This bread is wonderful, like soft Italian bread but with more substance. It makes three loaves; freeze what you don’t eat the day you bake it, or make yourself some delicious toast for breakfast the next day. The recipe comes from Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein.
- 3 cups warm water
- 2 heaping TBS yeast
- 4 1/2 cups semolina flour
- 4 1/2 TBS sugar
- 4 1/2 TBS olive oil
- 4 – 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 TBS kosher salt
In a large bowl combine sponge ingredients, and let sit, covered, at room temperature for an hour (it will double in volume).
Stir down the sponge, then add the sugar, oil, 3 cups of flour, and salt. Stir in more flour if the dough seems too sticky and soft. If using a standing mixer, switch out the beater for the dough hook, and run the mixer at first speed for 10 – 12 minutes; if kneading by hand, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for the same time period, or until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl,
cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Punch down dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into three portions, ideally more equal in size than mine turned out to be.
Working with one portion at a time, using your hands or a rolling pin, press or roll dough into a rectangle about 18” long; roll up the dough jelly roll-fashion, long side towards you, pressing dough down firmly as you roll.
Place loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Brush loaves with water. Use a sharp knife to form diagonal three slashes on each loaf, trying to cut inside and underneath the crust.
Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, or until dark golden brown and they sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.