The Fresh Loaf

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Help! Semolina tight crumb.

windycityloafster's picture
windycityloafster

Help! Semolina tight crumb.

This is my second attempt at  a high semolina % loaf, this one is 100%. I understand that the dough struggles from lack of extensibility, and the flour is very thirsty, so on and so forth- this crumb wasn't a surprise. What weirds me out is how and why this loaf exhibited this shape and degree of spring- if the dough lacks the extensibility for an open and lacy crumb, why can it open so much at the score? If it opens so much at the score, why doesn't the volume of the loaf increase? I would think either it would lack that visible expansion to begin with, or it would exhibit some signs of collapse, but instead the whole thing looks like this. Does anyone have any advice on this? I'd really like to get comfortable with this so I can make pane siciliano, but I feel like I can't get over this hump.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I don't see a contradiction: you can have a big oven spring and bloom, and a tight crumb, that's normal.

Anyway, recommend posting in the semolina CB. This is a great looking loaf!

alfanso's picture
alfanso

with this beauty.  Yeah, a number of us scratch our heads about fantastic oven spring, as you have here, and minor open crumb.  Semolina/durum flour is just not overly friendly about open crumb.  Have a look around at the bakes from the current Community Bake and you will see that your bread falls right in line.

I do take exception to the ongoing comments I've seen about the lack of extensibility of a semolina based dough.  I've found this to be quite false, and my semolina bakes (and I've had a pretty fair share of them) range between 65% and 75% hydration with the majority of the flour being semolina.  As early as the first letter fold/stretch & fold at the 20 minute Bulk Ferment mark, I've seen significant extensibility with virtually every mix I've done.

"I'd really like to get comfortable with this so I can make pane siciliano, but I feel like I can't get over this hump."  If you'll take a gander at the majority of the bakes in the CB, you will quickly get over the hump!  I'm certain my semolina baking compatriots in the CB will all concur.  You have our permission ;-) .

windycityloafster's picture
windycityloafster

thanks guys! I do get some extensibility early on, enough to get a thin enough layer to laminate the dough, but I feel like it just firms up over time or something. I think it also might notable that I am using central milling's type 110 high ash durum flour, making it super duper thirsty. Seriously, at 80% hydration, it still feels like a dry ball of pasta dough (go figure, its semolina) rather than bread, at 90% hydration it feels like a 75% hydration wheat dough. I ordered some "extra fancy" durum from them (i believe its lower ash, lower extraction and a bit more finely milled) and hopefully it will perform better, but it seems like I am on the right track. Thanks for the feedback guys! (also I will put these future semolina/durum breads in the community bake thread from now on)

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Alan, I can understand your viewpoint and why this idea of inextensibility might be difficult to make sense of, but the inherent nature of durum wheat has been well documented.

To be fair, it is a tricky notion, however the gluten proteins within durum are tough, both metaphorically and literally.

It is this inherent toughness that makes it suitable for pasta as it can bind sauces well, without making things slimy as a soft extensible wheat would (…think noodles).

Durum is the hardest wheat of all and respectively its gluten is hard and tenacious.

It is quite true that Durum wheat tends to be inextensible. It might be more easily observed in doughs with a modest hydration.

For the baker, increasing water content when working with durum wheat will inevitably result in more extensibility, however some of the gluten will be lost or undeveloped, because the gluten doesn't like to be over-hydrated.

Rheological tests demonstrate the high tenacity and poor extensibility - the alveograph providing values way above the optimal balance of P/L = 0.55. Durum tends to be above 1.xx or 2.xx or even 3.xx. I.e. Very resistant!

This tenacity of Durum wheat means it needs a good amount of energy input to work into a strong network and why breads like pane di Altamura and pane di Matera legally stipulate sufficiently long mixing times of 20-40 minutes.

Something to think about...


Michael

alfanso's picture
alfanso

because I don't have a leg to stand on vs. statistical breakdown of the components in a laboratory setting.

