The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Use of semolina flour (coarse) vs durum (rimacinata, very fine)

katyajini's picture
katyajini

Use of semolina flour (coarse) vs durum (rimacinata, very fine)

Most recipes that require semolina instruct to use the fine durum flour, and not the coarser semolina flour such as sold by Bob's.  They say the recipe won't work. Even pasta recipes recommend the durum flour.

Then what does one use the coarser semolina flour {Bob's) for? Just to sprinkle, so dough won't stick?

What else can I use it for? Can I add in small bit to bread like one adds cornmeal for flavor and texture? What else?

 

Thank you!

plevee's picture
plevee

BRM semolina works just fine to make bread. Give it a easonable autolyse to hydrate.

 

plevee's picture
plevee

 

 

plevee's picture
plevee

BRM semolina works just fine to make bread - I  used it last week 50;50 with other flours to make a semolina sesame load. Give it a reasonable autolyse to hydrate.

 

emmsf's picture
emmsf

 The course ground Durum semolina works beautifully in bread. In fact, there are recipes on this site that specifically request coarse ground. Good luck!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Then it's ok to substitute for durum flour. It's the next best thing if you can't get hold of Rimacinata. You'll have to lower the hydration though as the coarser flour won't absorb as much water. I'd say by about 5%. If the recipe doesn't call for it I'd add in an autolyse (minus the starter) to help it absorb the water. 30 min - 1 hr should be fine. I wouldn't use coarse semolina.

Other uses for semolina is dusting, porridge and puddings. 

1 part semolina to 5 parts milk (by weight). On a low flame slowly add the semolina all the while stirring. Making sure it doesn't clump. Continue stirring till the desired texture is formed. Transfer to a bowl and top with what ever you like for a semolina porridge. I like to sprinkle powdered chocolate over it. Childhood memories. 

There's coarse semolina, fine semolina (less coarse than coarse semolina but not as fine as durum flour) and then there's remilled semolina aka durum flour aka Semola Rimacinata. 

I see many use "coarse" semolina but I think they mean fine semolina. Which is more coarse than Rimacinata. I suppose if they do mean coarse semolina but then only use a percentage mixed with bread flour then it might work but I've never tried it. I've used fine semolina which works really well but the best is definitely Rimacinata in bread. 

katyajini's picture
katyajini

Thank you for all this input my friends!  I am heartened because though I have rimacinata it is a little pricey...so for many occasions its worth while trying out BRM semolina flour.  Thank you so much.

katyajini's picture
katyajini

Just a thought...I seem to remember,  maybe I am wrong, that you can over-knead dough made from coarse semolina and break down the gluten.  Is there any truth to that?  Or if you use it with 50-70% white flour that's not going to be problem?  Thanks!

Lechem's picture
Lechem

Semolina is coarse durum flour. Grit like.

But then there is fine semolina and coarse semolina.

I think you're using the term "coarse semolina" for any semolina.

The reason why semolina is not as suited as durum flour is because of its grit like texture it can cut through the gluten strands. However fine semolina, although more coarse than durum flour, is a good substitute. Coarse semolina, however, is not a good substitute.

If you're using 100% fine semolina (sometimes this isn't clearly identified on the packet as companies often just use the term "semolina") for a durum flour recipe then dropping the hydration a bit will help as the bigger particles won't absorb as much water and an autolyse will soften it to a more manageable dough. You don't have to worry too much about over kneading anymore so than another flour. It should behave well and once you've gotten a smooth silky dough it's done. Even more so if you are only using it as a proportion of the dough where you might not even have to change the hydration much or at all depending on what percentage.

EDIT:

I've just had a look at bob's red mill semolina. Here are my thoughts...

If you are following a recipe for 100% semola rimacinata (durum flour) then use bob's red mill semolina but drop the hydration by 5% or keep 5% water back and add it later if you think it needs it. If the recipe does not include an autolyse I'd add one in for 30 min - 1hr without starter or salt.

If you are following a recipe that calls for semolina then fine to use bob's red mill semolina.

If you're following a recipe that calls for a mix of bread flour and durum flour then you can probably get away with a straight swap.

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

when using a machine.  It is far less likely to happen if you are hand-kneading, since most of us don't have the hand strength or stamina to knead it that hard for that long!

My understanding is that the bigger issue with coarse grinds is the same as the issue with whole grains which include the bran:  the large pieces and sharper edges can actually end up cutting the gluten strands during the process of kneading, and so end up giving you a weaker overall gluten structure.

I use a lot of whole grains (home-milled and not sifted / extracted, so include all of the bran), and sometimes some very coarsely milled cornmeal or semolina.  My method is to use a long autolyse of the whole grain flours, use a fairly low percentage of prefermented flour so I get a longer wet-time, knead by hand only to early gluten development, and to let time and gentle stretch-and-folds develop the gluten and structure without me messing it up.  I really enjoy what a porridge or long-term soaker adds to the texture of a bread, so for coarsely milled cornmeal or semolina I will most often cook or soak them separately to soften the grains and make them less able to damage the gluten, and then add them in to the dough in the second set of post-kneading stretch-and-folds.  They could just as well be added during the autolyse, to even further soften the grains, but I kind of enjoy that it doesn't become as well incorporated in to the dough when added later, and so adds a bit of textural variety in the final bread.

