The Fresh Loaf

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Atta Durum Flour

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varda's picture
varda

 

I have of late, been baking a lot with durum flour.   I started with a whole durum which gives absolutely delicious flavor as an addition to wheat flour, but becomes just ridiculously hard to work with at very high percentages.   After seeing Franko's fabulous success with his Attamura using a more refined durum  I decided to put my efforts on hold until I could find a less than whole durum version of Atta.   Then I saw Lynnebiz's recent post and realized that the answer for my Atta needs was only a few miles away at an Indian grocer in Waltham, Ma.  Sure enough when I got there, I found a wall full of flours including the 20 pound bag of Golden Temple Atta that I ended up buying.   The ingredients are listed as durum and wheat bran with a fiber content of 2g per 35g serving.   This contrasts with Golden Temple 100% whole durum whose fiber content is 4g per 30g serving. 

So I set off with great optimism to make 100% Atta bread with my new flour, and quickly realized it wasn't so simple.  While it was instantly clear that dough made with the new Atta was much more well behaved than dough with whole durum, my first few tries were the sort that the less said the better.   Then I started to get marvelously breadlike results from the outside, but when I cut into the loaves: huge tunnels from one end of the bread to the other.   This was discouraging.  

I concluded that I was having dough strength problems and decided to work systematically on that problem.   After seeing the SFBI article that I posted about earlier I realized that my thinking had been too simple.   Yes, it's true that a weak flour like durum needs more mixing to develop the dough, but I also had to be more careful about other things.   For instance, I had been mixing flour, water, and starter in the first mix and then adding salt in the second.   While I might be able to get away with that for regular wheat doughs, it wasn't a good idea for baking with 100% durum since the point of autolyse is not only to hydrate the flour, but also to strengthen gluten bonds.   I had been using autolyse as a jump start to fermentation so wasn't getting its benefit for dough strengthening.   This time I mixed flour and water first, and added starter and salt later.   I had been doing a 30 minute slow mix in my Kitchen Aid to develop the dough.   This time, I mixed by hand.    A spiral mixer might be just the thing for durum based dough but  given the importance of mixing for durum dough I thought I could do a more thorough job by hand than with a home mixer.   The third change was  serendipity.   Since I had been making so many attempts at a durum loaf, my durum starter had matured and by now was quite active.   While I had known that this was important from a fermentation perspective, I had not realized until reading Didier Rosada's article that it was also important for dough strength since the acids in a mature starter contribute to dough strength.   Finally, I decided not to take any chances on having a huge tunnel develop due to explosive ovenspring.   This meant that I had to make sure that my dough was not underproofed when it went into the oven, and second I couldn't risk the high temperatures of my WFO.   I baked in my gas oven at 420 (instead of the usual 450degF) to slow down oven expansion.    With all that, I took another shot at it.   For the first time, I got a uniform crumb with absolutely no tunnels.   And so concludes lesson 44 in breadmaking - Introduction to Dough Strength.  

 

On a different note, I have been thinking about self-scored breads since seeing several beautiful examples on this site.   I proofed this one with seam up, and noticed it opening in interesting ways.   So I managed to get it seam side up onto the peel (not that easy) and didn't score.   It came out a bit funky to say the least, but I'm sure I'll be posting more on this later.  

 

Formula and method:

10/9/2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starter

 

9:30 AM

2:30 PM

 

 

Durum Seed

113

Feeding

Total

%

 

Whole Durum

1

 

1

 

 

Fine Durum

70

150

220

100%

 

Water

43

90

133

60%

 

 

 

 

353

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

%

 

Fine Durum

500

156

656

 

 

Water

300

94

394

60%

 

Salt

12

 

12

1.8%

 

Starter

250

 

 

24%

 

 

Mix flour and water by hand.   Autolyse for 30  minutes.   Add salt and starter.   Mix by hand for 20 minutes. For first 5 minutes or so, press dough between fingers to get starter and salt thoroughly incorporated.   After that, place on counter and roll into log first in one direction, then 90deg off to develop the dough thoroughly.   Dough is not sticky, and no flour on the counter is necessary.   Mix until dough is soft and silky.  Bulk ferment for 2 hours with 1 stretch and fold on counter.   Cannot pull out dough like wheat dough since it is too fragile.   Instead press out gently, fold up, and roll into a ball.  Shape by pressing out gently and then folding in the sides in a circle.   Roll into a boule.  Place upside down in basket. Proof for 2 hours.   Place seam side up on peel covered with semolina.   Slide into 420 degF oven for 20 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without.  This bread is self-scored.  

varda's picture
varda

Recently I've been trying to bake a 100% Whole Durum loaf loosely following Franko's Altamura project.    After a couple of attempts, I backed off and baked 40%, 60% and 80% durum loaves, trying to get a feel for working with a high percentage of durum flour.   For the 40, 60. and 80% versions, I used my regular wheat starter so that at least I didn't have to worry about a whole grain starter on top of everything else.   I was reasonably happy with the 40% and 60% versions and felt that I could bake them happily at any time.   The 80% came out too dense - the really hard part is developing the dough without breaking the fragile gluten of the durum. 

