The Fresh Loaf

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As of late, I have been taken by the flavor of durum flour in my breads. Most often I make Susan's sourdough and use about 15% rye and 5% durum along with the bread flour. I had been using more than 5% of durum flour but got a bit carried away. The flavor enhancing effect turns into flavor dominating if you go above 10%.(imho) Less than 10%, it adds a slight buttery flavor and beautiful color to the crumb.

But I digress. I had the question not too long ago about durum flour vs. semolina. My family likes the Semolina Sandwich Loaf (Dan Leader's "Local Breads" formula) and it takes half of the bag to make. Not having a local source for durum flour I had to order from KA and found the $8.50/3lb price to be a bit high. I am however, able to find bulk Semolina at a reasonable price. So I researched the internet and TFL for answers about durum flour and semolina. There seems to be quite a few terms to describe the same thing as well as milling terminology that muddies the waters on this subject. I did find one link where it mentions someone having luck with grinding semolina in their coffee grinder. However, no commentary or photos were provided (which are most helpful to me). I still had questions about how durum flour would perform versus semolina flour ground finely in my home mill. There was only one way to find out, and so I set about my own side-by-side comparison.

Just to consolidate some of the information I have found, here is a brief explanation of terms:

Semolina: In the U.S. describes the coarsely milled endosperm of durum wheat. Semolina actually refers to the type of grind/milling in the rest of the world (example: farina (Cream of Wheat) is same grind but from softer wheat). 

Durum Flour: Finely ground endosperm of the durum wheat berry. 


For a more thorough explaination, try these sites:


Additionally, if you type in "semolina durum" in the search on TFL you will get most of the threads that I read on the subject. I also googled, "grinding semolina into durum flour" and found some info. but not much.

Most of the information that pertains to this post as well as the Semolina Sandwich Loaf formula, pictures and discussion with more pictures can be found here:


So Here's what I did:

1: Ground semolina in my Whisper Mill home mill. (Ground using the pastry setting)

2: Mixed dough for Semolina Sandwich Loaf (Dan Leader's "Local Breads" formula) with finely milled semolina.

3: Mixed dough for Semolina Sandwich Loaf with KA Durum flour.

*The two doughs were mixed about 40 minutes apart so that I could bake them individually.


This test has a couple control flaws; one being that I don't have two of the same metal 81/2 x 41/2 bread pans. And second, the durum flour was purchased from King Arthur Flour and the semolina was purchased in bulk from WinCo. A better experiment would have been if I had two of the same exact bread pans and if I had ordered the semolina from KA as well. But time and money did not permit, and I also needed to use the WinCo semolina as this is my regular source. I also was curious to see how the bread pans would compare. 

Finely ground semolina on the left, Durum flour on the right.


The ground semolina was still a bit course even after milling on the finest setting. The durum flour is finer and silkier and less yellow in color. More like regular bread flour.

This picture shows the difference in bread pans. The loaf on the left is the ground semolina and the loaf on the right was made with durum flour. The oven spring was pretty much the same, as well as the coloring.

left: semolina        right: durum flour


Again, semolina on the left and durum flour on the right. Slight difference in color. 

My family tasted each one and spent a lot of time going back and forth trying to see if they tasted different. There was a slightly different taste to them- hard to describe. I don't think we would be able to tell the difference had I baked these on different days. But because we were tasting them in a side-by-side comparison- there was a subtle difference but neither was better than the other; just different. My husband thinks the difference in flavor could have been from the type of semolina I used. He thinks maybe it was a bit stale because I purchased it in bulk out of a bin and the bin was almost empty at the time. Could be. 

Bottom line: both tasted great and I think that finely ground semolina is a good substitute for durum flour. HOWEVER, in the future if I were to make this loaf again using ground semolina, I would add about 10%(?) bread flour to it. I think this would lighten it up and make it the same texture as the durum flour. 

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The inspiration for this bake:  

Susan at Wild Yeast has incredible breads on her site and I've printed out quite a few to try. This was one of them. 

I didn't have currants or pine nuts at the time, so I baked with what I had. The colors went with fall anyhow, and cranberry walnut is a winning combination. I was drawn to this recipe also for the semolina- curious to see how baking with it (vs. durum flour) would turn out.

Susan's formula was followed except for thechange of the fennel, currants and pine nuts. I also had to make adjustments for the starter as the hydration of my starter is 50% instead of the 100% starter called for in the formula. The crumb is a lot tighter than in a regular baguette, but I was relieved to see the pictures on Susan's blog to be similar to mine :-) I don't know how easy it is to get big holes with 50% semolina...

We all loved the taste of these baguettes and couldn't get enough. It was actually sad when they were gone. I plan on making this same formula, but shaped as a crown instead- for the holidays coming up. It would be a beautiful centerpiece lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Hmmm..I may have to make a practice loaf for that....

