Sesame Semolina Filone with Olive Oil


I knew I wanted to make Tom Cat’s Semolina Filone (pronounce fi-LONE-ee) when I saw its picture in Artisan Baking Across America.  The image focus on beautiful pointy ends of huge bâtard-shaped loaves of deep brown-colored crust covered with golden sesame seeds.  The Tom Cat part of the name refers to  a very big artisan bakery in Long Island City, New York .   I have never been there but wish someday I’ll visit it and try out its breads.

As I read over the recipe, I found out that commercial yeast is used to raise the bread.  I have nothing against instant yeast, although I much prefers to let my starter flexing its muscles to raise the bread I eat when I have a choice, I do use instant yeast now and then especially for rich-dough bread.  Moreover, I purchased a whole pound of Gold instant yeast over the past holidays just to make Stollen; it has since occupied a large spot in the freezer so I’m obliged to use it up when an opportunity arises.  Also, I haven’t made any sesame crusted bread that I did not like such as this [sourdough] pan Siciliano and this sourdough loaf so I am ready to add this sesame crusted filone into my bread baking adventure.

When I study the scaled-down-for-home-oven version of the recipe I found several discrepancies on  the preferment’s hydration hence that of the final dough as well.  I think it stemmed from the way which Maggie Glezer applied to measure out 1/16 of a teaspoon of instant yeast… but I won’t go into that  here.  Anyway, I decide 110% hydration for the poolish and  82% for the final dough and go from there using the recipe as a guideline.

olive oil filone

olive oil-sesame-semolina filone

Sesame Semolina Filone with Olive Oil

Adapted from Tom Cat’s Semolina Filone printed in Artisan Baking Across America

Yields one 800-gram loaf

Time: It takes me 15 hours, of which about 30 minutes of hand-on work.

The Poolish

Ingredient Weight Bakers Percentage
Instant Yeast 1/16 teaspoon
Water, lukewarm 165 g 110%
Unbleached all-purpose flour (10% protein) 75 g 50%
Unbleached bread flour (13.3% protein) 75 g 50%
Total weight: 315 grams

The Dough

Ingredient Weight Bakers Percentage
Durum Flour 250 g 83%
Unbleached Bread Flour (13.3% protein) 25 g 8.5%
Unbleached all-purpose Flour (1o% protein) 25 g 8.5%
Water, lukewarm 205 g 68% (hydration)
Instant Yeast 1/4 teaspoon 0.3%
Salt 7.5 g 2.5%
Fermented poolish 315 g 105%
Total weight: 827 grams; overall hydration 82%


Sesame seeds 1 to 2 cups

How I do it:

Measure  1/8 teaspoon of instant yeast.  Divide it in half (I eyeball it).  Use half of it in the poolish.

measure instant yeast

measure 1/16 teaspoon of instant yeast

In the morning make the poolish by mixing all the poolish’s ingredients together with a spatula or wooden spoon until smooth.  Cover it well and let it ferment for 8 hours at room temperature about 70-72 degrees F, or until its surface are full of bubbles and deep wrinkles are forming.


poolish after about 6.5 hours

In the late afternoon, mix the flours and water with a wooden spoon until the flour hydrated; durum flour is a “thirsty” flour so the water absorbed fairly quickly.  Continue folding the dough over itself until it is fairly smooth; this takes less than 5 minutes.  Cover with quick saran wrap and autolyse for at least 15 minutes.  I let it rest for 1 hour since the recipe says the long resting time gives the bread better volume and sharper cuts.

You can mix by hand or by a stand mixer: sprinkle the yeast over the dough, mix in the poolish, salt and olive oil and continue mixing until the dough is very smooth.  The dough is soft and tacky but cleans the side of the bowl.


smooth, soft, tacky wet dough but cleans side of bowl

Place the dough in a bowl/container at least 3 times its size, cover tightly with quick saran wrap and let it ferment at 70-72 degrees F until it is light and bubbly and almost double, about 3 hours.  Turn the dough 3 times at 20-minute intervals, that is, after 20, 40 and 60, then leave it undisturbed for the remaining time.  I add an extra fold at 90 minutes to get it more structured.

filone dough

dough after the 4th fold /90 minutes

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface, loosely round it, cover and let rest for 30 minutes.  It needs to be extremely relaxed.  Shape the dough into a bâtard about 12-inch long and be very gentle to avoid popping any bubbles.  Carefully place the loaf on a peel or an inverted baking sheet lined with parchment paper, right side up; straighten it if necessary .  Mist/brush the loaf delicately with water and coat it with sesame seeds.  Sprinkle some flour on it.  Cover it well with a piece of saran wrap and place the whole thing in a large plastic bag.  Let it proof in a warm place 70-72 degrees F until it is very light, soft and well expanded, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F with baking tiles and prepare steam.  Make a single shallow cut down the length of the bread or 3-4 almost parallel slashes evenly spaced.  Mist the bread well with water and slide it and parchment on the baking tiles.  Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.  Bake the bread with steam for the first 18 minutes, then 35-40 minutes more without steam until the entire loaf is golden brown, and rotating the bread halfway into the bake.  At the end of the bake, turn off the oven but leave the bread in, and open the oven door ajar.  Let the bread cool completely on a rack, if you could.

Here are a few pictures of the loaf and its crumb:

fresh-out-of-the-oven filone

fresh-out-of-the-oven filone

olive oil semolina filone

the crust seems deflating a little bit the next day

olive oil semolina filone crumb


I give this loaf to my Mom since she likes white bread and prefers non-sourdough…But  that is going to change and she doesn’t even know it yet ;-).  And I am sending this to Yeast Spotting 2.12.10 where every week it features many wonderful baked goods from enthusiastic home bakers all over the world.

4 Responses to “Sesame Semolina Filone with Olive Oil”

  1. salaheldin Says:


  2. Mimi Says:

    Just beautiful with the coating of seeds!

  3. Joanne Says:

    I basically grew up on semolina bread. I love its flavor and texture. bet it was great with the seeds!

  4. […]  Its light crust and crumb, slightly sweetened with just a tad of honey, a bit of olive oil which goes very well with semolina flour, and enriched with crunchy crusted sesame seeds, all together created a light […]

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