Tag Archives: grano duro

Durum wheat sponge and dough bread

Baked and cut durum and Manitoba bread

After my recent, pleasingly successful experiment with a biga, I made a couple of loaves that seemed wonderful, but one turned out to be under-baked (shame on me), and the second just went weird after a few days. I think, like me, it can’t really handle the heat, as the Roman summer inches towards the trials of August, with  its high-30s (100 ish and more old money) temperatures, and thriving tiger mosquito population.

I made a multigrain seeded loaf that seemed great the first few slices, but didn’t like being taken to the park for a picnic in 35C temperatures (followed by a massive storm). The previously nice, firm crumb collapsed and went kind of fizzy. Again, it was as it if had been under-baked. And possibly even under-proved, though this is bizarre as it’d had a nice long prove, mostly in the fridge as the 25C kitchen was too warm.

To try and diagnose this mystery, I vowed I’d make a nice simple white loaf, just with strong white flour (or Manitoba as it’s known in Italy) and see how it coped with the heat.

Farina di grano duro and farina di Manitoba

Every time I open my flour bin, however, I see a pack of something that needs a bit of stock-rotation. In this case, I wanted to use up some of a bag of grano duro flour, that is durum wheat, (Triticum durum). It’s a type of flour that is more typically used for pasta, but I’ve baked with it before. I also had a bag of rice flour hanging around, so some of that went in too.

Also, following the biga experiment, I decided to do a sponge and dough method. Just to see if it coped better with the heat than the previous two loaves, that were made with the bulk fermentation method (BFM).

The BFM is your basic bread-making that involves creating a dough with all the flour, all the water, all the yeast, and processing that: first prove, shaping, second prove, bake. The sponge and dough method, on the other hand, involves using liquid (all or most of it) and part of the flour, with the yeast, then fermenting that more liquid mixture, called the sponge, before adding the rest of the flour and proceeding with a dough, proving, shaping and baking. Like a biga, a sponge is a type of pre-ferment.

Duro-Manitoba sponge

A note on the yeast
I use fresh yeast. It’s known as lievito di birra in Italy, or cake yeast in North America.

If you’ve only got active dried yeast (ADY), use 4g. If you’ve only got instant/easyblend yeast, use 3g. Add the latter directly to the part of the flour you’re mixing with the liquid to make the sponge.

A basic rule of thumb for conversion is x3: that is, 3g ADY = 9g fresh yeast. You need less instant yeast than ADY. But I wouldn’t agonise: as long as your least is alive and well and happy, it’ll do what it needs to do even with a few gram’s variation. The time it takes the dough to ferment and prove will also vary depending on the temperature of water you use, the temperature of your kitchen, etc.

200g grano duro/durum wheat flour
50g rice flour
250g strong white/Manitoba flour (00 or 0 grade)
350g water (tepid)
10g fresh yeast
10g fine sea salt

Dough, unkneaded

1. Combine the water and yeast in a bowl. Whisk slightly to break up the yeast.
2. Combine all the flours in a bowl.
3. Put half of the flour mix in another bowl. Add the water/yeast mixture.
4. Stir together the flour and water/yeast to make a sponge.
5. Leave the sponge , covered, to ferment. I left mine for about 80 minutes in a warm kitchen. It should look nice and bubbly and active when it’s ready.
6. Add the salt to the remaining dry flour, mix it in, then add this to the sponge.
7. Bring the dough together in the bowl, turning it out when it’s mostly combined.
8. Knead the dough until smooth. You can do a longer knead once, or the Dan Lepard method of short kneads three times in half an hour.

Dough, kneaded
9. Form a ball of dough and place it in a clean bowl. I add a drop of veg oil to the bowl for nonstickiness.
10. Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size. Again, depends on temps etc, so check every now and then. It’ll probably be around one and a half hours if it’s in a warm place.

