Tartine's aromatic Semolina Bread + Walnut and Sage Wholewheat
I have wanted to bake the Semolina sourdough from Tartine Bread for some time now. The heady mix of toasted fennel and sesame seeds held within the golden crumb sounded like a delicious combination beneath a crunchy encrusted exterior.
Finding the durum flour proved to be quite a challenge though. It took me more than a few visits to organic grocery stores until I discovered a small bag tucked away on a low shelf from a New South Wales company  specialising in pasta and durum based products.
It has been some time since I last baked with durum flour and I was a little nervous with the amount of water that the Tartine formula called for … 80% Hydration! … however the dough developed strongly over a three hour bulk ferment and shaped easily into batards. The seed coating looked beautiful as they quickly rose in cloth-lined baskets … it is hot and humid again in Brisbane.
The hot oven in the hot kitchen punched the wet dough upwards and I couldn’t help but let out a small sigh of relief as watched the oven spring unfold. This is aromatic bread. The crumb is full of vibrant fennel seeds with the sesame seeds playing a much smaller role in the flavour profile. The crumb is sturdy but not tough … the fennel flavour is sturdy also - bright and savoury. I would be inclined to reduce the amount of fennel seeds just to allow the sesame flavour to show through a little more.
By the end of a week in the fridge, my desem starter is keen to step out and stretch it’s legs after pushing its bed of flour upwards to a cratered top. Keeping the ideal cool temperatures is an impossible dream at the moment so my next best option is to feed sooner and watch its development closely.
The idea for the Walnut and Sage bread surfaced during a week of afternoon bus trips home. I knew I wanted to bake a whole-wheat desem bread studded with walnuts and I loved the idea of incorporating a sweet honey walnut paste similar to a concept used by Dan Lepard. The idea of sage came after … to balance the added sweetness brought by the honey.
Walnut and Sage 100% Wholewheat
Total dough weight
Desem build – 4 hrs 26°C
Starter (50g not included in final dough)
Freshly milled wheat
Freshly milled organic wheat flour
Walnuts lightly toasted
Chopped fresh sage leaves
- Mix desem starter and leave to ferment four hours
- Mill flours and allow them to cool before mixing with cold water (Hold back 50g of water) from fridge and autolyse four hours.
- Combine walnut paste ingredients and mix till smooth with motar and pestle.
- Lightly roast remaining Walnuts and allow to cool.
- Add desem starter to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins. Add Walnut paste, roasted walnuts and chopped sage leaves and squeeze through dough until combined.
- Bulk ferment two hours with two stretch-and-folds 30 mins apart.
- Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
- Proof for 1 hour at 28°C
- Bake in preheated dutch oven at 250°C for 10 mins then reduce temperature to 200°C and bake a further 10 mins. Remove from dutch oven and bake on stone for a further 20 mins.
After allowing them to cool I couldn’t wait any longer to try a slice. The knife sliced through the delicate soft crumb with ease. The walnut oil and walnut paste softened the crumb and coloured it the lightest purple. There were some lovely walnuts protruding from the crust but Nat’s quick fingers saw to them … I am sure they would have been distracting for the photos anyway :)
The sage flavour sits at the back of the palette complimenting the walnuts – you breathe it in - a perfect balance. So much so that the bread moves effortlessly between sweet and savoury settings. Perhaps a late breakfast with honey and ricotta or a slice toasted with blue cheese and glass of red to accompany one of our favourite pizzas on a Saturday afternoon watching the sun slowly set.
… our version of Jim Laheys Zucchini Pizza – with added red onion and pine nuts.