The loaf has a beatiful blistered crust, not too crackly, and a crumb with large, irregular holes. The sweetness and nutty quality of the semolina, and the flavor of the sesame seed make this one of my favorite breads.

3 cups pate fermentee
1 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1 3/4 cups semolina flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, lukewarm
Natural, brown, and/or black sesame seeds for topping.
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

  • Remove the pate fermentee from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough. Cut it into about 10 small pieces with a serrated knife. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.
  • To make the dough, stir together the flours, salt, yeast, pate fermentee, oil, and honey. Add 1 1/4 cups water. Adjust the flour or water, according to need, so that the dough should be soft and pliable. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter. Knead the dough as long as it takes to create a soft and flexible, tacky but not sticky, and all pre-ferment is evenly distributed.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Ferment at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
  • Gently remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a lightly floured counter, take care to degas the dough as little as possible. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Shape as for baguettes, extending each piece to about 24 inches in length. Then, working from each end simultaneously, coil the dough toward the center, forming an S shape as seen on the photo above. Line a sheet pan(s) with baking parchment and sprinkle with semolina flour or cornmeal and transfer each loaf to the pan(s). Mist the loaves with water and sprinkle sesame seeds on the top of each loaf. Then mist the tops with spray oil and place the pan(s) in a food-grade plastic bag or loosely cover with plastic wrap.
  • Place the pan(s) in the refrigerator overnight.
  • The next day, remove the pan(s) from the refrigerator. Gently poke the dough. If it springs back quickly, leave the pan(s) out, still covered, for a couple of hours, or until it wakes up and rises more. The dough should stay dimpled when poked, and the loaves should be nearly twice as large as when first shaped.
  • Preheat the oven to 500°F and make sure to have an empty steam pan in place.
  • Generously dust the sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal and very gently transfer the pieces to the pan. Pour 1 cup hot water into the steam pan and close the door. After 30 seconds, open the door, spray the side walls of the oven with water, and close the door. Repeat twice more at 30-second intervals. After the final spray, turn the oven setting down to 450°F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pieces 180 degree, if necessary, for even baking and continue baking for 10 to 20 minutes longer if needed. The bread should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  • Transfer the bread to a cooling rack. Allow the bread to cool at least 45 minutes before slicing or serving.

Source: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

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