Sicilian Sesame Semolina is one of the original breads that we’ve been baking at the Bakehouse since the fall of 1992, and it is still as wonderful as ever. I agree with Bakehouse managing partner Amy Emberling who said, “I really enjoy that bread—to eat and just to look at. The color of the crumb is so beautiful!”
The Origins of this loaf
I’ve long felt that the Sesame Semolina was one of our best, if still little known, loaves. In Sicily though, this bread is anything but unknown. Semolina bread topped with sesame seeds is to the biggest island in the Mediterranean what baguettes are to Paris—a staple of everyday eating that most locals can’t imagine being without. There’s a saying on the island that, Senza pane, non mangiare! “Without bread, one cannot eat.” And bread there, much more often than not, means loaves of this golden, dense, deliciousness that we’ve come to call Sicilian Sesame Semolina.
The use of semolina for bread in Sicily goes back to ancient times. Hard winter wheat was more resistant to spoilage and gave the best grain for pasta making. While wealthy Sicilians ate bread made from softer wheat flours, the vast majority of the population, being poor, ate this bread—made with coarser, less costly, “lower class” semolina. As Mary Taylor Simetti says in Pomp and Sustenance, it’s the bread “that has kept the majority of Sicilians alive across the centuries.” The Bakehouse team says of the Semolina:
Meet the bread you didn’t even know you needed in your life. Its claim to flavor fame is something to see, and taste of course. The entire loaf is rolled in unhulled sesame seeds before baking. The natural oil in all those seeds that cover the dough gets slowly roasted in the oven, contributing an intense flavor and aroma, not to mention a lovely little crunch. And that’s just the crust! Inside there’s a firm, rich, and almost cake-like crumb made with golden semolina flour yielding a beautiful yellow interior.
How to enjoy it
If you buy a loaf, take time to appreciate the aroma—just hold the whole loaf up to your nose and you’ll immediately notice the buttery smells of the sesame seeds. Sliced, toasted, and dressed with olive oil and sea salt, the Sicilian Semolina bread is a great way to start any day. Add some orange marmalade—an incredible combination. Add some of that fresh Bellwether ricotta and you’ll be rocking. It’s great for grilled cheese, dunked in soup or on the side with a salad. Turn it into French toast or fry up as croutons! The Semolina bread is superb for all of them!
If you head over to the Coffee Company you can order it up on the terrific toast menu! The Bulgarian Toast is made with lutenitsa (“Bulgarian ratatouille”) and goat cream cheese on Sicilian Semolina bread. It’s a big-time favorite of many of my friends! As is this lovely traditional loaf!
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
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- Read about how Sara Hudson, Zingerman’s Creative Services Director, likes to eat Sesame Semolina.
- Pick some up at the Bakeshop, Roadhouse, or Deli. Available Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
- Call Zingerman’s Mail Order (888-636 8162) to have one shipped to someone you love.