The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Basmati-Semolina Bread's picture

Basmati-Semolina Bread

I'd been thinking that the sweet fragrance of basmati rice surely earns it some upward mobility out of its lowly caste, buried under the curry, and up into the brahmin bread basket.  A golden crumb seemed appropriate to its elevated status, so semolina was recruited.  I kept the durum to bog-standard Bob's Red Mill Fine Semolina, so as not to put the formula as out of reach as proper fine durum is (i.e., mailorder only).  Golden Temple Atta Durum would probably have been more appropriate (see below) and somewhat more accessible than the pukka mailorder product, but a soaker of BRM fine worked well.  I'm getting in the habit of adding 3% toasted wheat germ to mostly-whiteflour breads, following David Snyder's report on the SFBI miche.  So in that went.  Finally, developing the formula coincided with the recent spike in RYW chatter @TFL and the concomitant successional climax of my little mason jar crabapple/PinkLady/raisin/honey ecosystem, so RYW was fated to be the levain.  The results were surprisingly satisfying.



1. Day before baking,

  • In morning, feed RYW with equal weight of Rubaud flour mix (100% hydration: 30 g RYW + 30 g flour).  Incubate at 77˚F until evening, then make up levain and incubate that overnight (9h) at 77˚F.
  • Bring 3 c unsalted water to boil.  Stir in 2 c white basmati rice (I used Lundberg Organic).  Return to boil and reduce flame to lowest setting.  Cover and cook for 20'.  White basmati rice weighs 142 g/c.  2 c dry came to 909 g cooked = 284 g rice + 625 g water; therefore each g of dry rice contributes ~2.2 g water when cooked.  This is more rice than needed.  Adjust accordingly if you don't want to have leftover rice.
  • In evening: Mix semolina soaker and leave at 77˚F (or whatever room temp is) overnight.                                         

2. Baking day, reduce cooked rice to a grainless mush via food processor and/or Foley food mill (I used the latter -- worked well).  Weigh out 420 g of mush.

3. Combine levain and all final dough ingredients (bread flour was KA Organic) except salt into shaggy mass. Adjust hydration if necessary.  Autolyse 30 min.

4. Add salt and french fold 5' / rest 5'/ french fold 5'.  Transfer to fermentation vessel (I use plastic boxes).

5. Bulk ferment 2.25 h with stretch and folds (in box) at 30', 60' and 100'.

6. Bench rest 25'.

7. Shape into a miche or 2 boules/batards.  Proof in rice+wheat floured banneton(s) for 2 h at 77˚F.

8. Bake on preheated stone in 500˚F oven turned down to 450˚F at start, for 20' with steam.  Remove steam apparatus, reduce oven temperature to 440˚F, and bake for an additional 20' with convection.    

9. Turn off oven, open door slightly, leave loaf on stone for 10'.

10. Remove and cool on rack.  Internal loaf temperature 210˚F.  Wait until fully cooled (preferably 24h) to slice.

Baking definitely diminishes the basmati flavor and fragrance.  Whereas the air was intoxicatingly perfumed with every slap of the french folding, in the finished loaf its presence is more evenly balanced with the wheat flavors.  Perhaps those more learned in the arts of gluten-free baking have tricks that would allow increasing the rice percentage in the formula.  The crust is sweet and chewy.  The crumb is angelfood-cakey soft and creamy yellow-white, slightly sticky on the bread knife but far less so 24h out of the oven than when just cooled.  RYW left no SD tang whatsoever, as advertised.  Toasts up exquisitely, best with butter.  The better the butter the better.  Fairly irresistible, truth be told.  I'll definitely be baking this again.  Maybe next week :-)

One feature of RYW that I'd failed to grok from posts by akiko, dabrownman et al. is the explosive leavening power of these potions.  From pilot builds beforehand, I knew my little homebrew could double a 100% hydration Rubaud flour mix in 6 hrs at 77˚F.  But that didn't prepare me for its Usain Boltian performance in a dough.  This juice could raise the dead.  What's up with that?  Just different bugs?  High titers?  Epigenetic adaptation to anaerobic conditions?  My baking routine this summer has been to start a SD batch and, while its fermentation proceeds at its normal stately pace, I can mix, ferment and bake a CY'd preparation (lately Reinhart's 100% WW sandwich loaf).  But bloody hell.  The CY loaf could hardly play through this time with the RYW dough hollering Fore! from the banneton.  It was nip and tuck, with the WW getting a bit overproofed (bogie?) while the RYW loaf holed out.

