Semolina Bread

My dearest friend Alma and I went to the movies today to watch teenagers killing each other; enjoyed it tremendously and had some sodas and popcorn.  That soda (the ultra-enormous size “small” cherry coke) was the first chemical drink I’ve had in weeks.  The guilt level was so high – morally it almost felt like a hara-kiri sword going through my stomach.  The taste was so good –physically it almost felt like heaven… add Katniss Evergreen shooting everyone left and right – true paradise!

To prepare for this deliberately wrong (on so many levels) outing, I made a pretty healthy lunch.  This recipe is adopted from my bread bible, Tartine.  As a person, who grew up on semolina cereals, I was quite impressed – the loaf didn’t taste anything like those childhood breakfasts I’m trying to forget.  It was perfect for my avocado/sprout/goat cheese/sundried tomato sandwich!

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  • 200 g leaven
  • 750 g + 50 g water (room temperature)
  • 700 g semolina flour
  • 300 g all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 75 g fennel seeds
  • 75 g sesame seeds
  • 20 g salt
  • 200 g mixed seeds (poppy, fennel, and sesame) for coating

Yields: 2 loafs


Prepare leaven a night before by mixing 1 tbs of mature starter with 200 g oof water and 200 g of all-purpose flour.  Leave at room temperature loosely covered.

Test the leaven for readiness by dropping a spoonful in a glass of luke-warm water.  If the leaven is floating, it’s ready to be used.  If it drops, you need to give the leaven some more fermentation time.

Pour 750 g of water into a large mixing bowl.  Add the leaven, and mix it so it almost dissolves.

Add the flours and mix well till incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20-45 minutes.

In the meantime toast and process the fennel and sesame seeds in a spice grinder.

After the initial rest, add salt, remaining 50 g of water, and ground seeds to the dough.  Mix well.

Follow the instructions of the basic country dough recipe, starting with “Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3-4 hrs.”   Divide the dough into two when first placing it on a floured surface.  Instead of sesame seeds, use the multi-seed mixture used in this recipe.

When baking two loafs, after the first loaf is finished, reheat the Dutch oven for another 10 minutes at 500⁰ F /260⁰ C before placing the second loaf into it.


Five-Seed Bread

The brother-in-law nicknamed me Carb Queen, and it wasn’t from watching me cook… Yes! I love carbs! I speak carbs! And I surely don’t hesitate to indulge on most things carb…  in large… well, VERY large quantities.  

For the last two months our family have been getting high on this delicious bread.  The basic recipe comes from my favorite Tartine; the idea comes from this lovely bakery in Santa Rosa that brings their amazing 5-seed sourdough to San Francisco farmers markets every week.

Luckily for my family, we are still not at the point where we can consume the whole loaf in one sitting… or even in two… and sometimes in three…  It keeps very well.  In any case, I usually slice half of the loaf, place it in zip-top bag, and freeze for up to one month.  

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  • 1/2 cup flax seeds
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 1 tbs poppy seeds
  • 2 recipe Basic Country dough

Yields 2 loafs


Pour boiling water over the flax seeds and let soak for about 30 minutes.

After the 1st rest of the dough, add salt but don’t add water.  Pour the flax seed mixture over (it will be gooey, do not drain the water).  Add all other seeds.  Squeeze the seeds into the dough with your fingers to completely incorporate or use your mixer.

Follow the Basic Country recipe for proofing.

After the raising is done, separate the dough into balls.

Follow the basic recipe for shaping and baking.

If baking one loaf at a time, after the 1st loaf is done, reheat the oven to 500⁰ F (260⁰ F).  Warm up the Dutch oven in there for about 10 minutes before starting the second loaf.

P.S. Stacie, if you are reading this, I took the pictures above this afternoon, outside, no artificial light used…  That’s what you abandoned!  Come back!  It feels empty here without Iowans!  Or better talk my man into bringing us closer to MidWest!  Please ;-)

Headbump and Bread

My Holiday picture struggles are officially over.  Poor Lil’ Jem fell down today and got a huge bump on his forehead.  Horrifically not photogenic! So, I’ll have to stop chasing my kids with the camera and start working with the photos I already have … This gives me more time for recipe sharing.

