The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can you turn semolina into durum flour?

thrstyunderwater's picture

Can you turn semolina into durum flour?

Like most people I can't find durum flour around where I live.  I'm trying to make a breadstick type item and the recipe calles for durum flour.  Can I take semolina and put it in a food process and/or blender for a few minutes until it's fine like durum?

sheffield's picture
sheffield (not verified)

Have to read the article but it states that you can make durum from semolina in a food processor.

Hamilton's picture

Hi folks. I live in South Africa at 6000 ft altitude (Hot, rainy summers. Cold, bone-dry winters) I've been baking conventionally leavened bread for 10 years and recently decided to venture into the arcane world of sourdough. After studying many postings on the subject, I have a lively 8 day old culture lurking in a glass jug on my kitchen cabinet. It comprises 25% rye, 25% stone-ground whole wheat and 50% AP white at about 90% hydration. It gets fed twice daily. An hour after feeding the batter trebles in volume. (It's in a graduated jug, so it's not my imagination) After a further 2 hours it slumps to double original volume, and remains there until stirred down for the next feed. It has a very sweet, penetrating smell. No sign of hooch or mold. My questions:

For how long should I keep developing this starter before baking with it?

What proportions of starter (thick batter) to flour should I use for bread?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Many of us are having success with the 1-2-3 method; 1 part starter, 2 parts water, and 3 parts flour  + 2% salt   all by weight.  Depending on the flours you combine you may need more or less.

Try it!

Eli's picture

I would give it a try now. The most you could lose would be a little flour and water but it sounds as if you have a viable starter. As for hydration I think it would depend on the formula or recipe you are using if I understand your second question correctly.

Good luck and let us know how your fare?



suave's picture

Typically in the US finding durum is not a big deal - Bob's Red Mill bags it, and many stores with bulk food sections have it.  I think last time I got it from Whole Foods for $1.50/lb.  But that's if you're in the US, of course.

Russ's picture

I haven't seen Bob's Red Mill durum in my area. I see their semolina in a number of stores, but never the regular durum flour. Haven't checked my local Whole Foods for durum, so can't say whether they carry it.

suave's picture

That's what you want.  It's a bit grainy but works beatifully in bread.  Durum flour sold in Whole Foods is milled to exactly the same consistency.

Russ's picture

I don't mean to be argumentative, and I try not to be a nitpicker, but this thread is about the fact that the two are different, and the question of whether one can be converted to another. So when you said that you've seen Bob's Red Mill durum flour, I figured you meant durum flour, not semolina. I am aware that BRM semolina makes good bread, I've made bread with it in the past. But I am also interested in trying durum flour.

Hamilton's picture

Thanks Eli and Minioven for the encouragement and advice. All the books and blogs tell me to discard half my starter before every feed. Understandable. The quantity could quickly take over your home otherwise. But, I'm of a generation conditioned to believe that the waste of food is a cardinal sin, so I've stored the discards in the back of the fridge for a week. Bound to be useful for something. Yesterday I took 150g of this pungent discard batter, added 300g of white bread flour, 100g water, 1 tspn salt, 1 Tbspn olive oil, and kneaded for 10 mins, making a ball about the size of a small grapefruit. It stood, covered, on a kitchen cabinet for 4 hours while I attended to chores. It expanded enormously! After degassing, it was prodded into a flat rectangle about 12"x9" and left to prove for 2 hrs. Again, it rose well. Drizzled the top with olive oil and coarse salt and baked at 425 for 20 mins. Yes! A sourdough focaccia. Looked good. Texture wasn't bad. Taste? Uninspiring. Very ordinary, much like normally yeasted white bread. No sourness that my jaded palate could detect. I assume that acidity will develop with time. This starter was, after all, just a week old.

leucadian's picture

I see the thread has wandered over to SD issues, and I thought you might want to re-post in the Sourdough forum with a different subject to give more attention to your questioin about your starter.

My two bits: your starter seems plenty active to leaven bread, but it might not have the right microorganisms necessary for the sourness you want. Not every wild yeast starter will have the flora to produce the acid that you're after, and even if it does, it might not be getting the right environment to encourage their growth.

One contributor on TFL claimed that semolina was a good way to RESTORE the tang in a starter that had gone un-sour. And finally, here's my favorite article on SD culture fttp:// 

You can google the author's names for other research they have published.


Hamilton's picture

Thanks Stewart, for the comments and redirect. I'm still finding my way around the site. I'll take my SD queries to the appropriate forum

earvinjames123's picture

Seems to be a nice recipe but would have to try it first at far as your question about taking semolina and puting it in a food process or blender for a few minutes until it's fine like durum is concerened.

ehanner's picture

Durum flour isn't easily found in local stores around here. You can find semolina but it is much more course ground. I have bought it mail order a few times. I see that NY Bakers ad on the front page has Durum in smaller quantities.I'm planning on buying a new scale and getting a kilo of Durum for free to use for the holidays.

Durum is the magic behind the curtain in those European flavors and old style breads. I add a small amount instead of using rye in my white breads and the deep flavor is remarkable.


rayel's picture

I recently purchased Durum, along with smaller qty. of Semolina which was courser and brighter yellow. The Durum is finely ground, but not as yellow. It is quite pale by comparison. Is this color difference  common?  Thanks, Ray