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Maggie Glezer's "Tom Cat's Semolina Filone" -- ERROR IN FORMULA???

scotgibson's picture

Maggie Glezer's "Tom Cat's Semolina Filone" -- ERROR IN FORMULA???

This may be of interest to anyone who’s tried to make the recipe “Tom Cat’s Semolina Filone” from Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking Across America. I’d appreciate it if anyone who’s familiar with this recipe would weigh in on my idea.  


I’m convinced that there’s a typo in this recipe in the Glezer book, or something amiss, because (1) the math just doesn’t work out, and (2) there are lots of posts around the Internet talking about how “gloppy” this dough is.  Glezer claims that this is overall a 68% hydration dough, but in her formula (which I won’t reprint here):


TOTAL WATER:  370 g (including 1/4 cup (59 g) of yeast water in the poolish)

TOTAL FLOUR 450 g (150 in the poolish, 300 in the dough)

HYDRATION = 370/450 = 82% !!!


Note this as well — she says that the hydration of the poolish is 110%, but I think she forgot the 1/4 cup (59 g) of yeast water, which raises the hydration of the poolish to 129% (59 g yeast water + 135 g water = 194g total water / 150 g flour).  


I think one thing that’s happening is that, since this book came out in 2000, we’re all getting much better at handling high hydration doughs, so we’re just rolling with the error.  But she clearly says in her formula that “This dough should be soft and tacky but not gloppy.”  And an 82% hydration dough is, well, always gloppy.  


Anyway — I’ve made it a couple of times as written, and it’s always delicious, but it tastes and feels very much like a very high hydration dough.  It's challenging to work with (especially to coat in sesame seeds), but with some good high-hydration technique (i.e. a very light touch) yields a delicious custardy crumb.  


I wonder how it would be if the hydration was reduced to 68% as she indicates.  Which would be as follows (this is my gloss on her formula, which makes a 110% hydration poolish and a 68% hydration dough):



Instant yeast: 1/4 tsp (1 g)

Water (110-115 degrees): 1 cup (235 g) (Note — only use 1/4 cup of yeast water, not the full 1 cup)

Unbleached bread flour: 75 g

Unbleached AP flour: 75 g 

   (Note:  or use 150 g King Arthur AP flour, which has a higher gluten %)

Water (cold in summer, warm in winter): 106 g *** 


POOLISH DIRECTIONS:  Dissolve yeast in water 1 cup 110-115 degree water, let sit for 5 min to soften, stir to dissolve.  Mix flours (or just use King Arthur), and add ***1/4 cup (59 g) yeasted water*** plus 135 cup non-yeasted water to flour.  Mix with spoon until smooth, and let sit overnight to ferment.




Durum Flour (extra fine): 250 g

Unbleached AP flour: 50 g

Water, lukewarm: 140 g ***

Instant yeast: 1/4 tsp

Fermented poolish:  all (375 g)

Salt: 9 g



*** Adjusted Water Amount to for 68% hydration




Combine flour and water in the mixing bowl and mix this stiff dough with the dough hook on low speed until combined.  Cover, and let rest (autolyse) for 1 hour.


Sprinkle the yeast over the poolish and let stand for 5 min. Add the poolish to the dough and mix together on low speed to a soft, smooth dough that cleans the sides of the bowl (5 min). Sprinkle on the salt and mix for about 2 min until dissolved.  


Ferment this dough until light and bubbly and almost doubled in bulk (about 3 h at RT), initially giving 3 folds at 20-minute intervals.  Leave undisturbed for the rest of the time. 


Turn dough out and rest for 20 min — it should be very relaxed.  Shape into a 12-inch batard, handling as delicately as possible to avoid de-gassing.  Coat in sesame seeds.  


Proof for 30-60 minutes.  


Bake at 400 degree F for 45-55 minutes, with steam if desired, until deep golden brown.  





I'm curious if others have tried to make this, and also if others could check my math.  







suave's picture

I don't think she actually says it's a 68% hydration dough, she just uses the somewaht annoying way of writing down the formula that does not count water in the preferment and that only works if you also give total formula which she does not.  I see it as a (150*1.3+205)/500 = 80% hydration dough, not entirely out of the realm of possibility.   My records do show that I cut quite a bit of water when I baked it, but, 1) it was before I had steady access to durum flour, so it was probably made with semolina, which simply does not hydrate the same, 2) I did it in the middle of the summer, which usually, for me, requires some reduction in hydration, and 3) yes, today I probably would be better able (even if much less eager) to deal with a wet dough. 

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

When dealing with durum wheat. Durum absorbs quite a bit of liquid. Add an autolyze if the formula does not include one. Take your time and give the flour a chance to hydrate fully. 

dellskin's picture

This is very timely, I just made this bread a couple days ago and knew the hydration was way off compared to the description of the dough. I did the calculations before reading this post and agree with your assessment and quantities. I will test the new recipe in a few days.

BMBell3535's picture

Has anyone tried making this with Scot's updated water quantity?  Or any further insights from Scot?  I made this following the original recipe and it was definitely gloppy and it's the second time I attempted.  I stumbled upon this post after the fact unfortunately.  Thanks! - Brian