Today’s recipe is Basic Country Bread.  It takes a long time to make a good loaf of bread.  I feel like it takes even longer to write about it, but I gotta tell you: this Russian mom cooks bread, and that’s what she is famous for.  If you ever want to impress anyone with a unique item on the table – this bread will do marvelously well.

My bread bible is Chad Roberson’s Tartine.  He describes the bread baking process like no one I ever read.  To my huge discredit, I live only 10 minutes away from his famous bakery and never set a foot in there.  They say he bakes bread only in the evenings, and sells it out completely within 2-3 hours.  My husband made an effort to impress me with a fresh Tartine loaf once, but got scared of the line.  Chad’s instructions didn’t quite work for me (largely because I have no experience with very moist dough), so I modified them a little. Nevertheless, I still highly recommend his book!

Don’t get mistaken – even though it’s made with a starter, it doesn’t taste anything like those famous San Francisco sourdough loafs.  The end result is sweet, rich, mature taste that you will love!

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Day 1

  • 1 tbs mature starter
  • 100 g water
  • 50 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 50 g whole wheat flour

Day 2

  • 100 g leaven
  • 350 g water
  • 500 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 50 g whole wheat flour
  • 25 g water
  • 10 g salt
  • Sesame seeds to sprinkle the loaf
  • Rice flour for dusting



Day 1 (I usually do this in the evening, so that the leaven prepares overnight)

Mix the first two ingredients so that the starter almost dissolves in the water. Add the flour and mix well. Place in a glass container (big enough for the mixture to expand twice its size), cover with plastic and a lid. Let the leaven ferment for 8-10 hrs. It will start bubbling. The leaven is ready when it passes a float test – if a spoon of leaven floats in a glass of lukewarm water.

Day 2

After leaven is ready, pour 350 g of water into a large mixing bowl. Add 100 g of leaven and mix it with the water. Don’t worry if it’s not completely dissolved. Add the flour and mix well (I use Kitchen Aid Mixer, but it’s possible to mix it by hand with a wooden spoon –the dough is really moist).

Once the flour is incorporated, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap, and let rest for about 25-30 min.

After the rest, add salt and 25 g of water, mix well. The dough will break at first, but will get smooth again.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3-4 hrs. Turn the dough carefully 3 times during the first two hours with a wet hand going from bottom to top.

After the rising is done, dump the dough in a lightly floured surface and, working with a dough scraper, fold it into a ball. Cover with plastic and a towel and let rest for another 30 min.

After 30 min the dough will flatten somewhat. Turn it around carefully and, using your hands fold it into a loaf like an envelope. Starting with the end closest to you, grab it with both hands, stretch it gently towards yourself, and fold to the top, pressing the end into the top portion of the dough. Stretch the right side carefully and fold it towards the left end, pressing the edge into the dough. Repeat with the right side. Fold the same way from top to bottom.

Turn the loaf around, helping yourself with the scraper. And carefully shape it with your hands into a round loaf by pushing the edges underneath the loaf and spinning it on the table.

Slightly moist your hands with water and pat the loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place a towel into a proofing basket or a deep bowl. Slightly sprinkle it with rice flour.

Using the scraper, lift the loaf and put it on the sprinkled towel, seeded side down, seam up.

Cover with the edges of the towel, put the basket into a bag and refrigerate for 8-20 hrs.

Day 3

Place a pizza stone and a Dutch oven with a lid into the oven and preheat to 500 F.

After the oven is hot, quickly remove the Dutch oven, and carefully dump the loaf into it, so that the seam falls on the bottom, and the seeded side is on the top. Score the top of the loaf with a bread knife. Immediately cover with the lid, and place in the oven.

Lower the oven temperature to 475 F and bake for 20 min.

After 20 min remove the lid, and lower oven temperature to 450 F.

Bake for 10 more min. After 10 min, quickly remove the loaf from the Dutch Oven and place it on the pizza stone. Let bake another 15 min.

By now the fresh bread aroma is taking over your house!

Remove the loaf from the oven and place it on the rack to cool


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