This morning I was up bright and early for a practice row as a coxswain at BIAC with the women’s intermediates. It was drizzling and cold. Even though we’re out on the water on the west coast, it feels more like New England in the fall. Before I left at 5:30am, I setup the sponge for the semolina bread and left it to rise. It needed a couple hours…
Semolina bread is another Italian bread – I think from Sicily. Semolina is made from durum wheat – which is what most pasta is made from. I found semolina flour or powder or fine grain at the local Indian store nearby. A number of Indian appetizers, snacks, breakfast items and desserts utilize semolina grain as well.
When I returned, the yeast mixture or sponge had doubled in size. The salt is always added after the sponge since salt inhibits yeast growth. The bread rises a couple more times and then is left to blow up before it’s placed in the oven to be baked. And, yes, ‘blow up’ is not a technical term for dough, but I like to use it. This was one of the easiest and quickest breads that I’ve made so far. It was also fairly successful – I am enjoying the taste of the bread! The bread is light, medium soft and flavorful. It goes well with just about anything – eggs, curries, pasta or just with olive oil & vinegar or on it’s own. A picture of the cut pieces of bread are shown above.
My dessert for the weekend was a Lemon Loaf cake. Similar to a pound cake, but a lot easier and quicker to make. The recipe also taken from the Baking with Julia cookbook, utilizes fresh lemon zest. In fact, the more zest the better. It is key to pick the right type of lemons. If the lemon rind is wax coated or too soft, it will be difficult if not impossible to get the right amount of zest. I opted for organic lemons for this recipe for that reason. If it doesn’t smell like a lemon, it’s not going to taste like one either.
The ingredients were mixed fairly quickly and then poured into a 9″ x5″ loaf pan and baked for about 1 hour. The cake was pretty damn good fresh out of the oven – piping hot! and even better with a bit of fresh whipped cream! I recommend spiking the whipped cream with a 1/2 teaspoon of grappa or lightly flavored liqueur.
The lemon loaf, shown on the right, came out of the pan nicely. It could easily be an afternoon snack with tea or coffee. Possibly a breakfast bread with juice as well. Although you can smell the lemon, it has a very subtle sweet taste – just sweet enough but not so sweet that you’re rushing to follow it with a glass of water.