Italian sunshine: using durum wheat
Pane di Altamura is one of those special breads which is “region locked” – it earned a special status within (and around) Italy. According to Wikipedia:
By law, it must produced as to a range of demands, including particular varieties of wheat, certain specification of water and production method, and then have a final crust over 3mm in thickness, shape tends not to be important.
I’ve had a recipe lying around with two pages of background on the special naturally leavened bread from Italy I’ve been wanting to try for a while. But it’s not that simple to get your hands on durum wheat, or “semola di grano duro“. If you’re lucky, you can find coarse semolina flour in regular shops in Belgium, but that’s not the fine durum wheat type of flour we’re looking for here.
And then, I discovered little Italian speciality stores, which sell a bunchload of import food goodness. From special regional cheeses to hundreds of types biscotti – and yes, special flours including durum wheat and “00″ flour. Horray, let’s get baking!
Formula and taste
There is nothing very special about this sourdough bread bake, except maybe one thing: durum flour is also used a lot for pasta making as it’s rather… Stiff/coarse compared to other finer flours. Even this very finely ground flour will soak up much more water than you’re used to! So treat the hydration level as if you’re baking with wholewheat instead. I ended up using 70% hydration, and I found I could easily push it up to 75 or even 80%. It did not came out too wet, I’d even prefer it to be wetter.
Digits and stuff:
- 200gr sourdough starter, prepared from my wholerye using durum flour, 12h before, @ 100%
- 500gr durum flour
- 320gr water
- 15gr coarse sea salt
It was also the first time that I’ve used coarse sea salt in bread dough. It tasted very good, but using the slap & fold technique to incorporate the coarser salt was a bit of a pain: it constantly fell out and did not mix well! I think coarse salt would be a nice fit if you’re using stretch & fold inside the bowl only.
The bread had a bulk ferment of 3 hours @ 27°C (yes the kitchen is searing hot here in the summer…) and then popped into the fridge for 24 hours. It came out lovely sour! Bloomed well enough in the oven but I expected to have more irregular holes in the crumb.