The Fresh Loaf

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Processing semolina to make durum flour possible?

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Cob's picture
Cob

Processing semolina to make durum flour possible?

Hello,

Due to difficulty sourcing durum flour in the UK, is it possible to blitz general fine semolina to a finer texture, approaching a flour, to make yeasted cornbread or Altamura style bread?

 

 

 

JacquelineColussi's picture
JacquelineColussi

Hi Cob,

Yes, give it a try! (I was excited to learn this just last Saturday -- at an open house at Bennison's Bakery here in Chicago :-) 

Granules of durum we know as couscous. Grind the couscous a bit, and we have semolina. Grind it finer, we have durum flour.

Many thanks to Chef Kim Montello (a Master Baker who was visiting from Johnson and Wales University in Miami, Florida), who gave a mini-lecture on grains, meals, and flours at the open house.

Happy baking!

Jacqueline

isand66's picture
isand66

I have done it several times using my coffee grinder.  Works like a charm after I ordered the wrong flour last time.

plevee's picture
plevee

I've used semolina without further milling. It seems to work pretty well if you give it time to soften in a preferment or if you retard the dough at some stage.

Patsy

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Depends on your equipment.  Doesn't work in the food processor, I processed durum semolina for 20 minutes in my Cuisinart FP, and it did not come close to making fine durum flour.  Sounds like others may have had better luck with different equipment.

In my experience, using coarse semolina in place of fine durum only works if it is a small amount of the total flour.  In a bread with a higher proportion of durum flour, even an overnight autolyse won't allow the semolina to absorb as much liquid as the finer flour.  And the texture of the bread is denser and less high rising with the semolina.  But if you reduce the hydration a bit and don't mind compromised texture, it can work and is delicious in flavor.

Cob's picture
Cob

Thanks for the contributions.

I fear my mini Cusinart (1 litre bowl only) processor will not be handle the 'fine' semolina, though very fine it is (only slightly gritty, sandy.) Seeing as FlourChild has an FP (I assume that's a cheffy top-notch kind), I doubt my little mini could process enough in good time. I have made caster (superfine) sugar from granulated in it, but that took forever.

Flourchild, I know what you mean about dense, rubbery crumb. Semolina, or soaked grains, tends to have that effect, dependent on dough %. I've noticed the fat, coarse semolina yields the chewiest, heaviest crumbs, whilst the fine grains can still yield good, light airy bread. I'm sure Altamura bread should be quite light....I would prefer not to use fine semolina, however fine.

On an aside, for anyone reading, I did not mean making durum flour for 'yeasted cornbread'. Duh, I was having a brain overload looking at masa harina for corn tortillas at the same time!

Don't suppose anyone knows if cornmeal can be processed to make masa harina or are they two different parts of the grain?

JacquelineColussi's picture
JacquelineColussi

Cob and FlourChild -- I just tried making a 20% semolina bread and ended up with the dense, rubbery crumb problem. What have you found is the maximum percentage of semolina you can include in a formula, without the crumb becoming unpleasantly dense?

Thanks,

Jacqueline

P.S. Masa harina is corn that has been treated with slaked lime (calcium hydroxide). Wikipedia has a neat graphic of the process from corn to masa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nixtamal.jpg

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Jacqueline, if your durum flour is fine, it is possible to make a loaf with good texture even if you are using 100% durum flour.  If your flour is the coarser durum semolina, I'm not sure what the maximum is to avoid an overly heavy or compromised texture.  Were there other factors that may have compounded the effect of the coarser flour?

JacquelineColussi's picture
JacquelineColussi

Hi FlourChild, I think there were probably other factors. I'm in the process of experimenting, to sort them out. Will post again, after I re-work the formula. Thank you for the information!

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Cob, thanks for the vote of confidence, but my FP (FP= food processor) is the same brand as yours, just a larger version :)

Cob's picture
Cob

JacquelineCo,

 

I mainly make this recipe by Dan Lepard: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/17/semolina-barbecue-buns-baking-lepard

Tried several sorts of semolina, and have preferred the fine semolina though the amount of water has to be increased.

