Aug 2, 2017

Italian Style Durum Wheat Bread

This Italian Style Durum Wheat Bread, with its gorgeous gold color, airy crumb, and chewy crust, might just be my new favorite bread.

This Italian Style Durum Wheat Bread, with its gorgeous gold color, airy crumb, and chewy crust, might just be my new favorite bread.

I love the flavor of this Italian Style Durum Wheat Bread, and I'm so happy with the look and chew of the crust and crumb.

"What is durum?" you ask! It's a high protein (hard) flour that is typically used for making pasta. In fact, durum, in Latin, means "hard." It has a lovely yellow color, as well as a wonderful nutty flavor. However, for me at least, it's a difficult flour to work with when making bread. Even though it is high in protein, the gluten can be delicate and difficult to develop.

This Italian Style Durum Wheat Bread, with its gorgeous gold color, airy crumb, and chewy crust, might just be my new favorite bread.

This bread is about 60 percent durum wheat and 40 percent bread flour, with a 90 percent hydration formula. What do I mean by that? The ratio of water to flour is 90 percent water to flour, resulting in a very sticky dough, which can be difficult to handle. The happy side of the high hydration is an airy crumb. Note: You won't get nearly the open crumb that you would with 100 percent bread flour at 90 percent hydration due to the nature of durum.

This bread requires using a stand mixer for the initial kneading, and then two sets of "stretch-and-folds" to properly develop the gluten without tearing it. While you can do the initial kneading by hand, you will find it very frustrating due to the stickiness of the dough.

This Italian Style Durum Wheat Bread, with its gorgeous gold color, airy crumb, and chewy crust, might just be my new favorite bread.

We loved this bread, and pretty much fought over who would get the final slices. The crust is very chewy, and the bread is delicious buttered, dipped in olive oil, topped with a bruschetta, grilled, or as a vehicle for sopping up sauces at dinner.

You will typically find durum flour online only, however, if you have an Indian market nearby, you might find it there, often labeled as Atta. I've also heard that some Costco stores carry durum.

Durum and semolina are from the same wheat, and semolina can often be found in supermarkets. However, durum is more finely ground. If you have a flour mill (I love the WonderMill), spice grinder, or a good blender such as a Vitamix, you could try grinding semolina with it to produce the finer durum for this bread.

If you want to flex some new bread baking muscles, you definitely need to try this bread. I was so thrilled with the results, and pretty much overcame my fear of working with durum in bread.

Here are more recipes using durum:
  1. Durum Bread: This bread is 90 percent durum with an 80 percent hydration. The crumb is a bit tighter. 
  2. Durum Stirato: This is one of my favorite ways of making free form baguettes. It's a very wet dough with 50 percent durum.
  3. Pane di Altamura: This one is 100 percent durum. It was a bit of a challenge, not to mention that the Italian bread police came after me because I didn't actually make the bread in Altimura. 
  4. Semolina Rounds: This bread is about 55 percent durum. It took me a couple of tries, but the bread is amazing, especially with the sesame seed topping. 
  5. Semolina Sourdough: This bread is about 65 percent durum, 75 percent hydration, and made with an all natural starter. It was amazing, very crusty, and the method inspired the bread for this recipe. 
  6. Semolina bread with apricots and sage: While these rolls were wonderful, as you can see, the dough showed tears on the surface, demonstrating the delicate nature of durum. 
If you are a bread geek like I am (or even if you are not), I encourage you to get some durum flour (or grind your own from semolina), and make this bread! It's delicious. 

Italian Style Durum Wheat Bread

Italian Style Durum Wheat Bread



  • 4 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) bread flour
  • (4 ounces) room temperature water
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

Final dough:

  • 9 1/2 ounces (2 cups) durum flour
  • 2 3/4 ounces (1/2 cup) bread flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 10 2/3 ounces (1 1/3 cups) water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. To make the sponge: Stir all of the sponge ingredients together until combined in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 6 to 24 hours at room temperature.
  2. To make the final dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flours and yeast together. Add the water to the sponge and stir with a dough whisk or large spoon. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and begin mixing the flour mixture while slowly adding the sponge and water mixture. Mix for about 2 minutes, until there is no visible dry flour. Remove the paddle from the mixer and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the salt to the bowl, and, using the dough hook, knead the dough on medium low for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and begins to clear the sides of the bowl. I added an additional 2 tablespoons of bread flour, but be careful about adding too much. The dough should be very sticky.
  4. Scrape the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Using a wet dough scraper or an oiled hand, stretch and fold the dough from all "sides" for eight 45 degree turns of the bowl. Cover the bowl again, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  6. After the dough rests, repeat the eight stretch and folds one more time. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes.
  7. Set up your oven with a baking stone on the middle rack, and a steam pan (I usually use a broiler pan) on the lowest rack. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  8. Place a 13 by 18 inch piece of parchment paper on the counter, and flour it generously. Using a dough scraper, gently scrape the dough out onto the floured parchment. With floured hands, gently pull the dough into a 14 inch by 9 inch rectangle. You do not want to deflate the dough.
  9. Fold the long sides of the rectangle over each other, like a business letter that is 14 inches long by about 4 inches wide. Seal the seam, and then, using an oiled or wet dough scraper and floured hands, flip the loaf over so that it is seam side down. Use your hands or the dough scraper to tuck the sides under the loaf to tighten it. Slip a pizza peel or a cookie sheet under the parchment and cover the loaf with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise for about 30 minutes until the loaf has grown by about 50 percent.
  10. When ready to bake, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Holding a very sharp knife or a lame at an angle, slash the length of the loaf and immediately transfer the loaf, parchment and all, to the hot baking stone. Pour the boiling water into the steam pan and immediately close the oven door. (If your oven door has a window, cover it with a towel to prevent water from spilling on it before pouring. Be sure to remove the towel before closing the oven door).
  11. Bake the loaf for 30 to 35 minutes, until the interior reaches about 210 degrees F. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 3 hours.
Yield: 1 loaf
Recipe adapted from Bread Illustrated

This Italian Style Durum Wheat Bread, with its gorgeous gold color, airy crumb, and chewy crust, might just be my new favorite bread.


  1. The bread looks absolutely delicious and nice bed crumbs, beautiful color, thanks for sharing Karen

  2. oh, Karen... I really need to bake bread again!

    yet another trip on the horizon, one more week away from home, but then I SHALL BE BAAAAAAAAACK

  3. Nothing beats homemade bread - this looks like total comfort food!

  4. This is so perfectly 'our kind' of artisan bread. I'm looking at the pics and discretely drooling. I've seen durum flour at our local food co-op. Now I know how to use it. Looks like fall baking is about to begin! Thank you!

    1. Oh thanks so much! You won't be disappointed!

  5. Looks excellent Karen! Thanx for introducing durum flour to us, we've never seen this before. It must be like a yellowish emmer flour, right? And must be more like a powder than fine semolina. We'll have to look for it, this bread sounds amazing:)

    1. It is actually semolina, but ground fine. I think it is also called atta. It has a wonderful flavor. I bet you could use emmer!

    2. Thanx sooo much for clarifying dear! xoxo

  6. This bread turned out great - very airy with a soft crust and a nice taste. I had recently come into possession of a ton of durum flour and was so happy to find this recipe! I would recommend this bread and look forward to trying more things with durum.

    1. I'm so glad! I'm a big fan of the flavor of durum.

  7. Best bread I have ever made... soooooo good!! Thanks for the recipe.


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