The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


gauri's picture

some success with atta bread, but suggestions welcome

August 18, 2012 - 2:30am -- gauri


Just wanted to share some success I had with atta (Indian whole meal flour) bread. I had posted ages back in this forum that I was struggling, and with lots of suggestions and loads of experimenting, I've finally managed loaves that seem alright!

I used atta- made from hard winter wheat berries that we buy in bulk every April which I got ground at a local flour mill. The recipe was part Laurel's kitchen and part suggestion from another local bread baking enthusiast. The recipe was as follows:

Atta- 4 1/2 cups

Water- 1 3/4 cups

Curd- 1/4 cup

dabrownman's picture

Found some Canadian durum attta in the Indian aisle at the Lee Lee’s Chinese grocery- real globalization at work.  The brand was Golden Temple.  The ‘atta’ makes this flour different than regular durum or semolina since it still has the bran in it.



We love the way the yellow durum flour softly colors the inside of white breads and gives the outside a rich brown hue.   This was more of a basic white bread with just a hint of rye and WW in the starter, levain build and dough at a total of 10%.  The durum makes up 47% of this bread with AP flour comes in at 43%.  The hydration was 73%.

 For some reason, probably because I froze it the week before,  the 33% each AP, rye and WW starter that we keep 80 grams of in the fridge, was weaker than normal so it was slow to build strength over the normal 12 hour, 3 stage, levain build.   Usually it is ready to go in 8 hours in the summer heat but it took a full 12 hours to double this time.  Maybe it didn’t like the white flour diet it hardly ever sees too.

Preheating and Sylvia’s steaming method went well but the dough stuck to the wooden articulating form and deflated as it released but it sprang back very nicely in the oven like a ciabatta.   I’m guessing poor forming and slashing caused the batard to split along the length of both of the long sides of the bottom - so the bloom at the slashes was pretty weak.


The crust browned nicely and came out of the oven slightly blistered and cracked.  The crust was very crispy when it came out of the heat and then softened as it cooled like a ciabatta. 

The crumb was a pale yellow shade due to the durum and it had some nice holes, was airy, soft and moist.

This is tangy SD bread that tastes good.  It will make some kind of fine sandwich for lunch.  Method and formula follow the pictures. 


This was a 2 day build where the levain was built and the flours autolysed with the salt  in the fridge for 10 hours waiting for the 12 hour levain build to finish .  At the 10 hour mark the autolyse was removed from the fridge so it could come to room temperature over the next 2 hours.

When the levain was ready it was mixed with the autolyse by hand with a spoon, kneaded on a floured surface for 1 minute.  The dough was then placed in a covered oiled bowl to rest for 15 minutes.  

5 S&F’s  were done on an oiled work surface every 15 minutes and the dough allowed to rest in the covered oiled bowl between each one.  The dough was then allowed to ferment and develop for 1 ½ hours on the counter before being refrigerated overnight.

The dough was removed from the fridge in the morning and allowed to come to room temperature for 1 ½ hours.    It was then pre-shaped into a batard and allowed to rest for 10 minutes before final shaping.  The batard was placed into a rice floured wooden contraption and allowed to double in a plastic trash sack until it passed the poke test – about 3 hours – about an hour longer than normal due to the levain not being as active as normal.

The batard was removed from the wooden contraption by folding it flat and upturning the batard on to parchment and a peel.  We liked the Egyptian stepped mastaba shape (it almost nearly left) on the bread so much, we will call this forming articulating appliance  the ‘Pharaoh’s Mastaba.’

Sylvia’s steaming method was used in the 500 F mini oven using a 1 cup Pyrex measure, half full of water, with a face towel.  This apparatus was micro waved for 1 ½ minutes to get the water boiling before putting it onto the cold broiler top as batard was load on it and placed with the steaming cup into the oven.

4 minutes into the bake the temperature was turned down to 450 F and steaming continued to the 12 minute mark when the steam and parchment was removed and the temperature tuned down to 400 F convection this time.  The batard was rotated 180 degrees ever 5 minutes until the batard was done, 205 F inside temperature  – about 20 more minutes – 32 minutes total.

