Monday, July 20, 2009

King Arthur's Semolina Bread

Sunday, July 20, 2009

I was trying to decide what kind of bread to make this weekend, when I ran across this recipe on the King Arthur website. I'm a big fan of breads made with semolina flour (or durum, the more often recommended, and finer-textured, alternative). Most semolina bread recipes call for about half semolina flour and half something else--all purpose or bread, most often. But this one was 100% semolina flour. If some is good, more must be better, right? Oddly, though, the distinctive taste of semolina flour that I like so much seemed to be less noticeable than it is when it's mixed with another flour. I liked this bread, and it makes wonderful toast, but it's not as distinctive as I hoped it would be.

It makes a lovely, cream-colored dough that's both easy to mix and easy to handle. (I read--too late for this bread--that it's a good idea to add any of the milk solids that are strained out making clarified butter, as I did on, to bread dough. I'll just take that on faith, for now).
It rose very nicely too, both in the bowl and in the pan:

As it should, since it has a full tablespoon of yeast.
It made a handsome loaf, too, with a nice texture.

And it tasted good, too. Jim was a big fan, and my friend Karen, who came over to taste the plum ingots, took a piece home with her. Despite all these virtues, I'll admit I'm feeling just lukewarm about this bread. Maybe it needs the addition of a different kind of flour to enhance the taste, or maybe, because it's a direct mix bread, it lacks the added flavor that a pre-ferment or a little sourdough adds.
I can recommend this bread as one that won't give you any trouble, but I can't say that your life would be less meaningful if you never tasted this bread. I'll admit that's a high standard, but it's the best I can do at summarizing my mixed feelings about it.


evil cake lady said...

I like your honesty. It is a very pretty loaf, but for all the work that goes into making bread I would hope for something amazing.
Beautiful photos Jim!

pinknest said...

well, at least it looked nice and yes, the dough looks very lovely!

breadbasketcase said...

It wasn't a hard bread at all--you could do it blindfolded--and I would have been quite happy with it but I somehow thought that an all-semolina bread would be perfection itself.

I think I overstated my lukewarmness, if such a thing is possible. If I'd bought it at a bakery, I'd have been pleased. I've just become a bread snob.

jini said...

i can't imagine you are any kind of snob marie. i'm sorry you weren't blown away by the bread....would sourdough additions make it better?

breadbasketcase said...

Oh my goodness, you should hear my daughters carry on about what a snob I am--especially a food snob and a grammar snob!

Melinda said...

I think after making breads with a pre-ferment or sourdough starter, I have become spoiled, too. It is amazing the added flavour it gives to the bread.
(I like the creamy white colour of durum flour also.

breadbasketcase said...

Jini suggested adding sourdough to this bread, and I think I might have to fool around with the recipe a bit. I agree that the flavor payoff of a pre-ferment is enormous, but it's good to have some recipes that don't require a lot of thinking ahead. (At least it's good for me).

Doughadear said...

This bread looks very nice. I am sorry that you didn't get what you expected from this recipe. I make a sourdough where you add a very small amount of semolina which I love. However I have not had much luck with durum flour or I should say luck finding the durum described in bread cookbooks. I once bought durum from a bulk store to make Rose's Golden Semolina Torpedo and ended up throwing the whole thing out. The bin was labeled durum wheat and explained that it was used for making roti and said nothing about making pasta with it. A red flag should have gone up because it was a pale tan colour instead of the lovely golden hue of semolina but I figured durum is durum so I bought it. I was really looking forward to this torpedo unfortunately it didn't taste good at all. I would order from King Arthur and hope that it would give me better results but shipping costs are more than the product so I continue to make breads with semolina and not durum flour.

breadbasketcase said...

I love the durum flour from King Arthur, but you're right about the shipping costs. The only solution I've found to the frightful cost of shipping two pounds of flour is to order enough other stuff that the shipping charges seem more commensurate. I'll admit that some people might say that's not really a cost-saving measure.