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Friday, May 22, 2009

Tunisian Semolina Bread - Khubz Mbassis





I do have to clear the air before we get too far into today's recipe. There are reputations at stake here. No matter what you may have heard, or who may have told you, magic paste and seeds of paradise are not controlled substances. Magic paste is a blend of seasonings used in some Thai cooking; it's made with garlic, white pepper and coriander and we'll be using it soon, just not today. Seeds of paradise, a combination of anise, fennel, brown sesame and black caraway seeds, figure prominently in the semolina bread I made today. This, and many other Mediterranean breads, is made with a dough starter or sponge. That means that while this bread is easy to make, it's not quick and you have to build untended "wait" time into your plans. The sponge or poolish lends enormous flavor to the finished bread, so it's worth the time and effort required to make it. It has to sit for at least eight hours and a fermentation of forty-eight hours would be even better. The finished bread is a thing of beauty - a culinary object d' art. It's a bit like focaccia bread, but it has a crackly, brittle crust that's more typical of a French or Italian peasant loaf. If anyone could give us a phonetic pronunciation for the name of this bread it would be appreciated. My mangled attempt would have everyone in stitches.




I'm sending this to Gollum at Designs By Gollum who is hostess for "Foodie Friday."



I'm also sending it to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeast Spotting event.

Tunisian Semolina Bread - Khubz Mbassis

Ingredients:
For the starer or poolish:
1 cup warm water
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
For the seeds of paradise:
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon brown sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black caraway seeds
For the bread:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons seeds of paradise
3 cups semolina flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

Directions:
1) To make the starter, place warm water, yeast and flour in bowl of an electric mixer. Using a paddle attachment, beat at medium speed until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lidded 2 quart container and let sit at room temperature overnight. Starter may be used eight hours later but flavor will improve if it can be refrigerated for a day or two longer.
2) To make seeds of paradise, combine anise, fennel, sesame and caraway seeds in a small lidded jar. Shake well to combine. Set aside.
3) To make bread, sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer. When dissolved add 1/2 cup bread starter. Mix, using paddle attachment until starter is incorporated and the mixture is foamy. Switch mixer to dough hook. Add olive oil, 2 tablespoons seeds of paradise, semolina, all-purpose flour and salt. Knead on medium speed until dough pulls from side of bowl, about 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning ball to coat all surfaces. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let double in size. Punch down and let double in bulk a second time, about 1 hour longer. Punch down and divide into 2 equal portions. Working on a lightly floured board, roll each potion into a 12-inch circle. Transfer each to a baking sheet. Working with 1 circle at a time, brush outer edge with water. At 1-inch intervals, pull up edges of dough and press down firmly, about 1-inch from edge to create a flute. Alternatively, crimp edges as though making pie dough. Repeat with second round. Sprinkle tops with reserved seeds of paradise. Cover lightly and let rise until double in height, about 45 minutes.
4) While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Transfer baking sheets to oven. During first 15 minutes of baking, mist loaves with water 3 or 4 times to create a crisp crust. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. and bake for 30 minutes longer, or until loaves are a rich gold in color. Remove and cool on rack. Yield: 2 loaves.

Recipe adapted from Joyce Goldstein's Mediterranean the Beautiful Cookbook

57 comments:

Katy said...

Beautiful! Truly an object d' art!

Never heard that about magic paste or seeds of paradise. But this is the first time I've ever heard those phrases.

Selba said...

The bread has anise seeds? Yummm... it must be really nice :)

Ning said...

Beautiful bread! and seeds of paradise.. am learning so much from your posts! Thank you!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

So many breads, not enough time.
I've look at recipes for this. I know I'll bake it one day.
Yours is a beautiful loaf!!

Martha said...

I admire your bread baking -- I just don't the patience. Which is a shame -- you can't find good bread in my town on the prairie.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Gorgeous bread. It's one I'm not familiar with. Always fun to learn new things. Thanks.
Sam

Debbie said...

Oh the bread looks delicious and then I noticed your tart from yesterday. I have a serious weakness for tarts...wow. Just beautiful and it looks so delicious!!!

susan said...

Can't begin to pronounce it but it looks great! Controlled substance rumor--really..I had to laugh! I would love to try this when things slow down after "our" wedding!

Koruklu said...

What a crusty loaf of bread! It must be very delicious!

Thoughtfully blended hearts said...

This looks lovely...and your blog probably has the answer to my bread problems...I'll be back to search your posts...thanks
Becky

Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer said...

Hmm.. I wonder if I could make this! Happy Foodie Friday! Have a great weekend ~ Susan

Netts Nook said...

Snickers from Netts Nook I have had a few of those myself. It looks just wonderful love all the info you share. Have a nice long weekend.

girlichef said...

Gorgeous. I am such a bread slacker (I just need to take the plunge)...it amazes me to see you make such amazing bread!!

Natashya said...

That's a beautiful loaf!
I have no problem with seasonings with sketchy pasts, just like sechuan peppercorns! I have grains of paradise, is that the same thing as seeds of paradise? I thought is was a spice in itself. (I have gone so far as to buy a jar while in the city, but have not used it yet.)

Mary said...

Natashya, They are not the same. Grains of paradise is a type of peppercorn.

Shelia said...

What a beautiful loaf of bread! I'm sure if I tried this it wouldn't turn out as well! Sounds yummy, too!
Thanks for popping in to see me!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia :)

Lisa said...