Yesterday I decided to give it another shot at 100%.   I took my semolina seed starter and fed it up - then added durum in three more feedings - the third last night.   There was no way I was going to leave it on the counter overnight - anything could happen while I was asleep, so I popped it in the refrigerator right after feeding, and then took it out in the morning.   It only took 3.5 hours to ripen even cold from the refrigerator.    So I mixed everything up by hand and proceeded with trying to develop the dough.   Every half hour I rotated the bowl while using the fingers of my hand like a scoop to turn the edges into the middle, then pressed down with my palm.   This seemed to me  to be the happy medium between being gentle and yet still developing the dough.   After two hours and the 4th scoop and press I felt there was a sudden softening of the dough which up to that time had been fairly puffy.   I pressed it out into a thick disk and folded one edge on top of the other just past the middle and placed on a floured cloth, sprinkled the top with flour and covered with the end of the cloth.   Then proofed for a little over an hour.   Then baked as usual at 450F for 20 minutes with steam and 20 without, then 10 in the oven with the door cracked open and heat off.    It got more oven spring than I expected, and while not as light as the 40 or 60% versions, nor as light as Franko's (made with more baker skill and extra fancy durum rather than whole durum) I thought it was reasonably respectable.   Actually we had it for dinner with fish and sauted vegetables and it was definitely people food rather than fit for the coyotes.  

Formula:

Semolina Starter

 

65%

 Hydration

 

 

on 8/9/2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1:30 PM

3:30 PM

7:45 PM

10:40 PM

      Total

           %

Seed

26

 

 

 

 

 

 

Durum

 

 

30

51

75

172

90%

Semolina

16

20

 

 

 

20

10%

Water

10

20

20

35

47

132

69%

 

 

 

 

 

 

324

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Final

    Starter

 

   Total

           %

 

 

Semolina

 

15

 

15

 

 

 

Durum

500

133

 

633

 

 

 

Water

340

102

 

442

68%

 

 

Salt

12

 

 

12

1.9%

 

 

Starter

250

 

 

 

23%

 

 

 

 

This has several deviations from proper Altamura:

1.   Higher percent prefermented flour because I'm just more comfortable with that

2.  Whole Atta durum - that's what I have

3.  No attempt to simulate WFO - I had enough balls in the air as it was

4.  Higher hydration - the 80% with  62% hydration was just dry, dry, dry - it did go out for the coyotes.

varda's picture
varda

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
varda

Last month, while experimenting with durum flour, I hacked together a loaf that turned out to be surprisingly tasty.   Fortunately when I'm hacking around, I'm disciplined enough to write things down just in case.    Yesterday, I made it again, with a few minor changes, and it came out more or less the same as last time, so I'm declaring it a keeper.  

 

 

Formula:

6/23/2011

 

 

 

 

 

w. 68% starter

 

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

Percent

 

Bread flour

250

125

375

48%

 

Whole Rye

125

9

134

17%

 

Whole Wheat

125

 

125

16%

 

Atta Durum

139

 

139

18%

 

Water

435

91

526

68%

 

Salt

14

 

14

1.8%

 

Starter

225

 

 

17%

 

Total grams

 

 

1313

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Method:

Mix all but salt and autolyze for 1 hour.   Mix in salt.   Bulk ferment for 2.5 hours with 2 stretch and folds.   Shape into boule,  place in lined basket, and proof for 1 hour.   Then refrigerate overnight (9 hours).   Place on counter and proof until ready.   Bake at 450F for 20 minutes with steam, 25 minutes without.

The last time I made this I did not retard overnight.   This time I added a small amount more durum.   Neither change seems to have had much of an impact.   

varda's picture
varda

Ever since Franko posted his semolina filone I've been wanting to try it.   But I didn't want to follow Maggie Glezer's directions (recipe on p. 124 of Artisan Bread) completely since I wanted to adapt it to use a starter instead of a Poolish.    I also didn't have access to fine durum flour - just the big bag of Atta that I hauled home last week.   I have made a few tries at it - today's was my third.    It is the sourest bread I have made recently, with no change to my starter, so I assume it is a function of the fermentation of the durum.   The hardest part seemed to be to get proper opening of the scores.   I think I finally got it.   It wasn't any one thing - just getting a hang of the dough and making small changes to the formula.   The difference in flours meant that Franko's experience - particularly how much water required - didn't match mine.  

Perfect for an afternoon snack.

Formula - with 66% hydration starter 97% white, 3% rye.

Semolina Filone    
5/30/2011    
  Final Starter Total 
Atta Durum300 30057%
Bread flour10011921942%
Rye 551%
Water2608234265%
Starter205  24%
Salt10 101.9%
   875 

 

Mix all but salt.   Autolyze for 30 minutes.  Add salt.   Bulk Ferment for 3 hours with 2 stretch and folds.   (I didn't do mine evenly because of outages.)   Shape and dust with flour.   Place seam side up in couche.   Proof for 50 minutes.   Spritz with water and sprinkle sesame seeds.   Score down center flat to counter.   Bake at 400F for 20 minutes with steam, 25 minutes without.

varda's picture

Suggestions for using Whole Durum flour?

May 24, 2011 - 4:07pm -- varda
Forums: 

I recently bought a large bag of Atta Durum flour.   I didn't really need a 20 lb bag in my closet - already have too many small bags there - but there it is.   I have been making semolina this and semolina that and don't really want to make that all the time, so I am looking for suggestions on how to combine this flour with others in a nice way.   For instance, does it play well with whole wheat flour, rye?    Or is that just weird.    Looking for suggestions....   Thanks.

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