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Gluten content of semolina/durum

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yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

Gluten content of semolina/durum

I know semolina and durum flours are not the same, but I'll ask about both. What sort of gluten content do they have? I've seen everything from, they're high in gluten, they're low in gluten, they're high in protein but low in gluten, and they're high in gluten but it's not "good" gluten. So what's the story, and what might I want to consider when baking with them, in terms of blending them with other flours, adding extra wheat gluten, and so on?

suave's picture
suave

You know how white flours are not equal?  Some are strong, some are weak, some too close to the pure starch to be called flour.  Same with durum flours, some are well suited for making bread, and some are not, except it does not say it on the bag.  For example, our local stores sell two varieties of Italian durum flour.  One is perfect.  The other has famous name, costs almost twice as much and behaves exactly like rye flour.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

First, I don't like it, it has some strange aftertaste that I never appreciated.

As for gluten development it behaves exactly like any other durum wheat flour. Initially it seems to want 80-90% water, than after a short while it releases most of it. The point is knowing it and adapting to its oddities. I use almost always 66% water, than knead for a lot of time. The dough will become in turn: sandy, muddy and finally smooth, very well developed and slightly tacky. Generally the whole process takes 20-30 minutes, but it's worth the volume and the taste you get... with a better durum wheat flour, of course :)

 

suave's picture
suave

Not de cecco, and when I say rye, that's exactly what I mean - no appreciable gluten development, pumice-like dough structure, and appreciable sour taste.

PS.  The resulting bread is crappy, and not dissimilar in appeance (pale) and taste (not worth mentioning) to imported parbaked Altamura I recently sampled at local italian deli.

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

What I'm getting at, is, once properly kneaded or developed, will it yield a nice rise and airy, open crumb, or is it going to flatten out and give me a tighter, but softer crumb? If I want the former, should I add gluten? Or would that defeat the whole purpose of using semolina in the first place?

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

but not necessarily it will give an airy crumb. Depending on how you handle and shape the dough the crumb may come out airy or tight as in a brioche, generally soft.

The problem that most people have with durum flour is that when they see that the dough becomes sticky after few minutes of kneading they add flour until the dough returns manageable. This is bad! the bread will come out heavy and dry. Avoid this mistake if you want a soft and airy bread. Energy is the only ingredient that is needed, not flour:-)

Moreover don't hasten to bake. Let the shaped dough triple in size before baking it, the flour permits it if you developed a good gluten. In the oven it will spring even more.

suave's picture
suave

Again, it depends on the flour, some of them are meant for breadmaking, and some aren't.   You won't know until you try, and your experience won't necessarily translate to a different brand.

As for adding gluten, I think it defeats the whole purpose of baking bread at home.

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

how do you figure?

suave's picture
suave

For me home baking is about learning to work with what you've been given.  If the flour does not lend itself well to a particular recipe it is not flour's fault - that's on baker who could not recognize that fact, who could not see that this bag needs to be treated in a different way.  Sure, gluten can be added, with enough gluten you can make dough made entirely of Idahoan flakes hold, but that just steals from the learning experience.  For the same reason I disapprove of proofers - sure, it's convenient, but then one ends up here, perplexed by a fairly trivial problem.

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

Fair enough, thanks for explaining your approach, but I don't subscribe to it. To me baking is about manipulating ingredients and techniques to get a desired result. Mais vive la difference.

suave's picture
suave

Of course the question is whether gluten qualifies as an ingredient.  To me it is really an improver.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

"To me it is really an improver."

suave,

Although I know what you mean, I wouldn't even give gluten the honor of being called an improver, at least not from my experience. It may be good for some things, but it didn't help me get the bread I desired. I finally got a quality bread flour, instead of trying to "improve" the flour I had been using. The gluten only made my bread more gummy textured.

yankeedave,

If you want to learn how to bake with Semolina, you'd be better off, in my opinion, trying different semolina flours until you find one that works for you, as was mentioned above, rather than trying to get an improvement by continually adding junk to your bread. But, at the end of the day, it's your bread. Do what makes you want to do it again. That's all that matters.

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

Obviously we're getting into subjective matters here, as implied by the term "junk." I'm not looking for people's opinions as to whether you "approve" of adding gluten. All I want to know is what the result is likely to be. Yes, I can find that out for myself by doing it, but I was hoping for some objective answers, to give me some guidance before I do that. I'm really not interested in anybody's opinions about what's acceptable and what's not.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

One man's trash is another man's treasure. Nothing wrong with "junk" if it's what you like. In my experience, the gluten I added to my bread didn't do what using a higher-gluten flour did. Having more gluten in your bread is supposed to make it rise higher. With a flour that contains a higher amount of gluten, that works. With a flour that is lower in gluten, and gluten being added in separately, it doesn't work. Or, at least, it didn't work for me. So, it underperformed, therefore, to me, it is junk. That is just my terminology. I didn't mean to insult anyone's product or put anyone down for adding gluten to their bread. I simply believe in only adding things that are actually going to make an improvement in the outcome. I have a hard time being objective about things that don't work as advertised. Apparently, there are some things gluten is good for, like Mock Duck. Just not bread.

yankeedave's picture
yankeedave

Thanks for the clarification.