Mix the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water and set aside to dissolve.
Combine the all-purpose flour and semolina in a bowl and stir in the dissolved yeast. Add the olive oil and egg and combine to mix well. The mixture should be about the consistency of mashed potatoes at first. If it seems too dry, add a little bit more warm water, in increments of 1/4 cup in order to avoid adding too much all at once. (If you do add too much, stir in a little more semolina.)
Add the salt and knead the dough on a lightly greased board for about 5 minutes, or until you feel the yeast and gluten start to come together and make a springy dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for a couple of hours or overnight.
When you are ready to make the buns, punch the dough down and divide in half. Oil your hands with olive oil. Take one of the dough halves in your left hand (assuming your right-handed) and squeezed out between your thumb and index finger a lump about the size of a ping-pong ball, and pull it off with your right hand. Roll it in your oiled palms and set aside. Continue until you've formed all the dough into balls.
Take a ping-pong ball of dough and roll it into a snake between your palms. Using a rolling pin, roll the snake on a lightly greased board into a long, thin strip of dough, about 1 inch wide and 4 to 5 inches long. Using your fingers, spread a small dab of butter in a thin smear over the dough. then roll the dough up in a tight cylinder. Continue until all the dough balls have been rolled.
Midway through this process, set a cast-iron griddle on the stove over medium heat and let it heat up while you continue to shape the the buns. When all the buns are formed, that the first cylinder and pat it between your oiled palms into a disk. You can use the rolling pin to help with this, but it should not be rolled too flat -- about 1/8 to 1/4 inch is plenty. Set the disk on the hot griddle and let it bake for about 2 minutes to a side, or until the sides are toasted brown and the inside is cooked through. It will look like a small squat English muffin and the inside should be rather flaky because of the layers of butter. Check the first bun to be sure the temperature is correct and adjust accordingly. Continue cooking until they're all done, keeping the finished ones in the oven until you're ready to serve.
Serve warm with plenty of honey and additional butter for the greedy.
|... an excerpt of:
"The Essential Mediterranean" (Harper Collins)
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