce, by weight) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (11½ ounces, by weight) semolina flour
  • 3 teaspoons SAF or instant yeast
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar or non-diastatic malt powder
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (16 ounces, by weight or volume) lukewarm water
  • 1 egg white
  • Optional Toppings:
  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Onion flakes (dehydrated)
  • Garlic flakes (dehydrated)
  • Coarse salt
Instructions
  1. To Mix Dough By Hand:
  2. Add all ingredients except the egg white and toppings to a large mixing bowl and stir together with a sturdy wooden spoon until you form a shaggy but cohesive dough. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, covered with a clean towel. Turn out onto a lightly floured counter top and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to a clean bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  3. To Mix Dough By Stand Mixer:
  4. Add all ingredients except the egg white and toppings to the work bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Turn mixer onto the lowest setting and mix until a shiny, elastic dough forms. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  5. To Mix Dough By Bread Machine:
  6. Add all ingredients except the egg white and toppings to the pan of your bread machine that has been fitted with the dough paddle(s). Set the bread machine on the dough setting and press start. When the cycle is completed, proceed with shaping...
  7. To Shape the Dough:
  8. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and form into a neat mass. Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 3 pieces. Cover three of the pieces with a towel while working with the other three.
  9. Pat one piece into a rough oval. Use the side of your hand to press an indentation along the length of the dough piece. Fold the dough together along the length of the indentation and roll lightly with the hands to form a thick rope between 12 and 14 inches long. Repeat with the other two pieces so that you have 3 ropes of roughly equal length. Line them up in parallel with the ends facing you.
  10. To Braid the Dough:
  11. Gently grasp the end of the rope on the far left. Lift it to about the center, leaving the far end on the counter, cross it over the rope nearest to it and lay it down. Now grasp the end of the piece on the far right and lift it to about the center, leaving its far end on the counter, cross it over the (now) center rope (which is the first one you moved) and lay it down. This is the manoeuver you will repeat - far left over center, far right over center, and so on- until you have ends too short to continue. At that point, pinch the ends together and tuck under the braid. Now go back to the center of the loaf and finish braiding the loaf toward the top. When you reach the ends, pinch together and tuck under. Cover the loaf lightly and let rise in a warm place until puffy in appearance and about doubled in size.
  12. Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk the egg white until it is frothy. Paint generously onto the risen bread braids and sprinkle the braids with desired toppings.
  13. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a golden brown color and firm on top. Turn the oven off, prop the door open a little (two inches, if you can make your door behave) and let cool for at least an hour. Or tear into the loaves with your teeth. I won't tell.

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    Best, easiest bread ever! Truly, I cannot believe how easy this was. The dough was a dream and the finished loaves tasted amazing. I will make this again, you can count on it.

    Thank you. ♥♥

  2. says

    I’ve been baking bread for many years now, and the best bread that I make and the most successful batch is usually when I prove the yeast before adding it in. Do you prove your yeast?

  3. P the great says

    I heard a rumor that somebody’s going to be [edited for family website content] due to this bread.
    It’s clearly a winner.

  4. maria says

    Okay, I am trying this beautiful bread today. My problem I am seeing is that the dough looks dry. That seems to be the trouble I have with the humidity here in SW Florida. Any suggestions, also especially with the water. I used my filtered refrigerator water should I use bottled spring, purified or distilled water?

    Hoping to have the crusty soft warm semolina seedy taste again that I had in Brooklyn, NY. Missing home for the food. Thank you.

  5. Rana says

    Delicious and beautiful bread. I made it tonight hoping for a great recipe in which to use semolina flour. This recipe is delicious. My bread and photo look like the ones posted (minus the seeds as my children don’t like that addition). Because of the 4 Tbsp sugar, the bread has a hint of sweet, but not too much. The crumb is on the finer side, but not quite as fine as challah, or other egg breads. I make all our family’s breads; this recipe will be well used in our home.

  6. Valerie says

    I’ve always wanted to make our own bread and am excited to try this recipe BUT we like using whole grains. Can we substitute for them and how?
    Thanks for any tips. :-)

    • says

      Hi Valerie! This particular recipe is geared toward being made specifically with unbleached, unbromated white flour and semolina flour. I have not experimented with subbing in whole grains. If you give it a shot, I’d recommend starting with a small proportion of whole grain flour to regular all-purpose or high-gluten flour. Keep working your way up, batch after batch, until you find that ‘threshold’ at which it maxes out on how much whole grain it can support.

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