The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Durum vs Semolina

looshF18's picture

Durum vs Semolina

My apologies up front to all.. I am new to this and not even sure I'm using the site blog correctly.

I am extremely new to the world of bread. After reading several books and the information contained on this site, I am super motivated to dig in!!!

I have done an exhaustive search to figure out whether I should be using Semolina or Durum (fancy/extra fancy) in a recipe - many of you are likely familiar with the recipe for "Pane di Altamura" in D. Leader's LOCAL BREADS.

After my research, I know the difference between Durum and Semolina. My confusion comes in when I read the recipe and it lists the ingredient as "Fine semolina (durum) flour." Question is: which one do I use? Semolina or durum? Is it confusing or am I as simple minded as my wife occasionally reminds me that I am?

Both are readily available but I'd rather not spend the extra money on something I will get little/no use out of (until I get comfortable baking).

Bottom Line: When I go to the KAF website, do I want to purchase the "Extra Fancy Durum" or do I want the "Semolina" flour for the above recipe? Both are in 3 pound bags and similarly priced.

A follow-on question if I may... will I, as an extremely novice (i.e. BRAND NEW) baker, find better use for the Durum or Semolina in future attempts at the perfect loaf?

I sincerely appreciate any inputs and really enjoy all of your shared information!

nicodvb's picture


if semolina is coarser than durum wheat flour (as here in italy) you need the durum flour variant to make bread.

I don't know if italian "semolino" is exactly the same as american "semolina", but if so it's absolutely impossible making a 100% durum wheat loaf with it because it's simply too coarse and won't develop any gluten. Here semolino is used to make creams, cake fillings and very few kinds of pasta (gnocchi alla romana). At most it can be used to make a soaker with hot water, but surely not a loaf.

looshF18's picture

Thanks Nico. It looks like the semolina flour offered at KAF is indeed more course than the durum. In fact, the semolina description says it is a course grind.

I saw your post and pictures on a previous blog describing all the different types of semolina and durum. That info (especially the pictures) was really helpful.

I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my novice question.

Happy Baking!!!


Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...I recently purchased a 20 pound bag of Mumbai Gold, a durum flour produced by Conagra, for about $6.99 at Costco.  I have semolina on hand as well and this flour is much more finely ground.  I have used it in several loaves and find it works well and the loaves rise well.  I understand the gluten in durum flour can vary in strength, but this seems strong.


longhorn's picture

I think you will find it safer to avoid flours that say "semolina" if you want to use it in bread. Focus on durum. If it is gritty it isn't durum flour. 

Good luck!


copyu's picture

"cream of wheat" [or "farina" in the USA (and probably in Europe?)] Just a 'heads-up'! This is made from much softer wheat, as far as I know

I've bought the white 'farina' here, in Japan, under that 'semolina' name, once. I needed it for some dumplings and sweet porridges, so I was a happy customer. I didn't bake with it, though

Generally, the imported, bright yellow 'durum semolina' I get here is just like a finer version of "couscous". It's usually not quite as fine as 'durum flour' which is not available here at all. However, it still makes excellent bread at up to 40% of the flour weight. (Just my experience, with long, slow fermentation...)

Best wishes,



looshF18's picture

To all,

Thank you so much for the inputs and for clearing that up for me. I realize it's somewhat of a "repeat topic" in this forum and I sincerely appreciate you all taking the time to answer such a novice question.

Can hardly wait to get that durum flour in and try the recipe. If I can figure out how to do it, I'll try to post the pictures of my very first loaf.



ananda's picture

Hi Loosh,

Best of luck with baking with the durum flour.

I know you've obviously found other related threads on this topic, from what you write above.   Here's a link to one on my blog, with excellent contribution from nicodvb, poster above:

I wanted to link the product back to its traditional derivation, as this is the type of semolina which I now work with.   Actually, I have made bread with it too, tring to replicate an old English loaf called Bermaline, also posted here:

Best wishes


rolls's picture

I started a recipe and later realized it calls for durum flour not sure where I can get this and is there any substitute if I used regular flour instead I guess that would be a disappointment? It's the pugliese from the bread bible

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I'd just use all purpose for now and find some durum.  If it's Rose Beranbaum's Bread Bible, there is more than one pugliese recipe I think.  It shouldn't disappoint because of the flour difference.


Chuck's picture

Question is: which one do I use? Semolina or durum? Is it confusing or am I as simple minded as my wife occasionally reminds me that I am?

I think the situation really is confusing - it's not your fault.

My impression is the terms "durum" and "semolina" are tossed around and intermixed rather casually and in not-quite-standard ways by marketing types, who sometimes don't even seem to know exactly what the terms really mean. Having done your research and knowing how the terms are related, most of the time you should be able to correctly "interpret" what's printed on the different bags into what they actually mean. Go more by what it actually looks and feels like than by what the label says.

(BTW, my experience is the coarse semolina makes excellent "non-stick" and is very handy to have at hand. It's like miniaturized ball bearings, smaller than cornmeal and tasting more like the rest of the bread.)