That is one lovely loaf! I hope I make the time to try it someday.

Cathy said...

A very beautiful and interesting bread, Mary. You are quite the bread baker. I'm envious.

ButterYum said...

Looks wonderful... nothing better than fresh bread! I love your photos!!!!!

Pam said...

Your bread always turns out beautiful and perfectly cooked - this one is no exception.

Mary said...

Susan, I'm glad you found us. I hope you'll come again.

Mary said...

Becky, I do hope you'll be back. There's always room at the table for 1 more.

Mary said...

ButterYum, I do hope you'll be able to visit often.

Lori E said...

Does this ever sound good. Shopping trip in order.
Will I open my fridge after a day or so to find the giant Michelin Man oozing out of the door or will it behave in there?

Mary said...

Lori, I'm so glad you found us! As to the poolish - no need to worry it's not aggressive :). I hope you'll come again.

The Cooking Photographer said...

Yay! I figured it out after 3 hours of trouble shooting. A script went bad in my IE.

So, Mary. It's not you, it's me... Wait I feel like we're breaking up lol.

Beautiful bread. I can't wait to go read your posts I've missed!

~Laura

Mary said...

Good to have you back, Laura. I was beginning to have one of those "was it something I said" moments.

Susan said...

It is such a beautiful bread. You really have a talent. Now, get busy and figure out how to share this bread with the rest of us ;)

Madam Chow said...

What a BEAUTIFUL bread. And I love the explanations about the spice mixes at the beginning of your post!

Mary said...

Madame Chow, I'm thrilled - no honored - that you've stopped by. I am a big fan of your blog and the breads that you make. I do hope you visit more often.

Tammy518 said...

The bread looks and sounds wonderful! I've never been much at making bread, but I need to attempt it again.

Have a great weekend!

Red said...

Mmmm..I recently started making breads by hand (rather than using my beloved bread machine) and this one looks delicious. I live so close to Bob's Red Mill, so it's pretty easy to get carried away there.. LOL.. Thank you for your comment on my page (my Potato Ho Down entry - Dumplings w/Feta). Are you in Portland, OR? I thought I saw it mentioned somewhere. So am I :)

Mary said...

Red, welcome to One Perfect Bite. We're almost neighbors. I'm in Eugene. I hope you'll visit often. I've added your blog to the list of Oregon bloggers.

Mary said...

Hi Tammy, welcome to One Perfect Bite. I hope you'll visit often.

Amy said...

Looks beautiful. I've never tried a poolish - but I'll have to now.

amy@maisonbelle

Kathleen said...

That looks good! I am eyeing your breads and lemon tart..they look excellent!

mbkatc230 said...

This looks delicious! I love good bread, just wish I had the time (and patience) to bake it more often. And I've never heard rumours of spices being a controlled substance, that really made me giggle. Thanks for stopping by, Kathy

Chow and Chatter said...

impressive i love to see what you cook

5 Star Foodie said...

Really interesting bread with all the delicious seeds - i would love to try! Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day and your comment on the potatoes :)

mikky said...

your bread making are so inspiring... :)

Lynda said...

This bread is a work of art, and it's almost too pretty to eat! But, I'd love to have a slice or two- sounds delicious, Mary!

xinex said...

You are such an amazing cook and baker. Everything you make looks so good and delicious...Christine

Mary said...

xinex, I'm so glad you found us. I hope we'll see you often.

Jamie said...

It really is gorgeous! I guess I should put this on my Must Try list!

Hootin' Anni said...

Awwwwwwwww, now you went and spoiled my visions of the magic in magic paste. [LOL...kidding of course]

This bread recipe makes me hungry. Again. I am going to have to try this too.

And by the way, when you have a chance let me know where you posted the recipe of the chocolate turtle candies so I can come back and copy it. Okay?

Have a great weekend Mary.

Puna said...

Bread and pizza doughs are the hardest for me. But I'm going to keep trying!

Mary said...

Puna, making bread is like jumping in a pool for the first time. You have to try and try with a commitment to succeed. It probably won't happen first time with your first effort but it will happen. One other thing...in the great scheme of things it's also cheap!

Florida Sue said...

I don't know how to pronounce it..all I know is that I am salivating right now!

Mary said...

Sue, welcome to One Perfect Bite. I hope you'll come again - often.

Sara said...

Wow. That is truly a beautiful loaf (or circle, mound?) of bread. I'll bet it is super delicious.

burpandslurp said...

I love breads made with semolina flour...love the grittiness in it. This looks absolutely lovely...it kind of looks like an overlarge cookie!

Mary said...

Sara, thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll join us often. Have a wonderful weekend.

pinkstripes said...

It looks and sounds wonderfully delicious. Thanks for sharing!

the ungourmet said...

Yum! I love home baked bread so much! It always makes my house smell so warm and inviting.

I haven't done a lot of bread baking yet. I do have a terrific cookbook of breads from around the world. I can't pronounce a lot of the breads in there either!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

You always have the most interesting breads, Mary! I love the seeds (controlled or not), the shaping, everything!

MC said...

I love the bread and the pictures!

DH said...

I just wanted to say how delicious this bread is! Thank you! I have a HUGE bag of semolina. I'm not sure why I purchased such a large bag when I decided to 'try it out' the first time. But I was glad to have an excuse to use more of it, and will make this bread again and again :-p

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