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.