Semolina Sesame Artisan Bread

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Sesame semolina artisan bread is definitely the favorite bread of my childhood, and is possibly still my favorite loaf of bread.

Sesame Semolina Artisan Bread

Sesame Semolina Artisan Bread is definitely the favorite bread of my childhood, and is possibly still my favorite loaf of bread.

I’ve been making various different types of artisan bread, off and on for several years. I started by grinding my own whole wheat grain, to make loaves of Homemade Whole Wheat sandwich bread for my kids.

To make crusty artisan loaves, I’ve used Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Françoise’s Making Bread in Five Minutes a Day method, and then used Cooks Illustrated’s recipe, and then  Mark Bittman’s recipe, all of which I’ve liked, for various reasons.

Not to mention (all the while I’m mentioning) my flour-laden, but successful and rewarding venture into sourdough bread. So, all things considered, I know my way around a loaf of bread. 

Usually, the way is via the butter dish.

Why This is My Favorite Loaf of Bread

The recipe I’m going to share with you today is an adaptation I came up with that sprang from two catalysts: first, a favorite childhood memory. And second, my love for whole grains.

First, the memory: I grew up in Charleston, West Virginia, which, in the 1960’s, probably wasn’t the most cosmopolitan town. But my Mom was smart enough to know a great loaf of bread when she found one, and there used to be a nice restaurant  in town called The Sterling, that sold their delicious and allegedly Grecian bread “to go”.

They also made a really good salad dressing, that my mother figured out how to make at home.  French dressing with garlic, Worcestershire sauce and blue cheese. And maybe a pinch of sugar, and salt. Savory, sweet, salty and spicy: it’s really, really good! Still one of my sister’s favorites.

Almost every summer Saturday night at our house was “Steak Night”. Steak Night was awesome: Dad grilled steaks in back of the house that came back in still smelling of a hint of lighter fluid, juicy and pink on the inside, and over which we ladled warm, melted garlic butter.

These we served with an iceberg lettuce salad with crisp, cool, chopped cucumber and slices of lusciously summer ripe red tomatoes, all drizzled with that special restaurant tangy salad dressing, and fresh, crusty, sesame seed-coated Grecian bread, to which I applied lovely, cool pats of creamy butter.

Years later, I tasted something similar to the Grecian bread of my childhood, called “Semolina bread”. I always wondered if I could make a similar loaf, myself, the way my Mom had figured out how to replicate that great salad dressing. 

What Is Semolina Bread?

Semolina flour comes from processed durum wheat. It’s the flour from which the world’s best pasta is made. It is yellow in color and higher in gluten, thus producing a heavier, more dense flour. The first time I tried to duplicate this recipe, I bought some Bob’s Red Mill Semolina flour, which comes in little 24 oz. plastic bags, that you can find in the “organic” section of most grocery stores. It worked well, and if you don’t have a grain mill with which to grind your own flour, Bob’s Red Mill will give you excellent results.

However, now we come to the second part of my inspiration for my adaptation of the recipe, which involves my love for whole grains. This past May I attended a homeschool curriculum fair,  and I saw The Breadbecker’s had a booth, there. (They have everything you would EVER need to make homemade bread, and, in particular, if you are interested in making bread made with whole grains.)

I have purchased wheat berries from them before. So, I cruised quickly through their booth, to see if they had anything that might pique my interest. And lo, and behold, they were selling Durum Wheat Berries, which I knew to be the whole grain “granddaddy” of semolina flour.

That may not be great news to you, if you don’t have a wheat mill. If you don’t, just use Bob’s Red Mill, and you’ll make great bread! But since I have a wheat mill, and had a yen to make my very own loaf of at least partially whole grain semolina flour, ground from my very own Durum wheat berries, I was pretty thrilled.  Could I do it?

One obstacle that I knew was that whole grain flours produce a bread that tends to be more dense. The germ and the bran have been already extracted from a typical semolina flour. Could I make a bread comprised of whole grain durum flour that would be reminiscent of the Grecian Bread of my youth? Could I make a delicious crusty bread with a bit more density to it than most artisan bread recipes, but with enough lift that it wasn’t a brick? (My previous experience making artisan bread with home-ground whole wheat had not been anything I was ready to blog about.)

Semolina Sesame Artisan Bread

If Jesus is the Bread of Life, this might just help me love Him even more.


I could, and I did, and you can, too. And remember: if you don’t have a grain mill, just let Bob’s Red Mill do the grinding for you, and try this bread recipe anyway. It is SO yummy! I’ve made 3 batches since, and it is now my go-to bread recipe.

No mixer involved.

No kneading involved.

No kidding.

Couldn’t be easier.