Heavy grains will weigh crumb down. As for rubberiness, not sure. The plumper or more saturated your grains are, the more moist your overall crumb. Baking dough for longer should dry them out, but you sacrifice a good moist, crumb overall from the wheat flour. I suspect you need to soak your crumbs to a certain point, and not beyond, i.e. not mush.

JacquelineColussi's picture
JacquelineColussi

Hi Cob, thank you for sharing your recipe. I was curious to compare it to the formula I'm working on, so I converted it into baker's percentages:

This formula calls for 66.67% hydration (I'm currently using 80% and ending up with a gummy crumb) and 14.29% semolina or cornmeal (while I'm using a combination of semolina + cornmeal totaling 30.5%). I'll experiment with these 2 variables and see where it takes me. Thanks for the ideas!

Cob's picture
Cob

Jacqueline, good luck. It'll be interesting to see how it compares.

I do make my dough slightly wetter than his, and only with fine semolina now for a lighter, airier texture.

The wetter the dough, the shinier, more glue-like the baked crumb, that won't crumb easily when cut. Touch it, and it feels rubbery over floury. The shiny part has not been dried out with handling:

Here is what my semolina buns look like form the above Lepard recipe:

I've looked at your recipe, and there's lots of add-ins. Have you tried reducing the amount, and lowering the hydration?

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

durum wheat is very hard. For this reason it's milled coarser than soft and hard wheat flour.

Yet there's no need to remill it, unless it's the very coarse grind used for couscous. Semolina for pasta is perfectly fit for preparing bread. The only thing to keep in mind is that you have to knead A LOT durum wheat flours to get an airy crumb. Get to full gluten development.

Don't be fooled by Altamura bread: it's far from being lightweight.

Cob's picture
Cob

I'm becoming confused.

I often see chefs/recipes make fresh pasta with 00 flour (at a pinch, standard plain wheat flour) and dust it usually with 'semolina' (do not specify the grade, though one expects 'fine'). (I suspect this is just like the Dove's Farm fresh 'pasta' flour: is a blend of wheat and durum flour. Oddly enough, they call it high protein (9.9%) and claim it's suited to bread and pizzas. It may be, but it's hardly high protein.)

But recipes for dried pasta always use pure durum flour, since it needs to remain 'hard' and not mushy when cooked. Fine, I get it so far.

Just now, I've had a another look for suppliers, the Flourbin here in the UK, a source of baking ingredients, say semolina and durum flour are the same thing: it's all in the name. It's cool for pizza, breads and pasta.

I have 3 different semolinas in my cupboards. One extra coarse (TRS brand, very nubbly/grainy), and the others: medium (Sainsbury's: 'for semolina pudding') or 'coarse' and 'fine' (Natco, both 12.5% protein).

Oddly enough, though trial and error, I've noticed how fine both TRS' 'coarse' and 'fine semolina' are (East End brand is just the same). I bake with the former, the latter is so fine, it's hardly gritty, approaching a flour. They also make a cornmeal that's the same, 'coarse' (for muffins, though too fine IMO) and 'fine', like a flour.

Looking at Natco, they say the coarse is for soups, desserts, and dried pasta. The fine is simply 'freshly milled Durum wheat and ground to a superfine texture'. I though durum flour was for both bread and dried pasta? I'm wonder what their fine semolina is for?

I'm beginning to suspect, here in the UK anyway, that it varies across brands, and it simply is in the name. I've often found 'coarse semolina' to be quite fine, and 'fine semolina' to be so fine, I'm unsure how to use them (same too with the Carribbean Island Sun brand). I actually think, some 'fine' semolina are in fact suitable as durum flours, though not with DOP status. (Or is it simply the bread with DOP status, cannot remember....). But am not certain, durum flour has a protein of at least 15% right? In which case, I am wrong, because these Natco products only have a 12.5%.

Amongst this uncertainty, I think the same confusion applies to cornmeal.

I apologise if this was confusing to read!