The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

More Adventures in Tartineland! Semolina and Cloche vs. Combo!

longhorn's picture

More Adventures in Tartineland! Semolina and Cloche vs. Combo!

Today's bake involved my interpretation of the Tartine Semolina loaf along with baking the boules simultaneously in a Cloche and in a Combo Cooker. The finished loaves follow! The black crumb is primarily a combination of poppy seeds and black sesame seeds. The Combo Cooker loaf is on the left and the Cloche loaf is on the right.

Tartine Semolina Loaves

Last fall I bought some durum flour and I have been intending to try it in bread. Since I have been working on the Tartine Country loaf I decided to try the Tartine Semolina recipe. I pretty much followed the recipe except that I use a higher dose of starter in my levain for my starter is rather mild. This recipe is very similar to the Country loaf in my opinion except that it uses 70% semolina/30% AP in the building the final dough AND it uses seeds (fennel, sesame, poppy) both in the dough and as a finish to the crust. I normally do a double batch of bread (around 5 pounds) and usually make four loaves. Time constraints today led me to divide the bulk ferment at 2 1/2 hours and retard half to finish tomorrow. As a result this posting will have a follow-up report tomorrow on the retarded dough.

My key comments involving the recipe would be that the recipe is not fully written. It has you roast fennel and sesame seeds in a skillet and grind them. Then add poppy seeds to the roasted seeds (and poppy seeds are not listed in the ingredients). This seed meal is added after the second S&F. The recipe needs to be read carefully for it is confusing.

I used very fine durum flour and it was lovely, and the resulting dough was strong and easy to work with. I will be using durum flour more often, I think.  I also found the roasted fennel and sesame seeds very appealing for the aroma they gave the loaves. (The poppy seeds were not roasted and didn't smell.) 

As usual, even though today was cold, my yeast was faster than allowed for in Chad's book. When I applied the poke test it indicated the dough was ready (even though I felt it was still a bit early). The results seem to suggest I should have given the bulk ferment another 20 minutes or so. The Cloche and Combo Cooker were heated for 1 hour at 475. The oven was turned down to 450 for baking. The loaf in the cloche was naked on the ceramic, the loaf in the Combo Cooker was on a layer of parchment. The bottoms of the loaves are shown below.

The Combo Cooker loaf on the left is a bit darker. I personally prefer the cloche loaf on the right, but as in the case of the oven spring and loaf baking the results are close enough that either is acceptable or can be with minor tweaking.

The crumb on these loaves was not as open as I am used to from the country loaf. I suspect that results from the introduction of the seed and seed flour but underproofing is also a suspect. It is worth noting that the Eric Kayser Pain aux Cereales has seeds and huge uneven holes so that tends to point the finger at timing or handling or even water absorption from the dough by the seeds. I would welcome comments by others regarding the influence of semolina on loaf volume. Flavor is delightful. I really like the subtle anise flavor from the fennel. 


wally's picture

Thanks for sharing the differences in the combo cooker and cloche: I've found that a little semolina flour in the bottom of my combo cooker when I load the bread keeps the bottom from darkening so much.

I suspect from the picture of your crumb that you could have proofed the loaves a bit longer (notice that the crumb is tighter at the top of the loaves).  Since you didn't add the seeds until the second S&F, I doubt that their absorption of water would be a cause of a slightly tight crumb (that would be more likely had you mixed them with the dough).

In any event, I think the crumb looks great and the bread looks really flavorful.


longhorn's picture

Thanks, Larry!

I knew when I saw the loaves they were a bit under but I am a rip fan so I  have a tendency to bake early rather than late - especially. I tend to agree that underproofing is probably the biggest contributor.

While I use semolina for releasing pizzas from the peel in my WFO, I am so used to a naked bottom for bread (on ceramic/stone) that I tend to resist using it. But I think you are right, I should! I will try it tomorrow!

The crumb was pretty nice. Not as airy as the real Tartine but pretty good and upon further cutting a tad better than I think the photo shows. 

I really liked the bread as a change of pace. My wife found the anise interesting but not a flavor she wanted to eat slice after slice. It is a really nice loaf to mix in with other loaves. Really different!



dmsnyder's picture

I sprinkled the bottom of my loaves with semolina before dumping them into my pre-heated combo cookers last time I used them. The bottom crusts were not over-browned. My experience so far is with Larrry's.


longhorn's picture

The bottom of the Combo loaf isn't bad you, I know what I want. I had hoped I could find the right combination to give the look I wanted appears I will have to join the Semolina Shakers Guild!

Have you tried this bread? It is pretty interesting. My wife really likes the mouth feel.



SylviaH's picture

looks really great..only half your photos are showing the other half is grey..once I put in some pictures and didn't let them finish loading and this happened on my MAC..I just took them off and reloaded them and the whole pic. came back..are you using a Mac PC?  May be it is the way mine is showing your photos!  

Anyway, after reading about how black sesame seeds cure everything...I'm trying to locate some at more reasonable price than my last tiny little jar cost me over 6 bucks...I can't find them around far..I may have to order some online.





longhorn's picture

Hi Sylvia!

I see the full images so I must assume it must have something to do with your Mac, but???

There shouldn't be anything magic about black sesame seeds - my sources state they are equivalent. I typically use black only to give some visual variety to the seed mix. You should be able to buy the regular sesame seeds at a health food store or in the bulk section of some grocery. I can get regular sesame seeds for only about $2 a pound. In this case the black seeds are in the coating because I ran out of regular on my last batch of Kayser's Pain aux Cereales and I used black as a substitute to use in the coating mix. I had some coating mix left over and used it on these loaves. 

The greatest thing about a heavy coating of seeds is that the loaves are super stick proof. They simply fall out of the banneton.

Good Luck!



longhorn's picture

Yesterday I divided the dough during bulk fermentation (at 2 1/2 hours) and moved it to the refrigerator to retard. Today I took that dough out, formed rough loaves with the cold dough, gave it a 30 minute rest, formed final boules, seeded them, and put them in bannetons. The loaves were allowed to final proof for 4 hours and 15 minutes. I had concern they would be ready early so I heated the oven at 475 for 2 1/2 hours so both the cloche and the combo cooker were fully hot. The results were interesting.

My first observation would be that with equally hot cloche and combo cooker the results are exceptionally similar! (The loaf in the cloche is on the left). As in the first case, the blackness of the crust is more from seeds than reality. The crust is actually about right if you like dark crusts. Some combination of the retard or my more extended proofing resulted in a prettier rip in the slashes as shown in the following two images of the two loaves (cloche loaf first)

The biggest difference is in the bottoms once again. This time I put semolina under the parchment and the bottom is lighter than before but still darker than the cloche loaf.

The final image shows the color of the coarse semolina after the bake. Ratherinterestingly the loaf came out darker than the semolina!

This seems to further support the interchangeability of the cloche and the combo cooker. Biggest difference seems to be that the combo cooker heats up faster (20 minutes per Tartine) whereas the cloche clearly needs a full hour or more to get fully heat soaked. The retard did not seem to hurt anything and may be beneficial as the dough seems more elastic. I wish I had given yesterday's dough another half hour to hour but...I can't take that back. So, for now, I see the cloche and the combo cooker as essentially equal. 

The Tartine Semolina loaf is interesting as the hint of anise is a very different effect. The ground seed meal does cause the color of the loaf to be much browner than conventional semolina breads (see the original post images at the top of the page for the crumb). Definitely a bread I will do again.