Important Recipe Note for those using Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour, rather than whole grain durum flourIf you use Bob’s Red Mill Semolina flour, I recommend you use 3 c. semolina flour, and decrease the all purpose flour measurement that I give in the recipe to 3 1/4 c., making the total amount of flour in either version of the recipe equal to 6 1/4 c. flour. So, no matter which ratio of flours you use (3 to 3 1/4 or 2 to 4 1/4) you should come out using a total of 6 1/4 c. of flour. Since the Semolina flour is lighter than the whole grain durum flour, you can use more of it in the ratio. Make sense?

This recipe makes four 1 lb. loaves, or two 2 lb. loaves. I find a one pound loaf at my house barely makes it to being cool before it is completely devoured, so while you can make a smaller 1 pound loaf, you might want to try the 2 lb. size, if you live with ravenous wolves, like I do.

Semolina Sesame Artisan Bread

Oh, goodness, me. Pass the butter.

Sesame Semolina Artisan No-Knead Bread

Allow it to cool before cutting. Repeat after me: ALLOW IT TO COOL.
Hang it. Give me the bread knife, NOW, or someone’s getting hurt.

The Recipe for Semolina Sesame Artisan Bread


Semolina Sesame Artisan Bread

Sesame Semolina Artisan Bread


  • Semolina Sesame Artisan Bread
  • 3 c. lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 c. durum whole wheat flour (see recipe note if you are using Semolina flour)
  • 4 1/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 T. sesame seeds
  • 1 T. cornmeal
  • 1/2 t. cornstarch


Mix the yeast and salt with the lukewarm water in a large 5qt container. I use a large plastic tub with a lid, but I do NOT seal the lid to make it airtight.

Mix in the flours using a large spoon. (I use a large wooden spoon. By the end of adding all the flour, I wet my hands to mix in the last bits of the flour into the dough. The dough is a fairly wet, sticky dough. You can certainly use a mixer if you'd like to, but I don't find that I need one.)

Cover (not airtight...this needs to off gas a bit...but then...don't all God's creatures need to do that? Yeast is no exception.). Allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top) approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used at this point, or you can store it in your fridge for up to 14 days. As if you could wait that long!!!

When You're Ready to Bake

If you're going to bake one 2 lb. loaf, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off about half of it. (About 2 lbs.) Return the other half of the dough, to the plastic container and store it in your refrigerator till you're ready to use it. Dust the dough you'll be baking with more flour and quickly shape it first into a ball, and then into an oval (ish) shape. Allow to rest for 40 minutes on a sheet of parchment paper that you have sprinkled with cornmeal. (If you HAVE a pizza peel, then use that to let it rest on, and to help you transfer it into the oven. I don't have a pizza peel, so I use parchment paper as my sling for transferring the bread dough loaf to the oven onto my baking stone. It can stay on the parchment paper for the baking: no problem. No need to transfer it off directly onto the stone.)

Twenty Minutes Before Baking

Preheat the oven to 450º, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack, and the bottom of a broiler pan on the shelf just below that.

Time to use that mysterious cornstarch that’s in the ingredient list.

You’re going to make a Cornstarch Wash to make the bread shiny, and help the sesame seeds to stick to the outside of the bread.

Cornstarch Wash

Blend the 1/2 t. of cornstarch with a bit of water to form a paste. Add 1/2 c. of water, and whisk with a fork. Microwave for 60 seconds, till mixture appears glassy. You can store the unused portion in the fridge, covered with plastic, for the next loaf.

Just before baking, paint the surface of the loaf with the cornstarch wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and slash the surface of the bread (I usually make 3 diagonal slash marks) about 1/2″ deep, using a serrated knife.

Gently place the loaf and the parchment paper onto the hot baking stone, using the parchment paper as a sling to carry the loaf to the baking stone. Pour 1 c. of hot tap water onto the broiler tray below it, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for around 30 minutes, until deeply browned and firm. Adjust baking time to the size of your loaf, and your own oven’s performance.

Allow to cool before slicing and eating.


Important Recipe Note for those using Bob's Red Mill Semolina Flour, rather than whole grain durum flour:

If you use Bob's Red Mill Semolina flour, I recommend you use 3 c. semolina flour, and decrease the all purpose flour measurement that I give in the recipe to 3 1/4 c., making the total amount of flour in either version of the recipe equal to 6 1/4 c. flour. So, no matter which ratio of flours you use (3 to 3 1/4 or 2 to 4 1/4) you should come out using a total of 6 1/4 c. of flour. Since the Semolina flour is lighter than the whole grain durum flour, you can use more of it in the ratio.

 Ready to try this? Pin it! Share it! You know you should!

What’s your favorite type of bread?


