Jun 27, 2015

Durum Bread

Durum Bread

I have wanted to try making this Durum Bread for quite some time. I love the nutty flavor of durum flour, but I'm sometimes defeated by the fragility of the dough.

Durum flour has a high protein level, and is typically used for making pasta. It does not behave like bread or all purpose flour. However, it does make amazingly flavorful bread, as long as you pay attention and make sure you are developing adequate strength in the dough.

The flour can be found in Indian markets or online. You may even be able to find it at a big box store. I get mine from King Arthur Flour, as well as Surfas Culinary District (we are lucky enough to have the mothership here). Don't confuse it with the more coarsely ground semolina. Durum is finely ground.

I love it in this Durum Stirato (beginner), Semolina Sourdough (advanced),  and Semolina Rounds (intermediate). The most famous bread with durum is pane di Altamura. It is made with 100% durum. You are not supposed to call any bread pane di Altamura unless it is actually made in Altamura. Hopefully the Italian bread police won't come and get me!

Durum Bread

As I mentioned, I've had some serious failures with this flour, yet I am always drawn back to it because of its flavor, the beautiful yellow color, and the challenge.

This particular bread has a high percentage of durum flour (90%) and is leavened by both a levain (sourdough), and a small amount of yeast. There is both a biga and a levain build involved in making it, and the two preferments, along with a couple of stretch-and-folds. It's 80% hydration (bread geek talk for a very wet and sticky dough). I'm pretty excited about the final product. It makes the best toast and cheese bread!

The biga and levain are made about 12 to 16 hours prior to mixing the final dough. If it's the weekend, I mix them the evening before, and make the bread the next day.

Durum Bread



9.6 ounces (2 1/8 cups) durum flour
6.2 ounces (3/4 cups) water
Pinch of instant yeast


3.2 ounces bread flour
4 ounces water
.6 ounces active starter

Final Dough

1 lb. 3.2 ounces (4 1/4 cups) durum flour
15.4 ounces (2 cups)
1 T salt
1 tsp instant yeast
All of the biga
All of the levain


Make the Biga

  1. Mix all of the biga ingredients until smooth. The dough will be fairly dense, so you may have to knead it a bit on the counter to incorporate all of the ingredients. 
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 16 hours. 

Make the Levain (at the same time as the biga)

  1. Mix the levain ingredients in a small bowl. 
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 16 hours, until bubbly. 

Final Dough

  1. Add all of the final dough ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  2. Mix with the spiral attachment on low for about 3 minutes. 
  3. Change to the second lowest speed and mix for about 2 minutes. The dough will be very sticky. 
  4. Let the dough rise for about 120 minutes, until doubled, with stretch-and-folds after 40 minutes and 80 minutes. This will strengthen the dough. 
  5. Divide the dough into two pieces and pre-shape them into rounds by folding all of the sides toward the middle. Flip the dough over and place on a lightly floured surface. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rest for about 10 minutes. 
  6. Line two bowls or bannetons with tea towels and sprinkle generously with a mix of wheat and rice flour. 
  7. Flip the dough back over, and shape again into boules. Place them, seam side up, into the bowls. Cover with plastic wrap.
  8. Let rise for about an hour, until puffy. If the room is colder, let rise about 90 minutes. 
  9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with a baking stone or cast iron Dutch ovens. If you are using a stone, set up your oven for steam by placing a pan on the lowest rack. 
  10. Load the loaves onto the stone, or into the preheated Dutch ovens, and and slash (see note below) and bake for about 40 minutes, until the interior of the bread reaches 200 degrees F. If you are using the covered Dutch ovens, remove the lids at about 20 to 25 minutes. 
Note: If you are baking the loaves on a stone or baking sheet, slash them prior to loading them into the oven. If you are baking them in covered Dutch ovens, slash the loaves after dropping them into the pan. 


  1. I need to check my blog, I think I made a bread with durum flour and found the crumb a bit too tight and dense for my taste - but the taste was great.

    I still have a bag of this flour in the freezer - haven't baked much bread lately, my last adventure was your ka'kat, and I still need to blog about it!


    1. Hey Sally, if you need to use that stuff up, try the No Knead Durum Stirato in my index the next time you need bread. You'll get a nice open crumb and a really delicious bread.

  2. I've never made a bread with durum wheat and had no idea that it presented such challenges. glad I have you as my guide if I decide to try it.

    1. Awww, thanks Laura! Of course I didn't post the big fail I had from durum last month. I definitely would not start with this one first! You kind of have to work your way up to it.


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