Thanks to Susan from Wild Yeast/ Yeast Spotting for sharing this recipe!

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I've been wanting to try "Pain Normande" ever since seeing it on SteveB's blog recently. Not only did I want to attempt to replicate his lovely bread, but I also conveniently have a ton of apples that I needed to use up. There are a lot of orchards around where I live so it's easy to come by (free!) great apples and fresh pressed apple cider. So, I threw a bunch of these apples in the dehydrator and got out the cider for this loaf. 

It's funny- I just read dmsnyder's blog about this very bread the day before I planned to bake. I'm glad I did because I took some of his findings/ comments into consideration. I wanted to avoid an "earthy" whole wheat flavor and instead taste more sweet apple taste. I've been baking Susan's Simple Sourdough almost every week and have been tweaking that recipe here and there and wanted to add some type of add-in, now that I have a good foundation for that loaf. Long story short, I basically disregarded the original pain normande formula and instead, made-up one based on Susan's Simple Sourdough. 

Here's what I used:

51g 50% Firm Starter

250g KA Bread Flour

40g Durum Flour

10g White Whole Wheat Flour (freshly ground)

6g Sea Salt

175g Apple Cider

25g Water

1/3 cup chopped, Dried Apples

I used the double hydration technique, mixing starter, and 110g flour (all flours mixed) for 3 minutes. THen added the rest of the flours and mixed in a KA for 3 minutes. 20 min rest, add salt, stretch and fold and incorporate apples. Then I did 3 more sets of S+F's at 30 min intervals. Into brotform and retard overnight. Take out 1 hour before bake and pre-heat oven to 460f. Baked 20 min w/ bowl ("magic bowl") and 25 min uncovered, last 5 min w/ oven door open.

Overall, I think it turned out pretty well. I was a little concerned at first when we cut into it that it was under-baked because it was a little tacky. I think this was caused by 1: not waiting long enough for it to cool (waited one hour, but it could've been more) 2: too much durum flour. If I use this percentage of durum flour again, I would use AP flour instead of bread flour for a little less gluten chew. Or, just use about half the % of durum and more WW flour. 3: The cider- it was really thick, so I think it helped to create a tighter crumb and chewier/dense texture. (i suspect, I don't know.) Anyway, I was very pleased the next day with this bread. It tasted so much better after an overnight sit in a brown paper bag. This bread was really good toasted. So next time, I would let it sit for 1/2 a day or more before cutting into it.

Oh, and as for the scoring- I wish I'd cut all the way around the apple stencil. Ah, next time...




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This year I hope to make Pain de Campagne shaped as pain de epi for the Thanksgiving table. I did a run-through to practice the cuts....

The one in the middle fit on my baking stone, the other did not- so I cut that one in two. Next time I will make skinnier baguettes before cutting and will probably make 3. Little individual epi rolls would be cute too.

The one in the middle also went a little long in the oven...but I'll say I was going for a more "european bake". 

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I've become somewhat obsessed lately with Durum flour. It adds such a sweet, buttery flavor to the bread, which is good- because then I don't add butter when I have slice after slice of this bread!

The boule on the left is the sourdough with durum. The loaf on the right is a vermont sourdough (a la Hammelman's formula). The scoring pattern didn't quite turn out as planned...anyway, the percentage of durum flour in this particular boule came to about 15%. That's only because I am rationing out my durum flour until I can find a less expensive source :-) Otherwise I would have it at about 25%.


When I feed my firm starter, I take the "waste" and make a teeny-tiny little sourdough boule- it's so cute and fun to make because it's so small. It's also a good one because I bake it the same day I mix; skipping the overnight retardation step (forfeiting more flavor, I know, but sometimes it's nice to not have to wait). I think the formula ends up:

25g firm levain

130g bread flour

20g durum flour

103g water

3g sea salt

I baked this with the "magic bowl" method, same as for the loaves above. But for some reason, due to the size, it doesn't come out with much of a crust. It's more thin and chewy instead of thicker and well, crustier. Still good though. Perfect size for 2 people! Okay, perfect size for one person to eat- by themselves.....

The small size is also nice for experimenting with different additions/ formulas. For instance, I attempted a chocolate cherry sourdough (which turned out really yummy) and didn't want to waste the cherries and the time if it wasn't going to taste good. Now that I know it does, I will make a larger loaf.




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For this loaf I roughly followed Daniel Leader's "Quintessential French Sourdough" formula and added Kalamata olives and fresh rosemary from my garden. 

Very tasty, and even more so on the second day.


and crumb.


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Well, this is really "Idaho Sourdough". I loved finding this formula because I wanted to cold retard the loaves overnight (to bring about more flavor and to make slashing easier) and also it fits perfectly into the 2 (and only) brotforms that I have. 

