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Atta Durum Hearth Loaf

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varda's picture
varda

Atta Durum Hearth Loaf

 

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.  

Comments

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Varda, this bread has a very lovely regular crumb. Your tamed the beast much better than I did, evidently.

If  I read correctly this flour has bran in it, right? You could try to sift it to get a more open crumb, at least the largest bran speckles won't interfere (nor pierce) with gluten formation. You could also try another trick: a salted autolyse. Salt should oxidise the dough and strenghten the gluten.

Nice baking, as usual!

varda's picture
varda

I just looked back at your post - should have mentioned it earlier.   It seems we are taking radically different approaches to the durum beast.   You have very high hydration, I have low.   You use a tiny fraction of the starter I am using, and you make up for it with a very long fermentation period.   I guess I got so burned with enzymatic dough breakdown when I was using the whole durum that I backed way off on hydration and on fermentation time.    As a result our breads are quite different.   That is aside from the fact that we are using different durum flour.  (Different flour makes  different bread.)    I would not say that I had better results.   You have a nice open crumb and no tunnels from what I can see.    I had a very narrow focus with my latest attempt.   Could I bake a bread with 100% Atta flour with no tunnels and without enzymatic collapse.   For that I was willing to sacrifice other things like the lovely open crumb that you achieved.   The other side of this, and which I completely forgot to mention in my post, is that durum bread can be really delicious.   I found the 100% whole durum loaves I made too sweet and almost cloying (this could have had to do with the fact that the loaves had horrible dough development) but this version of Atta that I am baking with now makes a very tasty loaf.  My reading of the label for this bag of flour is that they completely refined the durum (remove all bran) and then added back in wheat bran.   I don't know why.   I could remove it to get a more open crumb, or I could add more water.    I have never tried salt in the autolyse.   Scary!  Thanks so much for your comments.  -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,

There is a lot of important work within your text, and I agree with Nico that you have "tamed the beast", and your loaf looks really attractive and tasty.

I wonder if Lesson 45 may be of interest to you?   From your description, it seems the Golden Temple flour is ground very finely.   This is good from a water absorption point of view, and for a finer texture in the finished bread.   However, overly fine milling will result in too much starch damage.   This has the effect of exposing the amylolitic enzymes too quickly when the flour is hydrated to form the dough.   I don't need to go further regarding the resulting overly-rapid ferment and the consequences that will have....just another consideration to bring into an even more successful durum formula perhaps?

Very best wishes

Andy

varda's picture
varda

Hi Andy,   Your point is well taken.   I am guessing that the reason this flour has added wheat bran is because they strip out all the durum bran, grind the heck out of it and then reconstitute.   Something to consider when durum shopping.   Thanks for your comments.   I'm always glad to hear what you have to say.   -Varda

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I remember reading somewhere that durum bran has something in it that doesn't make it appropriate for baking. Maybe it's too tough and woody? Another example is barley bran: it's horribly woody and doesn't soften even after many hours of soaking... or at least mine didn't.

I guess that the miller preferred to provide a flour more easily to handle.

varda's picture
varda

Maybe that is why the whole durum was so hard to work with at high percentages. 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The thourough nature of your thought process is impressive Varda. I see you are trying to understand "the beast". Nico and Andy both made some good comments which are also helpful. It is hard to be patient and make only one change at a time so to understand the effect of that one change. You do have a lot of balls in the air at once.

I have been using a salted autolyse in my high percent rye breads. It does seem to control fermentation well. You might try that with your durum. Mini brought it up with her 100% rye mixes.

Great post Varda. Thanks for sharing your work. The bread looks delicious.

Eric

varda's picture
varda

Hi Eric,   I guess the reason to do a salted autolyse is to slow down the enzymatic action, whereas the reason not to do it is that the salt inhibits fermentation.   Which for rye makes sense, for durum I guess I'd have to try it to see.   Thanks so much for your comments.   -Varda

Franko's picture
Franko

Congratulations Varda on your success with the Attamura!

