The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

faux semolina

livingdog's picture

faux semolina

I tried baking with a semolina I found in the local Jewish grocery store. The brand of the ... "flour"? is Stybel. When I openned the bag the "flour" had the consistency of cornmeal! I was very surprised but followed the recipe closely. The resulting "dough" was more like a soggy cereal. Panicing I added ~2 cups of All-Purpose (Heckers) flour and the dough began to be manageable. Baking it at the designated 350 deg the bread wouldn't rise and it tasted bland.

I now know the bland taste comes from unbaked white flour, which apparently needs 450+ to be properly baked. The lack of a rise is probably due to the semolina having the consistency of grits - the yeast couldn't break it down, couldn't eat as much as they would have if the semolina had the consistency of a fine powder.

Here are the images:

Any tips about semolina would be appreciated.


Thanks in advance,

-ld (Ecc. 9:1-4)

LindyD's picture

Semolina is a coarse meal ground from Durum wheat.  It takes longer to absorb water and doesn't respond well to long mixes.

You really should consider getting a good book that discusses the various flours and what to expect when mixing them.  Hamelman's Bread is one.  

mrfrost's picture

What recipe were you attempting? Many(most?) recipes with "Semolina" in the title actually specify "durum flour" as the ingredient. Don't ask why this is so. Who knows?

Frequently semolina, semolina flour, meal, or whatever you call it will work. Guess it depends on the recipe, the fineness of the grind, one's expectations or whatever. Many(me included) had good to great results with the "Semolina Sandwich Loaf", one of the featured/favorites/top recipes here at freshloaf. Some had fair to lousy results. Again, it just depends.

From what I have gathered, semolina, the actual ingredient, will always have some grittiness to it. Durum flour, which is harder to find, is actually a fine powdered flour as opposed to a semolina, which by definition(?) is a meal.

Maybe all this was relevant to your post? Many discussions on the topic here which can be found by doing a search.

Good luck.

livingdog's picture

To mrfrost:

The Recipe:
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup lukewarm (110degF) water (I waited about 30 mins for the boiled water to cool down to 110)
2 Tbsp butter (I used olive oil instead - they're both fats)
2 Tbsp nonfat dry milk (I used 2% liquid milk ... is this a miss?)
1 tsp salt
3 cups semolina flour

The Directions:
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water in a large bowl
Mix the butter (oil) and dry milk (2% milk) into the remaining cup of warm water
Add to the yeast with the salt.
Stir in the semolina.

KNEAD: turn the dough onto a work surface floured with a little more semolina and knead it for 8 to 10 mins.

At this point the mushy wet semolina was impossible to follow the remaining directions so I tried to compensate by adding the all-purpose resulting in the failed loaf. It was edible, and the crust was the usual 1/4" thick, but it wasn't anything like the beautiful semolina you achieved mrfrost.

Anyway, to complete the recipe there was a 1st Rise, Shaping, 2nd Rise, and then the Baking.




To LindyD: then what's the purpose of coming to the forum? Also, I asked for suggestions. If you have none, then why did you post??



-ld (Ecc. 9:1-4)


LindyD's picture

It was to buy a book to learn about the various types of flour and how to use them in your baking attempts.

mrfrost's picture

Thank you.

All things considered, substitutions generally produce acceptable to satisfying and excellent results, the final product may not be exactly as intended. And if the result is poor, the subs have to be considered as possible culprits.

So, instead of 2 Tbs of dry milk powder, you added 2 Tbs of liquid milk, and oil for the butter. If I am not mistaken, I believe semolina does not absorb liquids as well as the typical wheat flour, and it also may take longer at whatever it does absorb. This, and with the typical possible differences between flour brands, atmospheric conditions, and the way one measures a "cup of flour" could have made for a wetter dough. Semolina should measure a little more consistently than regular flour though. I have also read that it is easier to "overknead" a dough that is substantially, mostly semolina.

Depending on what the intended result were supposed to be, this is probably one of those cases where it is up to the breadmakers ability to end up with a final dough that was consistent to what the recipe was calling for.

livingdog's picture

Yeah! I see what you're saying. The "grit" of the semolina was the issue. My "compensation" with the flour was in the wrong direction. I should have let the water (oil doesn't absorb well and the milk?? was supposed to be dry...) autolyse longer!


Thanks mrfrost!! :)


Edit: ...hahaha! I just started to read mini's reply - about letting the semolina sit and soak up the water! This is so cool - either grind th flour or let it soak for 6 hours. No grinder so soaking is my method.


Thanks ever so much for your all's help! :)


-ld (Ecc. 9:1-4)

MichaelH's picture

taught you much about manners. LindyD is one of the most accomplished and well liked members of this forum.

