Sunday, January 2, 2011

Semolina Bread with a Soaker and Fennel Seed

Hamelman's book contains four recipes for semolina or durham bread. Under breads made with yeasted pre-ferments, there are two recipes—Semolina Bread and Semolina Bread with a Whole-Grain Soaker; there is a recipe Semolina Bread under levain breads; and, under straight doughs, there is Semolina Bread with a Soaker and Fennel Seed. In many ways I wish these breads had been combined in the Hamelman Challenge. They would have provided and interesting contrast for these three methods. However, that wasn't the case. Only the last of these breads was included this time around. (Perhaps I'll go back and compare loaves when the other breads are introduced later in the challenge.)

The recipe for this December was a straight dough with a soaker. This makes it possible to complete the loaf in one day. However, Hamelman give the option of retarding the bulk fermentation overnight, dragging it out for another day. I tried the recipe both ways but saw no real advantage to the overnight fermentation. The only confusion about the recipe was how long to soak the grains in the initial soaker. Hamelman doesn't give a time. I went with 4 hours, the time Hamelman suggests in the earlier recipe for Semolina Bread with a Whole-Grain Soaker.Also, I found Hamelman's baking times were longer than needed.

Since I'm not a big fan of fennel seeds, I also made the bread with and without the seeds. Finally, I made some smaller (3/4 pound) boules in which I included additional seeds, King Arthur's Harvest Grain Blend. For the blend, I added the combined weight of millet and wheat flakes. I added these to the soaker using and equal weight of additional water but reduced the final water so that I didn't change the total hydration for the bread.

All the breads worked well. I actually like the fennel better than I thought I would, but I really can't see eating this bread with anything else. The bread with the added seed blend was particularly nice. This is a favorite, but it is a nice bread.

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