The Italian Baker's Semelle Rolls Recipe

The Italian Baker's Semelle Rolls Recipe

[Photograph: Donna Currie]

As always with our Knead the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Italian Baker to give away this week. Enter the contest here.

Semelle are little rolls from Florence where the dough is used to make several different buns including some that require special cutters. Semelle don't require the cutters but the shape is attractive, anyway.

This recipe from The Italian Baker is astonishingly easy, and the results are pretty darned good. I made these for company and the leftover rolls left the house with the grateful guests.

The recipe makes only 10 buns, which is a pretty small batch for a bread recipe, but you can whip up another one in no time. These buns were one of my favorites from the book. I'll be using the shaping technique with other recipes, too.

Adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field. Copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

  • Yield:Makes 10 buns
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:3 hours


  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package / 0.2 oz / 7 g) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups (10.5 oz / 300 g) warm water
  • 3 3/4 cups (17.5 oz / 500 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (0.4 oz / 10 g) salt
  • Olive oil for brushing


  1. 1.

    By Hand
    Stir the yeast into the water in a mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 
10 minutes. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, and the salt. When the dough is too stiff to stir, plunge in with your hands. Knead on a lightly floured work surface until solid and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

  2. 2.

    By Mixer
    Stir the yeast into the water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix with the paddle until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Change to the dough hook and knead until solid and elastic, 3 to 4 minutes.

  3. 3.

    First Rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

  4. 4.

    Shaping and Second Rise. Cut the dough into ten equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Brush a little oil over each and let rest 10 minutes under a towel. With the edge of your hand, make a deep indentation down the center of each ball; be sure to press down firmly. Place the rolls, cleft side down, on floured parchment or brown paper. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

  5. 5.

    Baking. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Just before baking, turn each roll over and reemphasize the cleft. Place the rolls, cleft side up, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.