This semolina bread recipe makes a soft and nutty-flavored bread loaf with semolina flour that’s perfect for your favorite sandwich. Or make it as a free-standing, rustic semolina loaf and serve it aside your favorite soup and salad.
What is semolina flour?
Semolina flour is a high protein flour like bread flour that’s made from durum wheat instead of common wheat. Like white flour, semolina is made only from the wheat endosperm after the bran and germ have been removed. So it’s not a whole wheat, but it can have a coarse ground and often has a yellow color.
Pane Siciliano is a traditional Italian semolina bread made with the same ingredients as this bread recipe with semolina flour, only with a slightly different method. The classic Pane Siciliano is rolled into a log, shaped like an S, and topped with sesame seeds.
Tips and tricks
Making the semolina bread
The Pane Siciliano from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice takes three days from start to finish. This recipe shortens that time with a sponge that is common to my bread recipes, a technique learned from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible.
To make the sponge, stir together the bread flour, half teaspoon of yeast, honey, olive oil, and water in your mixing bowl (Panel #1, below). Sprinkle the remaining flour, semolina, and the second half teaspoon of yeast (Panel #2), cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit for an hour or three until the sponge is bubbling through (Panel #3).
Mix the dough by hand or with your mixer’s paddle attachment until it comes together and then switch to your dough hook. Add the salt and knead the dough for about 10 to 12 minutes by hand or 8 to 10 minutes by mixer until it is soft and pliable and passes the “windowpane” test. It will still feel a bit gritty.
Shape it into a boule (Panel #1 below), cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise at a warm room temperature until it has about doubled in size (Panel #2). This will take two to three hours.
Tip from the wise quacker: The best ambient temperature for making bread is in the high 70s. If your home is cool, you can create a warm place in two ways: 1) Turn on your oven (use the proofing function if it has one) and turn it off when it reaches 80 degrees. Or heat a microwave-safe cup of water in your microwave for a minute or two. Remove the water and quickly add your bread dough.
Punch the dough down and shape it into a loaf. Here’s a great video from the folks at King Arthur about how to shape a sandwich loaf.
Place the semolina loaf in a greased bread tin (Panel #1, below) and cover it back up with plastic wrap. Let it rise one last time until the top of the loaf is about one inch about the edge of the pan (Panel #2). This should again take about two to three hours.
Bake for about 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven until the internal temperature of the bread loaf is 190 degrees. It should give a hollow sound when you thump the bottom of the bread. Cool on a rack for at least one hour prior to slicing.
Once cool, unsliced semolina bread can be stored at room temperature in a plastic bag for a few days. Or slice the semolina bread loaf and store it in the freezer in a freezer bag for three months. Never store bread in the refrigerator or it will try out.
What to serve with this semolina bread
Made in a loaf pan, this semolina bread loaf works with almost any sandwich combo you can dream up. Or make it as a free-standing loaf (see variation, below) and serve it as a side to soup like:
Variations and substitutions
- Before the final rise, spritz the top of the loaf with water and sprinkle sesame seeds on the top.
- Make as a free-standing rustic loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat. Add a cast iron pan to the bottom of your oven as it pre-heats. When you bake your bread, toss a handful of ice cubes into the pan to generate steam. Cook until the bread is slightly warmer inside (about 200 degrees Fahrenheit).
Semolina flour can often be found with the other flours in your grocery store. Or you can buy it online from King Arthur, Bob’s Red Mill, or Caputo from many different sellers.
You could use 100% bread flour in this recipe, but it would not have the yellow color, nutty flavor, or soft texture of this semolina bread.
Your bread is still cooking and it needs time for the final moisture to evaporate or incorporate. If you cut bread immediately out of the oven, it may seem doughy inside.
Semolina Bread Recipe
- 1 Stand mixer optional
- 1 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan
- 1 cup (125 grams) bread flour
- 1 cup (250 milliliters) water lukewarm, plus more as necessary
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1¾ cups (315 grams) semolina flour
- ¾ cup (94 grams) bread flour plus more as necessary
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- Mix the 1 cup of bread flour, water, honey, olive oil, and yeast in a mixing bowl until well combined.1 cup (125 grams) bread flour, 1 cup (250 milliliters) water, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- Sprinkle the semolina flour, remaining ¾ cup of bread flour, and additional ½ teaspoon of yeast on top of the sponge.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at warm room temperature for one to three hours until the sponge is bubbling through the covering bread and semolina flours.1¾ cups (315 grams) semolina flour, ¾ cup (94 grams) bread flour, ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- Mix until the dough starts to come together, and then add the salt. If using a stand mixer, switch from the paddle to the dough hook at this time.1½ teaspoons salt
- Knead the dough for 10 to 12 minutes by hand or 8 to 10 minutes using a stand mixer. The dough will be elastic and should pass the windowpane test. It may still feel gritty.
- Cover again with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in the bowl until doubled in size. This will take two to three hours.
- Punch the dough down and shape into a sandwich loaf. Place into a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan greased with butter or sprayed with baking spray.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let the semolina bread rise one last time until the dough has risen one inch above the edge of the pan.
- While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the bread is 190°. The bottom of the bread should sound hollow when thumped.
- Let cool for at least one hour prior to slicing.
- Make this semolina bread as a rustic, free-standing loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet instead of a loaf pan. Place a cast-iron pan on the bottom of the oven when pre-heating, and then add a handful of ice to the pan when baking the bread. This steam will give you a thicker crust.
- Spritz the top of the loaf with water before the final rise and top with sesame seeds.
If you make this semolina bread recipe, I’d love it if you left a comment and rating!
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