 However, I'll make another batch of the Tom Cats very soon.  At 75% hydration (plus I probably add another 1-2% with my wetted mixing hands and wet countertop for Letter Folds), this is a 55 Durum / 45 AP flour blend with IDY and a poolish.  

With nothing more than a 20-30 minute autolyse, subsequent hand mixing and 100 French Folds total, with a 5 min. rest halfway through the FFs.  The first Letter Fold is at the 20 minute BF mark and the dough is about as extensible and any.  And in that regard, no different than other flour blends with at least 50% durum that I worked with.  

I don't think that what I do is so extraordinary and I can't speak to any other single person's experience.  But my own personal evidence makes it clear to me that the extensibility of this dough rivals others that I've made.  And almost every one undergoes the same methodology.  No long autolyse, incorporation by hand French Folds limited to ~6-100, and Letter Folds during BF.   

To be continued.  Stay tuna-ed... 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Michael & Mariana,

I mixed a small batch of Tom Cat dough early this morning.  This is the first letter fold at 20 minutes into the BF.  The extensibility of the dough speaks for itself.  I could have stretched it further, but why?

55 durum/ 45 AP @75% hydration, 90% hydration poolish, 100 French Folds divided by a 5 min rest.

Benito's picture
Benito

I found similar extensibility with my 100% semolina dough as well.  I did quite a lovely lamination with it and it didn’t feel any different from other doughs I’ve worked with.  And this was with dough that I fully developed the gluten at the start of bulk not waiting to develop it with folds, just relying on folds and lamination for structure.

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi alfanso, 

what a beautiful dough you have! simply a mesmerizing beauty. 

I have also found the same from my experience, that lowering all-purpose content all the way down to 40-45% still preserves pretty much all of the characteristics of wheat dough. Like in your example, it stretches just like a 100% all-purpose would.

Any flour can be added to All-purpose flour, all the way up to 60% of non-bread wheat flours: durum, spelt, rye, oats, barley... just about anything, and the resulting bread still bakes like a bread wheat loaf, only now it would be smelling and tasting like it is a durum bread, or rye bread, or oat bread etc.

The alteration of aroma and taste starts from 10-15% non-bread wheat ingredients in the formula, but for the crumb to change drastically it should be more that 60% of non-bread wheat flour in the formula. 

All-purpose flours are all different of course. Some are gentle and weak and have low gluten content, down to 28%, others are strong with gluten content in the high 40s - 46-48%. Durum, as far as I know from my own tests, has about 28-34% gluten.

If durum is mixed with bread wheat with higher gluten content, if will not overpower the behavior of the all-purpose flour matrix as much even if there is a lot of durum in the formula. Especially so, if AP is finely milled and durum is in form of semolina. A little bit of all-purpose flour with a lot of high quality bread gluten in it will save the day.

Hamelman uses KAF APF with 48% gluten. His 'semolina' bread dough behaves absolutely the same as 100% bread wheat would, even though it contains 50% durum which profoundly affects the taste and looks of bread crumb and its flavor. I watched his Isolation Bake show ep10 yesterday where he makes that dough and bakes from it. KAF APF is so reliable, he recommends to bake with it even high % durum breads even to the novice bread bakers. 

Benito's picture
Benito

Nothing wrong at all with that loaf.  If you have a look at the CB you’ll see that I also baked two 100% semolina sourdough loaves at 80% hydration.  You method isn’t clear to me from your posting, but I found that semola rimacinata is thirsty but takes some time to absorb that water.  In order to ensure that it is fully hydrated I used an overnight saltolyse and by the morning it was a beautiful smooth extensible dough.  After that point I don’t recall it feeling significantly less extensible than other doughs.  

How long did you autolyse for?

Benny

windycityloafster's picture
windycityloafster

I did a short 30 minute autolyse period, then mixed in my levain, followed by a 30 minute rest before adding salt. I based this on some anecdote I read a while back on semolina flours not benefiting from an extended autolyse, though come to think of it I think I heard that from an unsubstantiated forum post quite a while ago, not even sure if it was from here or some other forum. I am trying again today, I have increased the hydration and autolyse period and the dough feels much more like the extensible goodness I am used to. Next time I will lower the hydration again and opt for an overnight premix with salt. Thanks again for the feedback!