I hope that answers what you were asking!

katyajini's picture
katyajini

IceDemeter, you most certainly answered my question.  There were other questions playing around in my head regarding semolina, that I hadn't asked, didn't know how to ask, you answered all of those.  Thank you!

I was actually referring to the fine semolina that is the BRM product, not the coarse or superfine (both of the last two I have come upon and want to incorporate in my cooking/baking) and you have addressed all of these.

It is interesting to me, now that I am getting to know more about it, that what is bemoaned as a problem in many places about using somewhat coarse whole grains is just about the physical structure of the pieces and is solved by soaking/autolysis.  It is not a biochemical property that is exuded and chemically destroys the gluten.  Although I imagine that can happen in some cases.  I am a complete convert to autolysis, I have seen the magic happen.

You brought up something else intriguing. You fold in porridge into last stages of making dough?  You get streaks of (unsalted/unsweetened) porridge in the finished bread? How does that work? Like streaks of chocolate chunks that have melted and then set? Is it soft around the porridge or things kind of set and firm up during fermentation? This is fascinating. I really want to try it.  This is synchronicity happening. I have America's Test Kitchen Bread Illustrated that I got from the library and I was flipping through it last night and saw a oatmeal raisin bread and a polenta bread both of which use porridge. But they add it at the end during mixing with a mixer.  "Add the polenta (porridge) 1 tbs at a time mixing on low until mostly incorporate, about 1 min". Something like what you are saying.

When I make porridge with semolina what kind of ratio with water should I use to cook it for folding into later stages of dough? (total novice here!) And about how much porridge should I fold in to start?  And what kind of hydration is the main dough?

I first read of porridge bread in Laurel Roberson's book with oatmeal and cornmeal.  And the little I tried it, I liked it a lot. 

Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions and helping me like you are!

 

 

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

even though I'm still early on in the learning curve, too!

You do need to be a bit more careful with "wet time" (autolyse and fermentation) with whole grains, since they still have the full compliment of enzymes on them, which can cause the gluten to start to deteriorate faster than using sifted flours that don't include all of the bran or the germ.  This hasn't been anything to panic about in my experience - it's just one more reason to "watch the dough and not the clock".

As for using a porridge - well, I base my cooking liquid on the particular grain / mix of grains, and on practice.  I use the cooking method that I learned here from Isand66 (seriously - check out his blog posts for some amazing inspiration) of toasting the grains, then adding about 75% of the liquid and cooking until fully absorbed, and then adding the rest of the liquid and cooking until creamy.  I usually figure on a total of about 200% by weight (so - 100g of grains with 200g of liquid, which could be water or milk or cream or yogurt or a mix).  I keep a pre-measured amount of water handy to add in if the 200% doesn't seem like enough for the consistency that I want, or I drain some off while it's cooling if I got too carried away.  It most often seems to come out with a cooked weight of about 220-250% of the original grain weight.  I try to aim for the baker's percentage recommendation of a "zero impact" on overall dough hydration from the porridge, but aren't always successful!

I usually figure on no more than 30% (baker's percentage) of non-gluten grains or porridge grains in a loaf, since that seems to be the highest that I feel comfortable working with (how's that for a highly technical reason?!).  Since I'm adding it in with the stretch-and-folds, I don't really end up with "streaks" in the crumb, but more like small chunks that are a noticeably different texture --- a bit more dense, a bit more chewy, and with the stronger flavour of the added grain.  The overall crumb is always more moist than a straight dough.

Oh - and also check out the blogs by Danni3ll3 for her use of scalds / soakers instead of cooking the porridge. She's got some great stuff that I've really enjoyed.

Honestly, if you prefer an airy open crumb (more like a ciabatta or the Tartine style), then porridge breads might be disappointing for you.  They add density and moisture to the crumb, so you end up with something closer to a sandwich bread (although with more "chew" and toothiness).  This is what I prefer (since I'm using the bread most often for sandwiches), but I don't want you to be surprised!

The main thing is to play with things to figure out what you most enjoy, and then head in that direction... and keep baking happy!

katyajini's picture
katyajini

Thank you IceDemeter, yet again your write up is thorough and immensely helpful. I do like porridge breads and (well)soaked cereal breads.  But as you say, from what I can remember off the top of my head I too have never gone over 30%, probably less. These breads are mighty tasty, the few that I have made so far. 

Your tip on how to figure for the porridge part is very helpful....and I dont have to totally start from zero, with your guidance. There is a lot to experiment with!  I am looking at those blogs too.

You might understand this, some people in my home like soft, smooshy bread, some want chewy....some leave behind all the crust, some can't handle it without a mean crust and so it goes.  Thankfully, by now they all know good flavor.

Thank you so much.  It takes time to write fully like this.  I truly value this.