The flavor was great and I think this will end up being a regular at our table.

Tiny bit of an ear? 

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This past week I tried "Chad Robertson's Country Sourdough" as relayed by Shiao-Ping here:

Her formula (of course) turned out perfect. My attempt? Well, not so much. BUT- I was still very pleased with the results. :-)

On the last leg of the levain build, I was to add flour/water and ferment for two hours only. However, I was called away and had to cold retard again at this step so I resumed the next morning. So in all, I ended up with refereshing starter (of which I combined half of my 50% hydration starter and half of my 100% hydration starter to end up at the 75% hydration starter used in the formula) and then two more levain builds. Whew.

I used my couche for the first time, that was exciting! I do wish though that I had weighed each piece of dough before shaping as one ended up a bit larger than the other two. Practice makes perfect...

As for the slashing- hmmmm. I reallly tried here. I have even been practicing! I made a huge batch of AB in % dough just for the purpose of practicing shaping and slashing. I have both a lame and another scoring knife (kinda like an exacto with a handle) from King Arthur Flour. I held it at a 30 degree angle and went 1/4' to 1/2' inch deep but still can't seem to get an ear. I'll keep trying.

They tasted great but I'm starting to seriously consider some type of "sourdough" flavoring in my sourdoughs as my starters seem to be very mild. Just kidding, but I am having fun exploring how to get more sour from my starters. I had high hopes for the "levain builds" but it didn't seem to do much. 

Overall though, great fun with this formula. 

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In addition to the baguettes I made yesterday, I also mixed up my first batch of Susan's Sourdough. I built my firm starter last week and it was ready to go for today's bake. I converted my 80% hydration starter to both a 50% firm starter and a 100% hydration starter. Instead of the 25g white whole wheat called for in the original formula, I used 25g Medium Rye.

The "Magic Bowl" method is great. I can't believe the oven spring on this little loaf! However, I made quite a few mistakes on this loaf.

First, I started it too late in the day. 6:30pm I think it was, and my dough had not risen enough until about 11pm. I was up anyway, but for future reference I would start in the afternoon.

Second, I folded in the bowl instead of doing using the "stretch and fold" technique. I think it affected the crumb- not as open as I would have liked.

Third, I switched brotforms half way through the cold ferment. This is the first time using my brotforms. I just got a small oval and a 9"round (both from KA). I thought the dough would fit in the larger round but it was actually better suited for the smaller oval. So I switched them this morning and gave it another 2 hours in the fridge and then the 2 hours out.

Fourth, I used too much rice flour in my brotform(s).

Fifth and finally, I need to practice slashing! I did not slash deep enough, especially on the sides, and I think I did too many. I'll try a different pattern next time or modify this one. i also have a batch of AB in 5 dough going so that I can practice slashing on those loaves.

Despite all these errors, I think it still turned out pretty. It tasted great too! The loaf is gone now, so I'll have to make another :-) THis is a great formula to keep though and will probably end up being my go-to for sourdough. Also I think the firm starter really made a difference in the sourness of this bread as compared to a wetter starter. I also really liked using the bowl instead of steam. I keep burning myself with the steam and am so nervous. The bowl method was much easier.

and the crumb, not as open as I would have liked...

...still delicious!

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Today was a good day :-) I made baguettes.

I used the Pain a' l'Ancienne formula as recorded here:à-l039ancienne-according-peter-reinhart-interpretted-dmsnyder-m

The baguettes came out great and the instructions were really easy. It's surprising how little attention this dough needs. What I was struck most with in this baguette was the taste. It was literally "cool and creamy". I was reading in Reinhart's BBA and Reinhart describes a good bread as tasting cool and creamy on the palette. I really experienced that with this bread.

So, pretty good for my first stab at a baguette. Next time I will make a few changes in method:

-The formula here has a smaller quantity of dough than that in Reinhart's book. His formula would make 6 baguettes and this formula calls for dividing into 4 pieces. I believe dmsnyder made 2 of the larger pieces into pain rustiques and the other smaller 2 into baguettes. Instead of compensating for the two larger pieces and the two smaller, I just made 4 equal-sized baguettes and they ended up being too long for both my peel and my stone. There was a bit of arranging I had to do to accomodate the size. So next time I will make probably six small baguettes or 5 medium ones.

-Next time I will also not slash them. I tried two different slashing tools on 3 of the baguettes. Because of the nature of the dough, they both just drag and tore. I also did not slash properly or deep enough. The 4th baguette I left as "rustique" and it was the best looking of the bunch. Incidentally I gave that one away and didn't get a picture. Here are the others:

This is one formula that I will keep trying again and again. I do want to also try Anis' baguettes and Nury's light rye- but I could stop at this baguette and be satisfied. Which is great, because I would choose to eat a baguette over dessert any day.


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