Read her reply carefully......with your attitude, your baking experiences will continue to be, as she said, attempts.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In my aisa market.  It is light yellow, fine like flour, not gritty and works nicely into a dough without letting it sit and soak up moisture.  The package shows a woman in Indian dress, like India the country. 

Are we dealing with more than one definition of Semolina?  Not sure but flour is flour and meal is meal.   I have seen it vary throughout my travels.  Semolina from Australia looks like cream of wheat from the U.S.; tan to white with grit and specks sometimes.  I've seen big grit and fine grit and I've seen flour, the flour always has the "flour" word on the package. 

I do know that the coarser semolina will absorb the water if left to do so.  Adding more flour with throw off the hydration and the AP will compete with the semolina for the water, soaking it up before the coarser flour.  That would explain the loaf not rising, just too dry and the gas escapes rather than being trapped.

There are two options:

  1. grind the meal finer into flour before using or
  2. cover the wet meal tightly and wait for the meal to soak up the moisture and make a note in the recipe as to how long it took. (I'm guessing at about 6 hours.)  The water will be soaked up but the grit will remain.  It will not dissolve but stay as tiny pieces of grain.  It will have a baked texture similar of corn bread made with corn meal and not rise much as flour would.  If I found myself in this situation, I might add an egg instead of flour to thicken up the dough


mrfrost's picture

"Flour is flour and meal is meal", but yet, you are referring to the flour as meal: 

"1. grind the meal finer into flour before using or

2. cover the wet meal..."

Semolina is a coarsely ground flour, ie., a meal.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yes, I wrote meal because livingdog wrote he thought his flour was more like meal, so I called it a meal to avoid confusion...  did I cause more?  oops, didn't mean to confuse anyone.  Maybe I should use gritty instead.   Meal is always gritty to me.  :)

1. Grind the gritty stuff finer into flour before using or

2. cover the wet gritty stuff...

Did you know it is just after noon here, actually one o'clock and all this bread talk is making me so hungry...  I'm busy recycling bread...  got too intensely spiced loaf and now I'm up to inventing new recipes with altus.  I also have too many apples.  Hey, that first recycle loaf was really moist...  300g of moist altus.  Very nice.  oops, back to subject.  


ananda's picture


I know it is associated with durum wheat only these days, probably because of the S. Italy derivation.

However, the coarse meal, to which you refer, is actually [originally] a by-product from milling the wheat down to flour using the traditional bolting method.   That means passing the flour through increasingly fine silk sieves [nylon is used in the modern equivalents I have visited in the 2 local mills here]

From the wholemeal, the extracts are bran, then semolina, then middlings and finally white flour.   You can read more about the discussion here: including some useful contribution about different grades of semolina from nicodvb.

I'd also echo LindyD's advice to read Hamelman on flours.   Combining this with visiting TFL is a more powerful learning method.



Brot Backer's picture
Brot Backer

The truth about semolina and all flours for that matter are that their fineness completely depends on how the grains are milled. That's why there are about 12 million types of wheat flour out there and less than 10 types of wheat. Semolina is just a general term for durum wheat ground between powder and sand consistency. You must live in a very humid area, in all your posts you complain about 'soup' dough. Try cutting back on water.

mhjoseph's picture

At the Italian store in my neighbor, they have three varieties of semolina of varying levels of fineness on the self next to each other. I asked the baker at the in-store bakery which one I should use for making semolina bread.

He told me that any one of them will work, it's matter of personal preference depending on how you like your bread.

Nickisafoodie's picture

Not to stir the pot more, but as several suggest above soaking is the easiest answer given the first preference would be to use a finely ground flour - but since the original poster doesn't have a grinder - a long soak is best.

You can also take this approach to corn meal or bran if making corn or bran muffins - I grind my fine, but if you don't have a grinder, using store bought granular type corn meal, the muffins are much lighter by allowing all to soak for two hours, then add the baking powder/soda, mix, and bake.  a finer lighter corn bread.  Same re bran muffins.

So the same approach will work for the problem raised above on semolina, soak, soak, soak...

nicodvb's picture

the grits won't permit to develop a decent level of gluten.

I wouldn't say that livingdog has a faux semolina, rather the opposite. As Andy already wrote, at least in Italy semolino/a is as coarse as corn meal, while other (and finer) durum wheat grinds have different names. I don't know if in USA semolina is a term used to indicate flour or not, but I wouldn't be suprised if it retained a similarity with the italian term.

EvaB's picture

my mother always scalded the corn meal, or wheatlets before mixing into the breads.

Scalding is just that, pour boiling water over the meal, and let sit until cool enough to use in whatever type of bread recipe you are using.

Failing that, find a cheap electric flour mill, (one from WalMart cost my brother about 45$ and we use it for lots of things) and remill the coarse grains or grits or whatever you wish to call them.