 The batard was left in the mini oven for 10 minutes with the oven turned off and door ajar to further crisp the skin before removing it to a cooling rack.

Sourdough Durum Atta Bread      
SD LevainBuild 1Build 2 Build 3Total%
SD Starter1000102.00%
Durum Atta030306015.58%
Total Starter501008023059.74%
Levain % of Total26.38%    
Dough Flour %   
Durum Atta17545.45%   
Potato Flakes102.60%   
Dough Flour385100.00%   
Dough Hydration64.94%    
Total Flour500    
Total Water365    
T. Dough Hydration73.00%    
Whole Grain %4.00%    
Hydration w/ Adds73.00%    
Total Unbaked Weight872    
Baked Weight 77388.65%   
varda's picture

I have been admiring Andy's breads made with Gilchester flour for some time now - in fact since he posted this, and later this, and most recently this.   But I felt inhibited from trying it, since I didn't see any reasonable way to obtain the flour.   Recently Andy suggested that I might try using Atta flour, perhaps sifted to remove some of the bran.   The idea was to simulate the high extraction, low quality gluten properties of the Gilchester flour.   In fact I now have two different types of Atta in my closet - a 100% whole durum that I have posted on several times, and a more refined durum with some wheat bran added in, that I recently found at a local Indian grocery store (thanks Lynnebiz) both under the Golden Temple label.   I decided that rather than sift, I would just try the refined durum with added bran.    I proceeded exactly according to the instructions here with a couple intentional changes.   First the Atta flour rather than the Gilchester flour.   Second King Arthur AP rather than Carr's Special CC flour.   And one unintentional.   I autolyzed with starter rather than without.   I am so used to doing that that I didn't even check the instructions until it was too late.   Other than that I did the three starter feedings the day before, and left on counter overnight.   I did the first mix (before adding salt) in my Kitchen Aid, but did the rest of the mixing by hand very gently.    I also felt that more stretch and folding was necessary, so I did one more than the one that Andy directed.   And I baked in my WFO for around an hour.   I had a very hard time getting the oven up to temperature today since it has been extremely wet out, and no sooner was it up to temp when it started dropping off.   So while initial temperature was around right (600degF) by thirty minutes in it had dropped to around 380.  But fortunately crust had browned already and loaf had expanded.  

This is quite a large loaf - over a foot in diameter.   I had to score with my long bread knife - this dough is pretty wet, and a short blade would have caught in the dough.   We had this for dinner tonight - one slice was enough to cut in half for a chicken salad sandwich.   The taste is very mild given the high percentage of durum - that wouldn't have been the case if I had used the whole durum - but with very pleasant flavor.    Here is the crumb:

Reasonably even, but with mouse holes, which I've gotten every time I've used this flour.  

So in sum, I wish I had some Gilchester flour for this, but I think Andy's formula adapts well to this version of Atta and I'm glad I tried it. 


varda's picture

Continuing toward my goal of baking a non-brick-like Altamura type loaf with 100% Atta whole durum flour, today I increased durum flour percentage to 60%.   My formula is exactly the same as my last attempt which used 40% durum flour  with the exception of the difference in flour, but I changed process and technique a bit.   Last time I did an overnight retard.   This was mainly a scheduling issue but of course had an impact on the bread.   This time, I did not retard overnight, but the dough did have a 1.5 hour refrigerator sojourn in the middle of bulk ferment again due to scheduling.   The technique change was that rather than doing 4 in the bowl stretch and folds, I did 4 in the bowl scoop and pats.   This means I rotated around the bowl several times using three fingers to gently scoop the dough on the edge of the bowl into the middle and then pat the dough twice (that is scoop, pat, pat, scoop, pat, pat, etc.)    Franko said in comments to his post  "From what I've learned so far, this flour needs to be coaxed into forming a good structure for trapping CO2" and by patting I was hoping to encourage such a structure without tearing the gluten strands.   This patting idea came from Akiko in her last baguette post.   I didn't understand it when I read about it in her post, and I still don't understand it, but I found this dough even more manageable and well behaved than the 40% version that I posted about a few days ago.


