Almost every day after school, I would wait for my dad to bring home a bag of semitas from the local Honduran bodega. My parents enjoyed afternoon coffee more often than not, and as these are best dipped in hot coffee, it was a ritual of sorts for us to enjoy semitas with warm beverages on the porch. I didn’t drink coffee when I was young, so warm milk or hot chocolate was my go-to. Even when we moved to a New Orleans suburb, there were pockets of Central American people and markets, so finding these classic treats was easy.
This bread is a semisweet, dense brioche-style bread capped with a crisp mixture of oil and sugar and is best served with a warm cup of coffee. Having proper semitas is akin to having a proper croissant—the moment you know you are going to eat one is filled with a happiness that can only be satisfied by eating as many as possible.
- In a tall jar or medium bowl, mix the mature starter, flours, and warm water until incorporated. Cover with a lid or clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for 3 to 4 hours until doubled. You can use your levain immediately, or refrigerate it for 12 hours to use later or the next day.
- In a large bowl, mix all the final dough mix ingredients, squeezing them with both hands until a dough starts to come together.
- Cover the dough with a clean kitchen cloth or plastic bag and let ferment at room temperature for 6 hours. Refrigerate the dough for 12 hours.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter while you make la cubierta.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, coconut oil, and granulated sugar. Whisk rapidly until you have a soft, crumbly mixture. You want it to be more dry than wet, so, if needed, add a bit more flour. Turn the mixture out on to a work surface and gently knead it into a ball. Set aside.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Divide the dough into 120-g pieces (about 16 pieces) and shape each one using the balling up technique.
- Take a small handful of the cubierta mixture (around 20 g, but you don’t need to measure); make a flat disk with the mixture and place it on top of each rounded dough ball. Place the dough rounds on the prepared sheet pan.
- Proof the dough at room temperature for 4 hours until you see some cracking in the cubierta and growth in size.
- You’ll know the dough is ready to bake when the cubierta is cracking; however, it may not always crack. Use a razor blade or knife to cut some designs into the cubierta before baking, as desired.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Bake the semitas on the sheet pan for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Let cool for 15 or 20 minutes to ensure they are cooked all the way through before eating. Remember, these are best enjoyed with your favorite cup of coffee. Dip it in and enjoy.
Excerpted from New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford © 2020