I only started to feel settled here in Sydney when we figured out where to get decent flour. It was an outright quest for us, slowed only by the oppressive heat of summer, but we found it in the end: high-protein, good quality bread flour, with sufficient gluten to make a proper, self-supporting loaf. With it, we discovered rye, hard whole wheat, spelt, semolina, all the ingredients we needed to make the bread we missed, and perhaps try a few new ones along the way.
This loaf here? It’s a new favorite. The raisins give it a subtle sweetness while the coriander turns this bread into something decidedly adult. And the semolina? It makes this amazing toast without messing with Tartine Bakery’s characteristic open crumb. In short, it’s the kind of sourdough loaf I’ve been trying to create since James and I became interested in baking so many years ago.
The only fault I can find with this bread is that it takes some planning to make. But now that it’s dark when I leave work, I don’t mind this so much. It gives me something to look forward to on the long drive home.
Sandwich bread is for toasting. There is no other reason to sell bread in perfectly uniform slices, other than to achieve the ideal crunch to butter ratio. It’s the perfect fast food: pop it in the toaster, slather with a pat of golden goodness, and go.
Toast is why you need to make this loaf. If you have ever been on a quest for the perfect toasting bread, this is it. It features semolina flour (the finely milled stuff,
which we buy in bulk at a local Indian market which we will soon be able to buy from Food Connect), which makes for a soft crumb, kind of like those old-fashioned wheat breads you find at the grocery store. The crust is smooth and golden-brown. When toasted, a thin outer layer of this bread gets all firm and crispy. The center? It’s nice, warm, soft, and slightly sweet. Not too much — you can still dunk this in soup — but enough to remind me of cornbread baking in the oven, summer on the horizon, and better times ahead.
It is, at the very least, a nice antidote to the endless snow.
Recipe after the jump.
I should know better by now. Really, I should. Bread cannot be rushed, no matter how many projects you have going on, or how many people you’re having over that evening. Usually, the more impatient you are, the slower the rise happens to be. This is when you should throw the dough in the fridge and give up for the night. But me? I’m impatient — I think I’ve revealed this particular character flaw before — and here’s the evidence of what exactly this little quirk gets me (aside from burnt grilled cheese, which is another story).
Not that this is a complete disaster. The bread tastes good, I can assure you of that much. But I know I could do better. The last batch? It was like our oven’s golden child. It was perfect, fluffy, gorgeous, tasty bread, which did exactly as it was told. This one’s a bit depressed, I’m afraid, and it’s all my fault.
But I think you can learn from my mistakes. Don’t make bread unless you have time for it. If the loaves haven’t finished their second rise, they’re not going to recover in the oven. Not really, anyway. And slash the loaves, for goodness sake! Then you won’t end up with craters the size of the Grand Canyon on the underside of your bread, as pictured above. Nor will you inhibit their rise in the oven. Yeah, that’s right — I was working against myself from multiple angles this week.
But my mistakes are mine alone — I really should have known better. The recipe itself is golden. It shows off semolina’s true potential, I think, and is relatively easy if your house is warm enough (or if, of course, you have a bit more patience than I). And strangely enough, throwing a few cubes of this stuff in soup makes some of the most delicious dumplings I’ve had in a while. So if I were you? I’d go find some semolina flour and start mixing.