Dough, first prove
11. Turn out the dough, and form a ball.
12. Leave the ball to rest for 10 minutes.
13. Form a baton.
14. Leave the baton to prove again, ideally in a basket or banneton lined with floured cloth.

Dough, in proving basket
15. Pre-heat oven to 220C.
16. When the baton is doubled in size and soft to the touch, turn out onto a baking sheet.
17. Bake for around 25 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200C and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the loaf is well-browned and feels fairly light and ‘hollow’ when picked up.
18. Cool on a wire rack.

Dough, in proving basket, proved

Thus far, this bread has been behaving – and not giving me any insights into what went wrong with my previous loaf. If the crumb suddenly collapses and starts to ferment, I’ll report back.

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Durum wheat bread with linseed and farro grains

grano duro, farro, linseed bread

Another one of my bread experiments. For some reason I’d ended up with two packets of farina di grano duro – that is, flour made from Triticum durum wheat (with duro meaning “hard” in Italian and Latin respectively.) It’s more typically used for making pasta, but it seems to be a reasonable bread component too and is used fairly widely. I have used it in the mix with good results before, such as in my Absurdly wholesome multigrain, multiseed loaf, but this one made with a much higher proportion of farina di grano duro.

So anyway.

100g farro grains. I used farro perlato. With farro here meaning farro dicocco (Triticum dicoccum), also known in English as emmer. You could use any type of wheat grain (such as spelt grains), or even, say, pearl barley.
50g linseed (“good for you mane and tail” as my friend Stephen McGrath of Newton Livery, NZ, once told me)
8g fresh yeast
300g cooking liquid from the grain (see below)
80g leaven
100g strong white flour (I used what’s known as “Manitoba” in Italy)
400g farina di grano duro / durum wheat flour or fine semolina flour
10g fine sea salt

1. Cook the farro grains in water until they’re soft but a little chewy. This can take around 20 minutes, but will more likely be more. Keep tasting them to check.
2. Strain the cooked grains, reserving the cooking water.
3. Weight out 150g of the cooked farro grains. (You can use any leftovers for other breads, or add them to salads.)

Cooked farro grain
4. Grind the linseed to break it up a bit but don’t completely pulverise. You can use a pestle and mortar, coffee grinder or even a liquidiser goblet.
5. Cover the broken linseed with a little of the cooking water. (This will help soften it up slightly before it’s added to the dough, but arguably isn’t strictly necessary.)
6. Combine the yeast, 300g of the grain cooking water and leaven and whisk together.
7. Put the flours and salt in a large bowl and mix slightly to distribute the salt.
8. Add the yeasty mix to the flours and bring to a dough.
9. Turn out onto a lightly oiled work surface and knead to combine. As this bread is using so much durum wheat, the dough won’t be as springy and stretchy as one made with a strong white bread flour.
10. Form a ball and return the dough to the bowl (cleaned). Rest for ten minutes, then knead again briefly. Repeat this process once more.
11. Gently stretch out the dough, then add the seeds and grains. Knead to combine.
12. Leave the dough to prove in a bowl covered with a clean cloth until it’s doubled in size. Times will vary, according to the temperature and the liveliness of your leaven.
13. Once the dough has doubled, take it out of the bowl and knead briefly and gently before forming a ball. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.
14. Tighten up the ball, then place in a proving basket or bowl lined with a floured cloth, with the smooth surface downwards and the “tucked” surface upwards.
15. Cover and prove again until doubled in size.
16. Preheat your oven to 220C.
17. Turn out the dough on onto a lined baking tray.
18. I brushed mine with egg white as I had some spare, but you could use whole egg or milk to give slightly different glazes.
19. Cut a cross.
20. Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200C and bake for a further 20 minutes.
21. If it’s baked enough (tap the bottom, check the colour; don’t be afraid to overbake a bit more if you’re not sure it’s done), take out and cool on a wire rack.
22. Eat as you see fit.

Prosciutto sandwich

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