Semolina loaves are peasant breads that originated in Italy. If my recollection is correct, I think they were either created—or at least revered—on the island of Sardinia. For centuries these loaves were a staple in southern Europe, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that they found commercial success in America.
One of the selling points for semolina bread is oil is used instead of shortening as a source of fat. When Americans began realizing trans-fats are harmful, the semolina loaf seemed like a natural alternative.
If you aren’t familiar with semolina, it is flour that looks much like pulverized corn meal. It comes from durum wheat, which is the hardest of all wheat. As an ingredient, semolina’s primary claim to fame is that it is used in pasta production.
When I search for “authentic” semolina bread, here are two main characteristics I look for:
- Good semolina bread should contain equal parts whole-wheat to high-gluten flour. By doing this you get a tighter interior crumb. Also, your level of semolina should be a little over a third of your complete flour weight.
- Most bakers decorate the semolina loaves’ crumb wall with sesame seeds, but a true semolina loaf should also have sesame seeds inside. Typically that amount should be somewhere in the neighborhood of five percent of the total flour weight. This extra commitment to ingredients not only increases the flavor, but it also adds a dynamite texture that creates superior mouth feel.
Of all the southern European breads, semolina loaves are my favorite by far. If you haven’t had an opportunity to sample an authentic semolina loaf, I just added one more wish for your bucket list.
Until next time,