I really admire your persistence in pursuit of this loaf, and it's paid off admirably with this bake of it. The crumb is very uniform and even, evidence of how much care you took throughout your process. Using a lively and acidic levain in this bread I think was one of the keys to your success, the acidity playing as important a role as the activity level of the levain. Without the gluten strengthening properties of the acidic starter/levain, durum flour just doesn't develop well enough to capture sufficient C02 to get a good volume loaf, no matter how lively the levain is. I know from my own experiments with 100% durum doughs that once I accepted that fact as a crucial component of the mix, the results took a dramatic turn for the better. It seems that you, Nico and I have all shared this realization in similar ways to one extent or another in getting a handle on "the beast" of durum flour. Nice baking and writeup Varda!

Best Wishes,

Franko

varda's picture
varda

I didn't call this Attamura because I didn't want to do the cap.   I forgot to mention this in my write-up, but I wanted to do a tighter shaping than pressing out and folding over.    I don't know if it helped or not, but it seemed to me that my tunnels in previous attempts were right along the line of the fold.   I also didn't want to take a chance on oven open (or flame in) and no steam.   My family is patient but I really wanted to come up with something they could eat.    I appreciate your comments about starter acidity.  I'm sure I have read that before but it's one thing to read, and another thing to understand.   Thanks so much for your comments.   You are very gracious about my muddled attempts to follow in your wake.  -Varda

Franko's picture
Franko

Congratulations Varda on your success with the Attamura!

I really admire your persistence in pursuit of this loaf, and it's paid off admirably with this bake of it. The crumb is very uniform and even, evidence of how much care you took throughout your process. Using a lively and acidic levain in this bread I think was one of the keys to your success, the acidity playing as important a role as the activity level of the levain. Without the gluten strengthening properties of the acidic starter/levain, durum flour just doesn't develop well enough to capture sufficient C02 to get a good volume loaf, no matter how lively the levain is. I know from my own experiments with 100% durum doughs that once I accepted that fact as a crucial component of the mix, the results took a dramatic turn for the better. It seems that you, Nico and I have all shared this realization in similar ways to one extent or another in getting a handle on "the beast" of durum flour. Nice baking and writeup Varda!

Best Wishes,

Franko

jcking's picture
jcking

Nice bake: thanks for sharing! Yes I agree the hand mixing was a good move. Also I'm seeing that durum has many similarities to whole wheat and rye.

There's a lot of info about enzymes in wheat flour yet Durum, not so much. I'm wondering if the protease levels are the same?

Waltham, MA? My daughter lives in Dedham, please wave to her for me :-)

Jim

varda's picture
varda

Jim, The other thing I did in this bake is keep hydration really low.   I think that made a big difference and kept the enzymes from getting overactive.   But who knows.   I wouldn't bother if it didn't taste so good.   Thanks for your comments.   Sure I'll wave to your daughter or more likely honk at her in traffic :-) (have you visited - if so you know what I'm talking about.)  -Varda

jcking's picture
jcking

Yes I've visited a few times. Down in Atlanta we have our own crazy traffic and drivers who think they're in a NASCAR race :-) - Jim

lumos's picture
lumos

Very interesting post. Really fascinating to read your journey of 'taming Atta beast'  and turning it into tasty bread.  Thanks you for sharing. Look forward to reading your lesson 45....and a lot more. :)

lumos

 

ETA:  btw, I had a look at Golden Temple's website to learn about their flours (in a hope I can get an equivalent from UK based Indian food suppliers), and found this.  Have you seen it already? Apparently you can EVEN make Indian breads with your atta flour, too! :p  :p

varda's picture
varda

Lumos, Thanks for the link.   This bake is with the yellow bag - #1 Fine Durum Atta Flour.   The bakes I posted about earlier were with the Durum Whole Wheat Atta Flour.   Looking at the write-ups I may have misinterpreted the label on the Fine Durum.   It lists durum flour and wheat bran.   I thought the wheat bran was not from durum, but the write-ups make it sound like it is.   Make Indian breads?   Surely you jest.   Actually between my two bags of flour I probably have 25 pounds of Atta left, so I better get cracking on those chapattis.  Thanks for your comments.  -Varda