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100% Whole Durum Boule "Attamura"

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varda's picture
varda

100% Whole Durum Boule "Attamura"

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.

Comments

Syd's picture
Syd

Nice bake, Varda.  I see your atta durum is definitely much darker than my twice milled semolina rimacinata flour which is quite yellow in appearance.  Yours has a nice whole wheat look to it.  So it must contain more of the bran which is going to have a puncturing effect on the, already, fragile gluten.  I would say, under those circumstances, you have achieved an admirably open crumb.  How did it taste?  And what did you mean when you said:

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

All the best,

Syd

varda's picture
varda

Hi Syd.   Thanks for your comments.    An authentic Altamura would be baked in a WFO with the fire going and door open - see Franko's posts on the subject.   I could have just done that in my WFO but the first time I tried it, the crust hardened up and bottom split just as it would in a regular oven with no steam.   Franko simulated the authentic environment by baking with oven door open, no steam.   I figured if I either baked in the WFO as directed or used the simulated approach, my bread would just be a disaster.   It was hard enough getting a serviceable bread with a whole grain durum and a whole grain starter.   As far as taste, it was actually really good - not sickly sweet - not too dense - pleasant flavor.    I do prefer the 60% variety as far as taste goes, and it's a lot easier to work with.   So since this is all about eating, I think I'll go back to that in the future.   -Varda

lumos's picture
lumos

Lovely looking loaf....and the write up!   Reading about your very careful TLC to your Attamura dough was really something. I almost felt like I was watching it in front of my eyes. Really enjoyed reading this for it was so enlightening which is typical of your blog articles, but this also taught me it may be a liiiiitle bit too early for me to tackle Atta flour in my breadmaking. I mean......

"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."

::GASP:: ................... gosh, that was scary.....

best wishes,

lumos

 

 

varda's picture
varda

This sudden change in texture I've seen each time I bake with a high percentage of durum flour.    It may just be a function of me not developing the gluten enough (re Khalid's comment below.)   This is not the sort of dough you can walk away from - it needs careful watching.   Scary?   Yes indeed.   But I feel like I've learned a lot during this little project.   I will stop being afraid of whole grain starters.    It seems the key is ripening them when you can see them, as opposed to leaving them on the counter overnight and hoping for the best.   -Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Nice Boule Varda.! It looks really good. I think that you should develop your gluten more by increasing the intensity of the mixing. Wholegrain flours such as Atta need more water, and more mixing time to fully develop the gluten structure. Once you have the dough mixed well, you can proceed with Stretch and fold. that is my humble advice, as i've worked with atta several times, and i know how to handle it.

With Atta you should be careful with handling the dough, as it is fragile, like Syd said. Try this with your future Atta bakes, and show us the results.

 

varda's picture
varda

Hi Khalid.   You are probably right.   After destroying Atta doughs through regular wheat techniques, I stepped backwards, but perhaps too much.   I tried not to do a lot of extension since stretching seemed to do too much tearing.   But perhaps you are right that by more aggressive mixing early on I could have strengthened enough to avoid tearing.   It's not a simple equation - I think it requires developing experience.   Have you baked with 100% Atta?   Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

show how fragile this flour is. You achieved a remarkable loaf, even more so considering the nature of the flour!

varda's picture
varda

Now I think I'll go back to the light side.   Perhaps even try that water roux technique that you wrote about.  -Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

I did bake alot with Atta, back when i started baking 2.5 years ago. Though not as dark as your flour, apparently, it is a wholegrain flour afterall. Wholegrain flours, except Durum (The real Durum, not the Indian Variety), require intensive mixing early on.

 

varda's picture
varda

Khalid,   the Atta that I am using is imported whole durum from Canada.   So I don't know if that's what you meant by Indian variety or not.   You mentioned in another post that Atta is traditionally stoneground which damages the starch and creates a sweeter flavor.   Could be true for the Golden Temple brand that I'm using since it is quite sweet but it nowhere says stoneground on the label.  I would try to ask the miller, but I doubt that would be possible in this case, since we're probably talking about a multinational corporation.  -Varda

jcking's picture
jcking

Varda,

Good job! I use a longer machine mix (15-20 mins) with a few rests in between, yet at a slow speed. 5 to 6 S&F and 66% hydration seems to work for me. Nice write-up, nice to see the percentages. I'm nominating you for Number One "Walkin' Talkin" Bread Machine.

Jim

varda's picture
varda

Hi Jim,  That is very interesting what you are saying about mixing long but slow.   It is actually what Franko mentioned quoting Michel Suas.   I guess I am a slow learner.   I will back away from durum for awhile since I have been baking so much of it.   Hopefully I'll be able to find a more refined version at some point, which I am thinking will make a better product at these high percentages.   I don't bake 100% whole rye, nor 100% whole wheat - I prefer mixing both of those with refined wheat flour - so I guess the same holds true for whole grain durum.    In any case, thanks for your comments.  -Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

If it is a Canadian Whole Durum, then that is an entirely different animal. Can't tell you how to handle it, as i haven't used it. However, All Atta flours share one thing: Finally Ground, and being very high extraction.

