Semelle are little rolls from Florence.


Adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field

  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active 
dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 3-3 1/2 cups white flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Olive oil for brushing

Stir the yeast into the water and let stand until creamy. Add 3 cups flour. Mix until the dough is solid and elastic – 6-8 minutes – adding additional flour, if needed.

First Rise.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

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 paper. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Just before baking, turn each roll over and reemphasize the cleft. Place the rolls – cleft side up – on a baking sheet dusted with corn meal.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, spraying the rolls three times with water in the first 10 minutes.