The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Durum Atta Bread – Pharaoh’s Mastaba Style

dabrownman's picture

Sourdough Durum Atta Bread – Pharaoh’s Mastaba Style

Found some Canadian durum attta in the Indian aisle at the Lee Lee’s Chinese grocery- real globalization at work.  The brand was Golden Temple.  The ‘atta’ makes this flour different than regular durum or semolina since it still has the bran in it.



We love the way the yellow durum flour softly colors the inside of white breads and gives the outside a rich brown hue.   This was more of a basic white bread with just a hint of rye and WW in the starter, levain build and dough at a total of 10%.  The durum makes up 47% of this bread with AP flour comes in at 43%.  The hydration was 73%.

 For some reason, probably because I froze it the week before,  the 33% each AP, rye and WW starter that we keep 80 grams of in the fridge, was weaker than normal so it was slow to build strength over the normal 12 hour, 3 stage, levain build.   Usually it is ready to go in 8 hours in the summer heat but it took a full 12 hours to double this time.  Maybe it didn’t like the white flour diet it hardly ever sees too.

Preheating and Sylvia’s steaming method went well but the dough stuck to the wooden articulating form and deflated as it released but it sprang back very nicely in the oven like a ciabatta.   I’m guessing poor forming and slashing caused the batard to split along the length of both of the long sides of the bottom - so the bloom at the slashes was pretty weak.


The crust browned nicely and came out of the oven slightly blistered and cracked.  The crust was very crispy when it came out of the heat and then softened as it cooled like a ciabatta. 

The crumb was a pale yellow shade due to the durum and it had some nice holes, was airy, soft and moist.

This is tangy SD bread that tastes good.  It will make some kind of fine sandwich for lunch.  Method and formula follow the pictures. 


This was a 2 day build where the levain was built and the flours autolysed with the salt  in the fridge for 10 hours waiting for the 12 hour levain build to finish .  At the 10 hour mark the autolyse was removed from the fridge so it could come to room temperature over the next 2 hours.

When the levain was ready it was mixed with the autolyse by hand with a spoon, kneaded on a floured surface for 1 minute.  The dough was then placed in a covered oiled bowl to rest for 15 minutes.  

5 S&F’s  were done on an oiled work surface every 15 minutes and the dough allowed to rest in the covered oiled bowl between each one.  The dough was then allowed to ferment and develop for 1 ½ hours on the counter before being refrigerated overnight.

The dough was removed from the fridge in the morning and allowed to come to room temperature for 1 ½ hours.    It was then pre-shaped into a batard and allowed to rest for 10 minutes before final shaping.  The batard was placed into a rice floured wooden contraption and allowed to double in a plastic trash sack until it passed the poke test – about 3 hours – about an hour longer than normal due to the levain not being as active as normal.

The batard was removed from the wooden contraption by folding it flat and upturning the batard on to parchment and a peel.  We liked the Egyptian stepped mastaba shape (it almost nearly left) on the bread so much, we will call this forming articulating appliance  the ‘Pharaoh’s Mastaba.’

Sylvia’s steaming method was used in the 500 F mini oven using a 1 cup Pyrex measure, half full of water, with a face towel.  This apparatus was micro waved for 1 ½ minutes to get the water boiling before putting it onto the cold broiler top as batard was load on it and placed with the steaming cup into the oven.

4 minutes into the bake the temperature was turned down to 450 F and steaming continued to the 12 minute mark when the steam and parchment was removed and the temperature tuned down to 400 F convection this time.  The batard was rotated 180 degrees ever 5 minutes until the batard was done, 205 F inside temperature  – about 20 more minutes – 32 minutes total.

 The batard was left in the mini oven for 10 minutes with the oven turned off and door ajar to further crisp the skin before removing it to a cooling rack.

Sourdough Durum Atta Bread      
SD LevainBuild 1Build 2 Build 3Total%
SD Starter1000102.00%
Durum Atta030306015.58%
Total Starter501008023059.74%
Levain % of Total26.38%    
Dough Flour %   
Durum Atta17545.45%   
Potato Flakes102.60%   
Dough Flour385100.00%   
Dough Hydration64.94%    
Total Flour500    
Total Water365    
T. Dough Hydration73.00%    
Whole Grain %4.00%    
Hydration w/ Adds73.00%    
Total Unbaked Weight872    
Baked Weight 77388.65%   


isand66's picture

I love your crumb!  What a great looking open and moist crumb.  It is a shame you had a "wardrobe" malfunction with the basket.  By the way that is some funkadelic basket!  Where ever did you find that contraption?? I want one!

Anyway....very impressive bake!  Looks like it would make some great grilled bread with some fresh Moz and olive oil and maybe some roasted red peppers....I had some with my dinner tonight.


dabrownman's picture

a picture of the 'Pharaoh's Mastaba ' a few months ago but never got around to using it for a bread form.  Hanseata, when she saw it,  said a guy makes them up in Maine and sells them at a market she frequents.  It was another Goodwill find.    The shaping was improper for a batard since I messed it up the first time and didn't allow it to rest before doing it again.  If you look at the picture with the bread in the mastaba, you can see where it would eventually split.  Poor seam sealing and slashing at work too.    I though I had really ruined it when it stuck to the form but it really did spring in the mini oven, due to Sylvia's steaming method, and the crumb was OK in the end.  When you don't have SD white bread for a while  - it is pretty tt.  Had it with beef stew last night to sop up the thick gravy.    Oddly, was going to grill it with Mojo de Ajo but didn't get around to it.   IT would be very good grilled.

Thanks for your comments Ian.

SylviaH's picture

shot...looks just delicious!  Love the fold up thingie too :)  


dabrownman's picture

your steaming method really worked well in the mini oven.  The spring was impressive, at least 100% and the open durum crumb was the best part - besides the Pharoh's Mastaba articulating thingamajig.  The batard turned out to be the perfect size for the mni oven too! Your right this is pretty tasty bread.  Thanks.

mwilson's picture

Really Nice crumb! My main focus now is to achieve a more open crumb like yours. I'm too much of a kneading junkie.

Think I'm gonna try a durum loaf next... You've inspired me...


dabrownman's picture

Michael, you will not have any problem finding the holes you seek.   You are right, a light hand with less kneading, less whole grains (zero is best) and and an active starter is all you need.  I wasn't really going for holes with all the atta in the durum, but wanted the yellow color, good flavor and to see what the form would really do.  The atta did help with the taste and I do prefer a more hearty bread.

Can't wait to make one of your panettones for the holidays and I am still amazed at the lift and open crumb your 100% spelt bread.  

Mebake's picture

Nice brotform, DA! I've seen those baskets here too. Never thought of using them as bread molds. Like you, i once had my eyes pealed for bread baskets, until i ordered some rattan ones online.

Beautiful color and structure of your durum loaves, DA! So, your loaf is plenty healthy afterall, given that the durum is almost wholegrain. Lovely crumb!!


dabrownman's picture

always has her eye out for anything she can proof bread in that would be different, odd or just plain crazy - and she is a determined German.   I'm just too cheap to spend the big bucks on real brotforms and figure we  can get a dozen of odd ones to play with for the price of one.   Then the bread doesn't look the same all the time - just odd and sometimes even weird like the Chacon can be on occasion.

You are right, the atta is a real plus for the heartiness, wholesomeness and taste of this bread -  this semolina also makes great rotis and other Indian flat breads too.

Thanks for your comments Khalid