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  3. I love this bread recipe! I find it hold it's shape better if refrigerated 1st. Unless I'm doing something wrong. Anyway after refrigerating for a couple hours my bread was just as shapely as pictured and yummy!. making many loaves to give out to family for thanksgiving.

  4. does the T stand for teaspoon or tablespoon?

  5. Can I just half everything to make a smaller batch? I'm using Bob's semolina flour

  6. I will be starting this loaf later today. I love semolina bread and this sounds awesome. I just hope to clarify: by granulated yeast, do you mean active dry or instant? Both like warm water to start, but adding the salt right away to the yeast seems strange. Usually salt and yeast don't get on too well. And when I let it rise on Day 1, do I truly let it deflate 'punching down'?
    Thank you for sharing your recipe
    Jen J

    • Jen J, I used active dry yeast.
      I honestly agree with you about adding salt to the proof. So just add it when you normally add it, which I'm guessing is later in the process. That's what I usually do in making bread as well.
      Just gently pressing it down, without the force of PUNCHING or "squishing hard", is what I meant.
      Your questions help me to clarify my recipe writing, so I really appreciate them.
      Although I actually made this just the way it's written, I recognize that some of this is counterintuitive to other times and other ways/recipes I've used. As best I recall, I combined about two other existing recipes to come up with mine. I wrote this up using both of those to help me outline the process I used. So, some of it is "different" than my norm, but I wanted to try the processes used in both of those recipes.

  7. I’m back! I had great success with this bread for the past 2 years but have forgotten the process/time I used for 2nd rising from the refridge. Use to double?

  8. If you are not refrigerating the dough, do you still have it rest an additional 40 minutes after shaping into an oval ball?

  9. Rosemary Havron says

    In the ready to bake section, when you say cut off about half. Do you need to make two loaves? Or do you discard half of your Dell, very confused. Thank you recipe looks great and I’m looking forward to trying it .

    • I'm sorry that was unclear, Rosemary.
      In the article I say this, "This recipe makes four 1 lb. loaves, or two 2 lb. loaves. "
      At another point, a bit further down, in the recipe, I say this, "The dough can be used at this point, or you can store it in your fridge for up to 14 days. As if you could wait that long!!!"
      What I thought was clear was that you bake the bread dough whenever you want a loaf of fresh bread. So, if you want two 2 lb. loaves, all at once, you could bake both of them all at once. Or, if, like my family, one 2 lb. loaf is sufficient for a meal, you can store the remaining bread dough in your fridge up to 14 days.. But I didn't say that specifically in the "Ready to Bake" section that you mentioned. I'm not sure what you mean by discarding half of your Dell, but I'm going to make a guess that you meant half of your dough. Discarding half of this dough would be a very sad waste, indeed. 🙂 Thanks for your question.

      • Rosemary Havron says

        Thank you so much for the clarification I am on it now. I did mean Dough unfortunately Dell came out of my computer LOL I have a tendency just skim the wording and read the actual recipe therefore I missed the 4 1 pound or 2 2 pound loaves notation. Will pay more attention from now on LOL thank you for your site

  10. What is a baking stone? Never heard of it. I am new to making bread obviously. I tried several times with Bob’s but failed badly. I am excited to try again. As an Italian I’ve eaten semolina my entire life. Living upstate NY away from Brooklyn I can’t find really good semolina bread. I hope I succeed. Thanks for your recipe and help.

    • You can find them at cooking supply stores. Basically, it's a piece of baked ceramic that helps distribute the heat evenly, to the bottom of the bread or pizza crust.

  11. I've looked through the recipe I can't find a bake time anywhere? I'm guessing approximately 40 minutes or until it just really looks done.

    Any guidelines on this thanks. You Gylah

    • Dear Chuck,

      This was in the recipe: "Bake for around 30 minutes, until deeply browned and firm. Adjust baking time to the size of your loaf, and your own oven’s performance."
      Hope that helps.

  12. After I take the dough out of the fridge. How long do I let it rest before shaping it and letting it rest the 40 minutes?

  13. Patti Mcloughlin says

    Can I use bread flour instead of regular flour

  14. I have baked this bread for the holidays for the past 3 years. I usually make up 4-6 batches and refridgerate all, then bake them as needed so they arrive warm. Everyone loves it and so do I. It is so easy and always turns out great.

  15. Howard Feinberg says

    This looks great. Do you cover the loaf for the final rest or leave it to rest uncovered?

    Thanks in advance for your response!

