The Fresh Loaf

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semolina flour

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dolcebaker's picture

semolina flour

I have added durum semolina flour to breads in the past, and have a recipe for a bread mostly made from this, I noticed that it seems to make the bread moister.  What is it about the semolina that causes this?  Can I add it to other 'dry' products to add moisture?  I am thinking that it just retains more water vs a high gluten flour (bread), and expect that whole wheat flour may do the same thing becuse of the bran?  Does semolina which I thought was just a different kind of wheat (harder) act the same way bran does?  (thinking as I type :o)


FoodFascist's picture

according to my textbook, you are right about bran. This is the gist of what the book says:

Wter-retaining properties of flour are desirable as the more water flour absorbs (i.e. the higher the hydration), the higher the yield per amount of ingredients used (i.e. with better water retention you'll get a bigger loaf out of the same amount of flour and water). If your flour doesn't retain water well, much of the water in your dough, rather than bind with flour, will remain free and thus dilute the dough and make it runny and sticky. 

Different batches of same type flour (e.g. AP/strong/wholemeal, etc) will differ in hydration. Air humidity is an important factor too. However, as a general rule, the properties of flour which increase hydration are: a high gluten count, milling grade (i.e. particle size), and high extraction (not sure if that just refers to the amount of bran in the flour, or germ as well).

Finely ground flours absorb more water because the combined surface of the particles is higher. Fibre, polysaccharids and pentosans found in wholemeal flour also hold on to water well.

Based upon this info, I'd say wholemeal flours are certainly going to serve your purpose well. I'm not sure why durum semolina would hydrate well, certainly not because of a fine grind, but maybe because it's high in gluten?

I'm sure experts will jump in soon enough.

FoodFascist's picture

My textbook also says that the average hydration rate for plain (pastry) flour is 50% of its weight, whereas for wholemeal flour it's 60%. It also mentiones 2 other varieties of flour but I'm omitting these because the book is in Russian and I'm not sure how the types of flour used in Russia correspond with the ones you'd be familiar with.

Hope this helps!