I am encouraged by the results and plan to continue on to 80% on my next attempt.

varda's picture

Sometimes you have to back up to move forward.   I have tried to make 100% whole durum bread a couple times and couldn't achieve a good density or crumb structure even if I was happy with other things.    I found myself decidedly confused by the durum - did it want a long ferment so that the dough could develop without a lot of manipulation, or did it need a short ferment because it develops much faster than regular wheat doughs?    I decided to back up in the percent of durum and then move forward stepwise to see what I could learn.   So last night and today, I made a sourdough boule with 40% whole durum flour.    Even though I was only at 40% I tried to use the gentle methods that durum seems to need, so I mixed everything by hand, stretched and folded in the bowl with my hands, and generally did whatever I could not to frighten the durum.    I also retarded overnight for convenience sake.    Hydration is 68%.   Prefermented flour is 23%.   I used my regular wheat with 5% rye starter.   Here are some pictures of the result:

Next up:  60% whole durum boule. 

varda's picture

Franko's projects have a way of capturing my imagination.   His Altamura bread did that in spades.   Then to top it off when Sylvia showed her Altamura loaf sitting on her WFO floor, I couldn't resist.    Today I followed Franko's formula to the tee.   The only problem was I didn't have the Giusto fancy durum flour - just my Golden Temple Atta.   I took Franko's advice and did the 4 Stretch and Folds in the bowl.   I wouldn't call them regular in the bowl stretch and folds though, since I used my hands and just gently manipulated the dough.   I had watched the clip of the Italian housewife (in the comments of Franko's post) handling the dough, and I tried to channel her, even though there is a big gap between us.   I also did all the mixing and initial kneading by hand.   The dough is very easy to handle and not sticky so this was fine.   It is the first time since forever that I haven't mixed in my Kitchen Aid. 

I hadn't really thought about baking with fire in, door open when I built my oven but it worked fine for one loaf.  


I didn't get quite as much oven spring as I would have hoped for, so I think there's plenty of room for improvement.   But I'm pretty happy with this bread.   Of course, my title is a misnomer.   This isn't Altamura bread since it's made with Atta - whole grain durum flour, most likely sourced from just about every country but Italy.   Maybe next time.

Smita's picture

Yeast in India

December 20, 2010 - 5:58am -- Smita

Dear all,

I'm headed to India (Bombay / Mumbai) to spend time with friends and family over break, and they've asked me to bake with them! I am excited and nervous! I am a beginner baker and deligently use KAF and my scale for every little baking adventure. I'm thinking about making dinner rolls since they don't need a special pan or hard-to-find ingredients. Recipe from the Fresh Loaf here (

drdobg's picture

Atta flour

June 30, 2010 - 8:47pm -- drdobg

I have been experimenting with "atta" flour called for in many Indian flatbreads (such as naan, poori, chapati breads, etc.)  It seems to me it would be similar to some of the higher ash flours of french baking.  Can anyone give some insights to the similarities and differences of these flours?

gauri's picture

Struggling with whole wheat bread in India!

June 24, 2010 - 10:37am -- gauri


I've been browsing the site for a while now, but after my n-th not very good whole wheat loaf, I'm writing to check if anyone can please give me some pointers on where I'm going wrong! Basically, my bread bakes up quite dense, and it nearly does not rise at all in the oven.

I have tried Peter Reinhart's 100% whole wheat recipe. Some changes I made were

- I use the regular atta that we use for chappatis at home. We get the wheat ground ourselves. But I do not know if the wheat is hard or soft.

subfuscpersona's picture

What's the right grain for chappati flour?

May 19, 2008 - 5:02pm -- subfuscpersona

I home mill my own flour and need to know what is the correct grain to buy to make whole wheat chapati and other breads that are cooked on the stove top using a griddle (or cast iron frying pan).

According to my Indian cook books, chapati flour is called *atta*;  this is generally  defined as  a very fine whole wheat flour milled from the entire wheat berry. My problem - what kind of wheat is used for chapati flour?

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