Durum wheat, the variety used to make dried pasta, mills into a golden, extra-hard flour also very good for bread. Durum flour (aka semolina) is rich in glutenin and gliadin, the two proteins responsible for the rise & lift of breads, so semolina loaves have an even, perfect crumb and a tremendous amount of oven spring. The baked loaf’s buttery color looks delicious, set off by a dark brown crust.
To bake with semolina, be sure to buy finely milled flour, sometimes labeled “fancy” or “extra-fancy”. It feels powdery to the touch, rather than gritty–the same grade of flour used for homemade dried pasta. Whole Foods sells it by weight in the bulk section of the store, so it’s easy to buy just enough for a single loaf.
I followed Dan Leader’s semolina sandwich loaf recipe (p. 251 of “Local Breads”). It is a direct-dough, rises quickly, and slices beautifully: in short, a great variation on the sort of daily bread most of us love.
Combine 1 1/2 cups water, 1 tsp instant yeast, 3 1/4 cups semolina, 1T granulated sugar, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 1/2 tsp sea salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to moisten the flour, then knead with a dough hook for 9-10 minutes, until it is shiny, very smooth, and windowpanes easily. Scrape the dough (it will be sticky & slightly fluid) into a large, oiled container. Allow to rise at room temp until doubled (1.5-2 hrs). Turn dough out onto a floured counter; shape into a loaf. Place the loaf into a greased loaf pan, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let it rise for another 1.5-2 hours, or until the bread rises just above the rim of the pan. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 35-45 minutes.