  16. I don’t think my bread is rising appropriately after the initial rise. What did I do wrong? It seems to get wider but not rise. I hope it rises in the oven. obviously new to bread making! Thx

    • Susan Williams says

      There are so many variables that could be causing this that it’s really hard for me to diagnose your issue, April.
      One possibility is that your yeast has lost it’s vitality. Are you proofing it to check and see if it’s still bubbly? You could be killing it by water that’s too hot. I don’t know what type of flour you’re using. I don’t know what the temperature is of the place where your bread is rising. I don’t know how you’re measuring your flour, nor if you’re adding too much liquid. I’m sorry I can’t answer definitively, but these are some of the factors you could look at to diagnose the problem.

  17. Mike Mannicci says

    Love the recipe and for the first time it came out ok. Two things:

    1. It stayed flat and didn’t rise upon baking.

    2. It doesn’t have much taste on its own. Should I add salt later? More salt than the recipe calls for?

    Any tips tricks or advice is appreciated!

    • Hi, Mike. I'm not sure I would have stayed with a recipe for bread that did not rise. Kudos to you for your tenacity. How many times did you try the recipe?
      As you can see from the pics, I never had a problem with my bread not rising.
      When it comes to bread, if you feel like this doesn't have enough salt, then, by all means, add more salt.

  18. Thank you for the semolina flour ratio. I used 3 C. Bobs Red Mill semolina flour and 3 1/4 C. bread flour and it came out great I even got an oven spring in 8×5 bread pan at 375 degrees for 30 minutes without convection and 5 minutes at 400 degrees with convection on. I did proof the yeast in 1/2 C. water with a pinch of sugar and mixed it with the dry ingredients (old habits die hard).

    My bread also has 1 1/2 C. of shredded jarlsberg that I added to the dry ingredients. Toasted – this bread is addicting. 2 loaves may be a weekly diet. Thanks for posting a great recipe.

  19. Steve Katz says


    Your salt amount appears off. It should be 1 1/2 Tablespoons not teaspoons.

    Salt to total flour weight in bread dough is 1.8 to 2 percent which would bring it to approximately 17 grans or 1.5 T (not t) for your bread.

    I have tested this out several times. You need the salt for both flavor and gluten development.

  20. Jennifer Guberney says

    Hi Susan, I have made this recipe both times and the loves are very flat. Tastes good but flat (heavy) My yeast is new, however it is the fast active yeast. Does that make a difference? Tastes great for crustini's when toasted, but they are the shape of biscotti rather that a full loaf. My loaves don't look like the ones in your picture. Thanks

    • Yeast can make a huge difference.
      Also things like the weight of your 3 c. of semolina flour, and your 3 1/4 c. all purpose flour. Using a scale will let you know for sure you are using the correct amount/volume of flour.
      Another possibility is the protein levels of the flour you are using. When you use a higher protein flour, you tend to get bread that makes a better gluten network, and thus, rises better. You can check the grams of protein on the side of your flour bag, in the nutritional results. Since you told me you're using AP flour, you might switch, for instance to bread flour, which has a higher protein level.
      I'm including a link that may help you suss out your problem. Bread has few ingredients, but each variable is important. Thanks for your input!

  21. Jennifer Guberney says

    I should have mentioned I used 3 cup semolina flour and 3 1/4 cup all purpose flour

  22. Susan, thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I’m a fairly new bread baker and have had great success with this, with no alterations in spite of living at 6,000 feet. It isn’t the first Italian bread recipe I’ve tried, but the first using semolina and is the one that most closely resembles the bread my Nanna used to bring to us from the bakery in her Italian Brooklyn neighborhood.

  23. Can I bake this on a regular nonstick baking sheet with cornmeal/flour dusted on the bottom if I don’t have a baking stone? Will it change the cook time?

    • Susan Williams says

      You can, certainly do that. I am not sure (since I’ve never done that) if the bottom crust will be as crusty. No, it should not change the cooking time. Good luck!

  24. I always feel more comfortable using weight measurements like you mentioned. What would the recipe be using grams? I haven’t tried the recipe yet.
    Thank you

  25. Sigrun Panetta says

    Hi Susan, Thank you for this recipe. I’m a new bread baker although I cook and have some baking experience, bread was always very intimidating to me. Well, thanks to your recipe I can now say I know how to bake bread. The only problem I now have is that my husband loves his fresh bread so much it’s one more thing I can add to my “to do” list weekly! We thoroughly enjoy the recipe and I feel I’ve conquered a looming challenge! Thanks again!

  26. Hi Susan,
    Was wondering if you’ve tried this recipe in a dutch oven.

    • Susan Williams says

      Dear Lori,
      I have made a loaf of artisan bread quite successfully in a Dutch oven. However, I don’t thin I have tried this specific recipe in one. If you try it in a Dutch oven, I’d love to hear your results! Good luck, and thanks for dropping me a note.


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