The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sesame semolina pecorino serrano levain baguettes

alfanso's picture

Sesame semolina pecorino serrano levain baguettes

In December 2018 I tried to duplicate the delicious breadsticks we had at one of the Arizmendi bakeries in S.F.  I think that I came close after a few tries, eventual swapping out the somewhat invisible-tasting sharp cheddar and jalapeño for pecorino cheese and serrano chilies.  Converted in this iteration from sponge to a 100% hydr. levain with 20% preferment AP flour, it is a 50/50 semolina/AP dough at 69% hydration.  I also removed the sugar and IDY which was used in the sponge. 

Friend Mike made a short notice visit and is staying here these past few days to take care of some East Coast business that had cropped up pronto.  So I baked these baguettes for him as well as some ciabatta.  

Using the similar but converted formula as I did for the breadsticks, the baguettes came out looking fine in every way.  But...I don't believe that this formula is really designed for anything other than a breadstick.  The crumb is quite dense, likely due to the very finely grated 25% pecorino cheese in the mix, and there is "too much" cheese flavor that was better left when the crust was much more the star than the crumb.  

Something was lost in the transition from breadstick to baguette.  Much better as toast than as fresh bread.  So noted, and in the future I'll stick to just using the formula for breadsticks.

And a little ciabatta "skin"


DesigningWoman's picture

from across the room. Those are gorgeous, as per usual. I can just hear them singing!

Looking forward to the crumb.

Keep on baking,


alfanso's picture

As the crumb is as dense as a black hole and no light could ever escape, or show through, I don't figure that a crumb shot would be of any value.  Imagine a denser version of a Wonder Bread or a Chorlywood bread and you get the idea.

However with 50% of the flour being durum/semola rimacinata and another 25% pecorino, the coloration of the crumb is definitely trending toward yellow, pockmarked by bits of green chilies.  

Thanks, alan.'s picture

If they taste half as fine as they look, you've got a happy household.
Good news is they probably taste TWICE as good as they look.
Awesome, Alan.

alfanso's picture

I'm more of a "bread flavor" doofus, much more enjoying the "purer" taste of the bread and lesser for add-ins.  Exceptions are made for a few various things that purposefully fall from the pantry into the mix like raisins, figs and nuts, but apparently not cheese.  The flavor of the breadstick seems to be enhanced by the addition of the pecorino and serrano.  I'm convinced that the flavor has a much lesser impact when the crust and sesame seeds taking center stage in breadstick form.  But admittedly, they are nice to look at.

Thanks, alan's picture

"Art" because your pix are consistently the most tempting on TFL.  Love to taste them some day.  And roger that, I always prefer (and aim for) the flavors of the natural transformations of starch and protein into Malliard products over add-ins and routinely achieve a pretty satisfying flavor profile.  My wife likes oat porridge so that's the weekly add-in compromise.  Nothing as assertive as pecorino and chilis!


alfanso's picture

as tasty as a lot of other TFL folks' products.  I use run of the mill ingredients, no proofing box, no bench top proofing, and pretty much the same M.O., more or less, for every bread.  Even though an anagram for my name is anal, I am a lot less so than others here who pay attention to many of the finer details.  You might have read that I never temp the dough, look for a windowpane, judge when the BF has risen to some exact amount, look for a peak rise in a three stage (yikes!) levain build, etc.  In truth, although I love the craft, I just can't get too "into" the minutiae that many others do.  In summary, I doubt that the flavor of the bread is the match of many others on TFL.  Not being coy or modest, but I'm content with where I am and what I produce.  As are the recipients of the "over-runs".  Not about to abandon retirement to try and make a go of it, so it's basically self-indulgence and tasty entertainment.

But thanks for the thought,


not.a.crumb.left's picture

the moment I've spotted  the photo...those beautiful sticks screamed who the baker was bound to be!! Inspiring bake and must be even more joy to eat!!!!  Kat

alfanso's picture

can often be identified as uniquely tied back to the baker who shaped & scored it.  Historically, as I understand it, when people long ago brought their own doughs to be baked in a central community oven, they were tied back to that family by how they were scored.  Each family/bread maker had their own identifying scoring or shaping, and therefore could collect their own breads after they were all baked.

It is satisfying that these can often be tied back to me as having a "unique" appearance, as with some other fellow bakers here on TFL - and as Tom just commented on in the past 24 hours.  A few years ago I first mentioned on TFL how important consistency was to me.

Thanks, alan

Abe's picture

Looking mighty fine to me. Haven't ever out cheese into my breads, yet!, however it does sound wonderful and I bet toasted is the way to go. 

Great looking scoring I can only dream of. 

alfanso's picture

so it isn't a far step from a stone-milled flour-like consistency and integrates completely into the dough, so there is no overt sign of the cheese at all. Except for the flavor, of course.  

The scoring is something, as kendalm will attest to, that didn't come overnight, that's for sure.  I also score directly out of retard so the dough is always more compliant than had it been proofed at room ambient temperature.  Freely admit to having that advantage on my side.

Thanks, alan