 

varda's picture
varda

commented on a long slow mix I decided to try that today.   So I stayed fairly consistent with the last bake, but added the long slow mix, upped hydration to 70%,  and also baked in the WFO next to the fire which basically incinerated the crust.   Here is resulting crumb - better texture than the last one but still room for improvement.   I think the best next step would be to find a more refined durum flour.  

 

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Varda,

I meant to comment on the previous bake but I had an idea another one was on the way soon, so held off. This has been a tough one to solve, and credit to you for pursuing it the way you have. These last two bakes of yours clearly show that a good bread or Attamura can be made from 100% Atta flour. It may very well be that you've reached the limitations of this flour as far as getting an even crumb, without the larger holes. My first thought on seeing this loaf and the previous was there was a fermentation/development issue going on, but you've worked with this dough so much now I have to think there must be other factors involved. That basically leaves the flour itself, and I wonder if it's a case of expecting more from the flour than it's capable of delivering. It's hard to say for sure given durum's temperamental nature, but it not for lack of diligence and thoughtful consideration on your part throughout this series of bakes.

I had a look on the Golden Temple site http://goldentemplefood.com/products/fine_durum_atta/ and there is a finely milled or silky textured durum flour they produce. It may be something you could order through the store you bought your Atta flour from or perhaps a local organic/health food store. It's a shame that xfancy or fancy grade mill of durum is so hard to come by and so pricey.

 A really interesting series of posts you've made on this project Varda. Thanks for sharing it and taking us along on the discovery with you.

Best wishes,

Franko

varda's picture
varda

but I had an idea another one was on the way soon, so held off

Now what could give you the idea that I might post again on this topic.   I just looked back over my old posts and realized that I have done 4 posts in a row.   I guess I have a tendency to overfocus.     

I will check into the golden temple fine durum you found.   Or maybe take a trip down to the North End in Boston and see what the Italian grocers have available.   But that's for another day.   For now, I just have to bake something else.

Thanks so much for your comments, and your support.

-Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

Khalid is right that atta flour is largely wholegrain, and finely ground.   The pure version would be ground from durum wheat, but since flour is produced by international milling companies buying wheat on a global scale, who really can say how much durum is used and where all the wheat is sourced from unless individual millers publish their full sources???

I love the bottom photos, the crum is quite obviously improved.   I'm guessing you are right, however..some of the "extra fancy durum flour" would improve the quality further still.

I've really enjoyed reading your posts on this

Best wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

Thanks so much for your comments.   The Golden Temple claims to be 100% whole durum.   Here is the label:

Note they have added "No Added Maida, Refined White Flour" to their label to reassure people that they are not adulterating the durum.  I guess that must be common enough that they have to say it. 

-Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hi, Varda!

I wonder if the culprit here is dough handling. I believe that Atta flour is intended for Chapati  / Roti Flat breads, rather than Hearth loaves that need prolonged levain fermentation. With slow lengthy fermentation, atta flour (which as mentioned earlier, has much more damaged starch percentage than your usual wholegrain flour, will breakdown easily, thereby degrading your final crumb structure. As pleasing, and sweet as the final dough may taste, you'll not be getting the sough t after crumb , nor the crust of the recipe. your best shot with Flat bread atta flours, is to combine it with Strong unmalted bread flours in order to balance out the percentage of damaged starch in your final dough. Doughs that contain a substantial percentage of damaged starch flour, will have a speedy fermentation due to all the free sugars left by the milling, and will be thirsty, but will release water at a later stage of fermentation, causing the loaf to be sticky.

 

varda's picture
varda

Khalid, You are spelling out in detail what I have been seeing in the kitchen. I think you are exactly right. Based on what I have tried so far, I believe you can make a really good hearth loaf with Atta up to around 60% of flour, and then it gets problematic.   The 60% Atta that I posted about earlier was a reasonably well behaved dough, an absolutely delicious bread, and what's more stayed fresh for days.   Higher than that better stick with Chapatti.  Thanks for your comments.  -Varda

freerk's picture
freerk

Congratulations on getting to the top of your Atta- mountain! I have been lurking around every post in the process.

As much as you are wondering about the "extra fancy durum", that is how much you got me wondering about whole atta durum now :-)

And, whenever I find it here (my eyes go twice their original size upon entering asian stores) I'll  know so much more about it that I ever would have without you painstakingly taking your formula to 100%!

And I'll stick to 60% tops :-)

Have a wonderful week, thanks for sharing your experience!

Freerk

varda's picture
varda

for your comments.    Good luck with Atta baking.  -Varda