Benito's picture
Benito

Glad to hear you’re trying it again but with a longer autolyse. I also read that semolina doesn’t benefit from a long autolyse but given the size of the granules of flour it definitely takes longer than finer grained flours in my opinion and the proof is in the pudding. Looking forward to your next bake. 

Hope you post to the CB and share your recipe. 

Benny

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

I'm on my 3rd bake with a high bran (supposedly 100% whole grain) durum.

The bran makes it tricky. At  1.1 % ash (type 110), your CM durum flour is the equivalent of probably 75% whole grain.  whole grain is usually 1.7% and white flour is .55%.

I'm using a Canadian durum, that claims to be whole grain, but they won't tell me if it is 100% whole grain.

Here's what I've learned so far ..  whole grain durum is as different from normal durum/semolina as whole wheat is different from white AP/bread flour.

And, even when durum flour is finely ground, it is still "glassy" (vitreous, they call it). It just takes longer to hydrate, and then to soften.

I like to say it goes through "stages."  It may look like it is hydrated, so you stretch and fold it,  but it tears.  Now that could be because of two things:

1) It might need more water. or

2) It has enough water, but it's just that it hasn't been fully absorbed.

--

For normal red or white 100% whole wheat, what's the secret to open crumb? A loooong soak!

So with whole grain durum, I suspect it's going to be similar.  A looong soak is needed before any kneading or stretch-and-folding is done, because the gliadin and glutenin needs to get all wet first.  And that takes longer with glassy durum.

 

windycityloafster's picture
windycityloafster

That's super interesting, I will use these notes going forward. I just cant get enough of the science behind this stuff, every time I think I have it even a little figured out I learn just how much I don't know.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

My comments are definitely not science ;-)

-- just my interpretations of my observations of my particular ingredients and procedures.  "Interpretations" and "observations" are very subjective and wishy-washy.

As I mentioned today on the durum CB, I haven't established a "baseline" for this WW durum flour (Sher brand "Fiber Wala", from Brar Mills) that I am working with. I think this is the first time I'm using it in sourdough hearth loaves. I previously used it in some bread machine loaves, yeasted Gamelin style loaves, and flatbread/pizza -- but I forget what proportions.

With sourdough and home-milled flour, it wasn't until my 10th bake that I got a decent loaf. And I wasn't happy until the 13th bake. Maybe that says more about me than merely using a new method and new-to-me ingredients.  Hopefully, as a more experienced baker now, I can get that learning curve down to 5 or 6 when using a new-to-me ingredient or procedure. :-)

 

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi, 

not all durum flour is suitable for bread making and many do not even indicate on the bag that they are suitable for leavened breads, some only state that they are good for flat breads, couscous and pasta. Durum is not widely grown for leavened bread, at least not in North America. It is for pasta making. Even though some durum flours will give excellent breads, as great as breads from common wheat, many won't. So it's a gamble, each time you buy a bag of semolina you never know whether it will give you a good batch of bread dough, yeasted or sourdough. 

This is what research shows regarding suitability of durum to bread making durum-wheat-breeding: occasionally you will get semolina that is way too strong or excessively elastic in bread dough, which you got in your pictures. 

https://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/en/grain-research/scientific-reports/durum-wheat-breeding/

But many durum flours will give bread as good as from regular wheat bread flour . 

To illustrate, the top loaf is from bread flour ( Red Spring wheat), below are three loaves from different varieties of durum semolina. Two gave great bread and the bottom one was too strong and elastic for bread. It gave a loaf with tight crumb and low bread volume. 

Durum strength and normal or excessive elasticity

There is nothing you can do, except trying semolina flour from another source. They could be milled from different durum wheat and you would be luckier. 

It's an excess of elasticity that gave you such results. 

 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

and informative.

I can only report on what happens in my own kitchen and oven.   I've baked a fair amount of semolina/durum based breads, usually as baguettes/long batards and occasionally as full and even oversized batards.  