Finally, this bake and its score honors the victims of the tragedy in Oak Creek, WI.

Voila.  Blogo ergo sum.

Happy baking y'all,



Mebake's picture

Beautiful Tom! looks truly exquisite. A good use of Basmati rise.

Scoring, crust color, crumb, all look absolutely lovely. Yeast water is gaining popularity on this forum.

Khalid's picture

I'm certainly flattered by "exquisite", esp. coming from you.  Thanks. 

Yes, yeast water seems to be having its 15 minutes of fame this summer.  It's interesting stuff with a lot of possibilities.  I have to say that my maiden voyage with it here did not reveal any particular flavor contribution, certainly nothing like old fashioned SD starters.  But I'll have to try it other 'backgrounds' to know for sure. 




varda's picture

People are getting very creative on this forum.   It makes my head spin.   Nice work!  -Varda's picture

I was as surprised as anyone at how nice this experiment turned out.  I'm still pretty timid about conjuring up formulae from scratch, having crashed and burned on that route too many times early on when I thought I understood the principles well enough to let go of the reins.  Not so simple, this bread baking.  But this one was a bit of a milestone.  As one of my mentors once said, "Any positive result is a big deal."

"Creative" maybe, but a pretty low altitude flight of fancy compared to the stratospheric launches posted lately by Ian and dabrownman.  Talk about head spinning!  Those flights have been an inspiration - no doubt about it.

Thanks again,




isand66's picture

Beautiful looking loaf, crust, crumb and scoring.

Love the use of the basmati rice which seems to have made your final product nice and light.

Ian's picture

A compliment from TFL's resident Salvador Dali of Formula Creativity.  What can I say, but thank you!  And I did just reply to Varda that your (and dabrownman's) creative displays this summer certainly emboldened me to go for it with respect to this basmati idea. 

So you think it was the rice more than the semolina responsible for the lighter-than-air crumb?  I'd never baked with either (beyond sprinkling the latter on the peel).  Really a very indulgent loaf, this, esp. w/butter.  Also makes me wonder what other gluten-challenged ingredients are worth exploring, e.g., polenta.  As you've demonstrated on a regular basis here, there's no end to the possibilities!




isand66's picture

I shall have to work on my mustache!

I would say the rice probably had more to do with the lightness of your loaf than the Durum.  I use Durum flour all the time and love the  flavor and texture but I don't think it necessarily makes the loaf lighter.  Polenta is on my list to try....I bought some just before I left for my trip and saw someone else post an interesting recipe a few weeks ago that I want to use for inspiration.

Keep are bound to have more successes than failures I'm sure!


dabrownman's picture

visiting  the daughter at the U of A today and were nicely taken back by your bread when we got home.  I like this bread very much.  We have been baking a little bit with semolina lately but not with basmati - you've really gone on us with that :-)  What a nice combination.  The scoring, crust and crumb were just perfecto!  Can you taste the basmati?  It is such flavorful rice on its own.  I'm glad you've taken up YW and giving it a go.  Ian got me using some wheat germ but will now will have to toast it.  Nothing like another step in the process :-)  It is a flavor booster for white breads.

We started out using YW to replace commercial yeast in recipes that had it.  Then the moist open irregular crumb was too much to ignore.  YW can be explosive in the oven too.  Some Japanese white breads have amazing spring and double in the oven sometimes.  Really amazing on the raising of any dough - in or out of the oven.   I like YW best when used as a combo starter with SD to get the best of both worlds being a SD addict.   I haven't tried it on 100% rye - but will someday on Varda's Chocolate Rye.  We think it will really open up the crumb in heavy breads, Varda's isn't by the way,  and make them even more moist and lighten the load so to speak.  No rye bricks are possible with YW.

Very Nice Baking Tom!'s picture

I was hoping you'd comment, esp as you (and Ian) share inspiration honors for this effort.

Basmati taste: Barely perceptible -- to the point that in some bites I'm wondering whether I'm perceiving it only because I know it's there.  A lot of basmati's gustatory punch is in its fragrance, not its taste on the tongue.  Remember, this rice was cooked twice: boiled on the stove then again subjected to ~450˚F for 40 min in the oven.  Those volatiles I was enjoying during the french folds probably largely blew away during baking.  A bit disappointing.  Solutions?  I've thought about this a lot...

