The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mr. Hamelman’s Semolina (Durum) Bread with a Whole-Grain Soaker

breadsong's picture

Mr. Hamelman’s Semolina (Durum) Bread with a Whole-Grain Soaker


I tried making the Semolina version of Tartine Country Bread a few months ago.
I'm pretty sure I messed up on scaling (overhydrating) and then overproofing the loaves.
When I turned over my banettons, the dough flowed like lava...running over the edge of my peel and almost right over the edge the countertop.
Moving quickly! I grabbed a couple of pans, scooped up the runaway dough and dropped it into the pans, and then baked.  
Warm from the oven, the resulting bread was heavy and dense, but intensely aromatic and flavorful with the combination of toasted sesame and fennel - despite the baking disaster, it was some of the most delicious bread I've ever tasted.

Working up the courage to bake with durum again, this is Mr. Hamelman's Semolina (Durum) Bread with a Whole-Grain Soaker (coarse cornmeal, millet seeds and sesame seeds for the soaker - with the durum flour, so much pretty yellow color!).  
I substituted a combination of toasted sesame and fennel seeds (based on Tartine's Semolina formula) for the untoasted sesame seeds called for in Mr. Hamelman's whole-grain soaker.

Inspired by the beautiful, single-scored batards baked by hansjoakim, Mebake, prijicrw, Franko, GSnyde...(just to name a few!) I wanted to try this shape and method of scoring. My loaves didn't open up as nicely as theirs; I may have not scored deep enough, or may have overproofed again?; this dough was really moving along:


The crust is wonderfully crunchy, and the flavor of the bread just what I was hoping for.

Happy baking everyone,
from breadsong



Syd's picture

Looks lovely, Breadsong. :) I have never had the courage to bake with semolina.  The only thing I ever use it for is for dusting the peel when I make pizza.  My semolina doesn't look like flour at all.  It is more like finely dibbled corn and I have always wondered how it is going to soak up water and form into a dough.  Is that sesame seed on the outside?  I bet it is delicious.

All the best,


breadsong's picture

Hello Syd, and thank you.
I had to work up to making this bread today - yesterday I practised with durum flour, making the Semolina Sandwich Bread from TFL - this was a really good  formula and it made a beautifully-yellow, soft and tasty sandwich loaf.
There are sesame seeds on the crust - they toasted up wonderfully while baking - and add some really nice flavor.
from breadsong


dmsnyder's picture

I bet they're delicious.


breadsong's picture

Hello David,
This bread is very tasty, with good texture and crunch - I'm so glad I tried making it.
Thanks again, from breadsong

kim's picture


Your breads always look good to me. I love the sesame coated breads. I just bought blueberries for your recipe.


breadsong's picture

Hello Kimmy, thanks very much.
I'd love to see your blueberry bread when you make it.
I was blown away by your Maple Oatmeal bread!!! Those were beautiful batards; hopefully next time mine will turn out looking as nice as yours!
:^) from breadsong

teketeke's picture

Your baking is always apealing to me, Breadsong!

I really like the crumb!!  I had wanted to buy semolina or durum flour to make DaisyA's lemon bread, but I can't get the kind of flour anywhere near by my house.  Buying it online is the easiest way but shipping cost stops me to buy..

Your post encourages me to get semolina flour now.  So I have a couple recipes to try now :)

Thank you for sharing your beautiful loaves!

Best wishes,


breadsong's picture

Hello Akiko, I'm so glad you like these loaves, and hope you're able to get some durum flour so you can give your recipes a try.
(That reminds me, David posted a wonderful-looking Greek Bread awhile ago - it's been on my 'to bake' list for too long!).
:^) from breadsong

Mebake's picture

Just beautiful, Breadsong!! I score with a shaving blade, curved and inserted into the tip of a wooden coffee stirring stick / Ice cream stick. using a curved blade at a slight angle, and scoring fast with a hand while holding the tip of the dough so as not to drag; will open up your breads nicely. You did a nice job though.

How do you get those sesame seeds to stick on your loaf? I haven't tried sesame topping on my breads  as yet.



breadsong's picture

Hello Khalid - thanks for your helpful comment. I always appreciate your advice.
I used a lame with a curved blade to score these. Tried to go fast, but the dough did drag a bit at the end.

To apply the seeds, I brushed the loaves with water, then sprinkled and gently pressed untoasted sesame seeds on the top and sides. The loaves were then inverted and placed in unfloured, linen-lined bannetons for proofing.
Despite my efforts to be careful, the sesame seeds did scatter! Next time I'll try to do this on a sheet pan to contain the sesame seeds.

David also posted an alternate method to apply seeds.

Thanks again, from breadsong

varda's picture

That looks gorgeous and I love how densely you were able to spinkle the sesame seeds.   Those aren't just for decoration.   I can almost taste them.   I will have to try this.  Funny that our two posts were back to back.   Must be semolina and sesame in the air.  -Varda

breadsong's picture

Hello Varda - thanks for your comment.
I tried to make sure the loaf was well-brushed water so the seeds would stick all over.
The toasted seed crust added a wonderful dimension of flavor.
Thanks again! from breadsong

MadAboutB8's picture

That sounds yummy breadsong. Perfect sesame coating on the loaves. Look very nice.


breadsong's picture

Thank you so much, Sue!

SylviaH's picture

Breadsong, I just imagine the aroma in your kitchen!  They sound and look so delicious!  Such a lovely coating of the sesame seeds!


breadsong's picture

Hello Sylvia and thank you!
The baking and cooling bread did smell amazing.
I had a piece toasted at lunch today - and while toasting it smelled incredible too.
This bread is the gift that keeps on giving!
from breadsong

ananda's picture

Hi Breadsong,

The generosity of Sesame Seed topping plus the lovely single cut to the top of the loaf make this bread extra appealing.   Love those yellow flecks in the crumb too

Best wishes


breadsong's picture

Hello Andy, I appreciate your comments very much!
Thanks again, from breadsong

Franko's picture

Oh these are just gorgeous breadsong!

The flavour of the toasted sesame and fennel must be amazing alongside the wheaty sweet flavour of the 40% preferment. Much as I lean towards levain leavened breads, the sponge, poolish and biga preferments have so much to offer in flavour when many of us don't always have the time to babysit a naturally leavened bread. The crumb, crust, and certainly the scoring of your loaves are all superb. Great baking as always!


breadsong's picture

Hello Franko,
You say the nicest things & thank you very much for your compliments!
A 'flying sponge' bread was just the thing for me yesterday, and I was happy to have this bread ready by dinnertime.
For my tastebuds, the toasted sesame and fennel are 'not for changing' (to borrow Andy's phrase!).
:^) from breadsong