Along the way the sources for my semolina flour bakes have been Bob's Red Mill Semolina #1, Antimo Caputo Semola Rimacinata, open bin durum from my now closed down Italian market, my local Italian baker, Golden Temple Atta Durum which has some bits of a whole grain, and Tritordeum - which is a hybrid of Durum & Barley as both a pure durum rimacinata type of grind as well as a WW-like grind.  And I wouldn't be surprised if there was another one or two that snuck in there as well.

Made everything consisting of  ~30-40% to 100% durum flour, hydrations from 65-79%, baguette, batard, 6-strand challah, ciabatta, corona, pane di Matera and likely a few more.  And I really cannot recall ever seeing the results "misbehave".

Sure, when I was still wet behind the ears there were a very few bakes that I'd like to take back - wouldn't we all?  But by and large since those very early days I've never had the grain complain and give me an unwelcome result.

Once more, I can only report on what happens in my own kitchen and oven.  With so many sources and differing traits, perhaps I've just been fortunate.

If there's any bake that I can bank on for consistent results, aside from perhaps a Vermont SD, it is the Hamelman semolina levain which I featured as the first bread to kick off the current semolina CB

In my earlier reply to Michael I erroneously omitted a zero and reported that my French Folds are between 6-100, when the number is actually 60-100.

mariana's picture
mariana

Alfanso, your breads are looking simply amazing! Wow! I really admire your skill. 

The same thing that happened to you with durum - consistent results - happened to me with normal bread wheat. I've been baking with it for years and always with great results. :) Only once I got a bag that was so bad that bread was simply not good. That particular flour was too strong for bread, and dough was too elastic. From the same miller as usual, seemingly the same untreated and unbleached strong wheat flour. It wasn't labeled as bread flour or as all-purpose. Just as hard wheat unbleached which was never an issue before. 

I baked with semolina and semola rimacinata before as well but my very first attempt at baking with 100% European semolina flour gave me an awful result using tested bread formula. So I know how durum behaves when it misbehaves. Many durum wheat varieties are good for leavened breads, but there are some that aren't. 

I have a few bags of semolina flour straight from Italy right now, and Golden Temple Atta Durum is always available in stores, let alone Bob's Red Mill. I will test it in baking following your example. Your breads are to die for. Wow, wow, wow. Amazing. 

m.  

windycityloafster's picture
windycityloafster

Yeah, I am reading on the community bake page that the semolina/durum flour in question is usually about 12% protein (I know that protein content doesn't always directly relate to gluten content, but this seems relevant in this case); the flour I am using is type 110 high ash durum flour from central milling, with a whopping protein content of 15%.  I am waiting on a bag in the mail of their extra fancy durum, which they describe as suitable for breadbaking specifically- I can't remember its protein content off the top of my head but its a lower extraction and ash content, as well as milled to a finer degree. That being said I think that this loaf is the result of a combination of a particularly difficult flour to work with and my technique in this instance. The dough was very thirsty and overly elastic, but not to the extent where it was unworkable. It definitely exhibited some extensibility, to the extent that I was able to use lamination to build structure in the dough. I think it's a combination of factors. All that aside, thank you for this response, like I mentioned earlier I can't get enough of the science side of this stuff, and this helps explain a lot.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Windy City:

My comment on the Durum CB post may be of interest in regards to high bran durum:

https://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/481528#comment-481528

I just had an amazing loaf with 75% whole grain durum, two stage hydration (overnight soak with salt, plus adding water after the soak), and using 1% nutritional yeast.

The other two things likely had an effect, but I believe the two stage soak is key.

What I deduce is that the durum bran (which the other bakers are not using) is the "culprit" because it is behaving differently than the bran of red/white "regular" wheat.

(Granted, Alfanso is using Golden Temple, which has "some" bran, but it is not a "high bran" flour, plus he is blending it further with white non-durum flour.)

I think you and I, and the other baker using whole grain Greek durum, are the only ones using high bran or whole grain durum.