Due to my ignorance on the subject and the growing desire for this bread in particular, I searched and found this recipe for Sesame Semolina Bread from inmamaskitchen.com. The steps seemed easy enough, yet I still reached way back into my memory banks to the time of my youth when my mother and I would make bread together for my base knowledge on bread bakery.
Follow along with my photos of each step. PS - this bread takes about 5-6 hours total with rising times included.
Yield: Makes 2 loaves
2 cups warm water
2 packages active dry yeast (1-1/2 tablespoons)
3 cups semolina flour
3 tablespoons sugar or malt syrup
3 tablespoons shortening or olive oil
2 to 3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
Cornmeal, for dusting baking sheet
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional) end
Sponge: In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and allow to soften. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cover and let stand in a warm spot until doubled in volume (30 to 45 minutes).
Dough: Stir down the sponge, then add the sugar, shortening, 2 cups of the flour, and the salt. Mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead, adding more flour 14 cup at a time if the dough is sticky. Continue kneading vigorously until the dough feels smooth and elastic (10 to 12 minutes). The dough should push back when pressed down.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in volume (35 to 45 minutes). Punch down, cut in half, shape into rounds, and cover. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Shaping: Form into 2 Italian-shaped loaves about 18 inches long. Place the loaves on a baking sheet that has been dusted with cornmeal. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise until doubled in size (45 to 60 minutes). Brush the tops with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. When the bread has proofed, cut 3 diagonal slashes with a sharp knife or razor blade. Hold the knife at an angle to the bread and try to cut inside and underneath the crust. This will cause the bread to break open, or bloom, while baking and form a thick, crunchy crust.
Baking: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake with steam until the loves are browned and emit a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom with your fingertips (35 to 45 minutes). If baking on an oven stone or tiles, the bread can be removed from the baking pans for the last 10 minutes to firm up the crust.
A tip from George Greenstein Steam, in Baking "Place an empty roasting pan or other heavy pan in the floor of the oven 5 to 10 minutes before baking so it gets hot. Before slashing the breads prior to putting them in the oven, brush the tops with water or a cornstarch solution. I prefer the cornstarch method for breads that should have a shiny crust. When ready to bake, place the bread in the oven and carefully toss 6 to 8 ice cubes into the hot pan, or pour in 1 cup boiling water, and immediately close the oven door. ...do not open the door to peek for at least the first 10 minutes or the steam will escape. When you remove the bread from the oven, place it on a rack to cool, then brush the top with water or cornstarch solution once more. The results will astonish you."