  • Obviously, raise the rice percentage in the forumula.  Will do that next time for sure.
  • Bake under cloche/DO to trap more of those volatiles?
  • Bump up the salt in the formula.  All rice benefits from salt and that might bring out more basmati flavor (and slow down YW's runaway fermentation :-)
  • Use uncooked rice:  I tried soaking some rice in room temp and boiling water -- no difference.  Both soften the grains enough to split them with a fingernail, but not crush them between fingers.  So food-processed soaked rice might work, going straight into the dough.
  • Mill the rice into flour:  my favorite idea.  I don't have a mill (you do!).  I trolled the local exotic food emporia for basmati flour but only found generic "rice flour".
  • Sprout brown rice and food process that (a la abreaducation).  I sprouted some.  Interesting result: brown basmati sprouts anorexic little radicles (roots) just fine, but the grains remain pretty hard and starchy (as above for soaked white basmati), not like sprouted wheat, the endosperm of which becomes downright creamy when sprouted.

Potency of YW:  Amazing stuff.  Glad it's legal :-).  That was indeed a revelation and I have you guys to thank for that idea.  I'm anxious to try it in my 100% WW bread.  It hadn't occurred to me that the extraodinarily cakey, indulgent crumb of this loaf might be majorly attributable to YW's power compensating for the reduced gluten in the rice+semolina portion of the dough.  Aha!  So you and Ian can get away with incorporating your rainbow of glutenless additions to your concoctions partially because YW is so good at pumping CO2?  Not unreasonable.  Emboldens me to raise the rice% and see what happens.  And mixing it with SD, now there's a capital suggestion, although I'm surprised the YW community doesn't  just overrun their SD bedfellows and leave the latter starving.  Guess not.  Gotta explore that YW-SD space for sure.  Might bring any added basmati flavor to its knees though.

So many variations and so little time.  Busy now cobbling a proofing enclosure, as the break (finally!) in the two-month 90-100˚F heat wave here is reminding me we are now sliding downslope from those handy summer 78-80˚F household temps.

Chocolate rye?  Oh man, what's next?  Guacomole bread? :-)



dabrownman's picture

don't have a grain mill but do grind berries into flour using a 15 year old Krups coffee mill that cost $10 new..  Works great.  You really have to go to varda's blog and see her chocolate rye that doesn't have any chocolate in it, but sure looks like it does.  She found some chocolate malt at a brew supply house and used that to get that great chocolate look.  It's the nicest looking rye bread of all time.

You don't want to use uncooked rice unless you really like dental bills.   To keep the YW  beasts from eating the SD weaklings, I build two levains and mix then together when finally mixing the dough.  Some SD tang does manage to come through that way but not like if was used alone.

I figure anything in the grocery aisle is fair game for incorporating into bread.  Ian's list is longer and may include auto parts stores, among others, by now :-).  I used to kid him that he could make a decent bread out of possum pelt and armadillo nectar.  I'm thinking you could too!'s picture

Ian's list is longer and may include auto parts stores, among others, by now :-). 

Talk about lol!  dbm, that's the funniest line I've read -- by far -- on TFL.  A hoot, whereas "...may include Petsmart" might have elicited just a (worried) chuckle.

Thanks for that!



mwilson's picture

Hi Tom.

A really inventive bread you've made here. The crust reminds me of dutch crunch topping. It looks as if the bread has a degree of sweetness about it...

I really like the slashes you made, very artful!

I may just give this a go at some point...

Thanks for sharing,

Michael's picture

If pixels had flavor...

You're right, it does look sweet.  But not so.  More salt than sweet. 

By all means, go for it.  Easier than your hour-long 100% hydration spelt knead to be sure :-).  I have to admit, I've wondered ever since I read that post of yours -- was it worth it?  Did the taste & texture reward such exhausting dough development?  I hope so!




mwilson's picture

Hi Tom,

Glad to know that you've been following my work. That Spelt loaf I made was more of a technical exercise than anything else. It was also a way to challenge others - I'm rather competitive!

For me I'm always experimenting in a technical sense. Once that aspect is mastered, I will then focus on more rewarding qualities like, flavour...

I'm still waiting for someone to take me up on the 100% hydration, white spelt loaf challenge... No takers, it seems! :)



AnnaInMD's picture

Two of my favorite ingredients - rice and semolina :)