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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pugliese - The quest for durum flour was over, I finally found it!

Semolina flour (durum flour) was something that eluded me. It felt almost unattainable. I bought a number of bags of fine semolina thinking that they were durum flour. For some reasons, every time I saw fine semolina, I kept thinking that I had found what I had been searching for, durum flour, and kept forgetting that I already had few bags sitting in the pantry.

See, it was confusing as I had never seen semolina flour before and I thought that there was no such thing in Australia. A search on Wikipedia made it even more confusing as it stated that semolina comes from durum wheat. Hence, I convinced myself (and my workmate who also wished to make semolina sandwich bread) that fine semolina was durum flour.

Until, a member of The Fresh Loaf website pointed out to me that fine semolina was not durum flour. Fine semolina is gritty and white. Durum flour is yellow and has flour-like consistency (very very fine).

Fine semolina on left and durum flour on the right

I finally came across durum flour at Italian grocer/pizzeria where we had lunch a week earlier (the quest was over J). I was very excited and could hardly keep myself together. I felt like a kid with a new toy to play with, a new flour to try with bread making.  The flour was imported from Italy and packaged as “Semola”. There is no English on the package and I had to make a guess if it was durum flour. Part of the bag was transparent, so I could see that the flour was yellowish as a confirmation that it was it! Yaay, DURUM FLOUR!   

Durum flour I found at an Italian grocer in Mornington Peninsula

I made few semolina breads from Hamelman’s Bread cookbook several times using fine semolina even though the recipe called for durum flour. Fine semolina worked fine in those recipes, the loaves turned out nicely. However, I wouldn’t know what the differences durum flour would make to those breads if it was used instead of fine semolina. I’ll have to try it to find out, but not today. Today is the day for Pugliese (pronounced pool-yee-ay-zee).

Pugliese is a rustic bread from the town called Pulgia in the south of Italy. It is usually made with durum flour, wheat flour and mashed potato. The bread resembles ciabatta but it is made with durum flour instead of all wheat flour. My flour mixture was 40% durum flour and 60% wheat flour (in baker’s percentage and taking into account the wheat flour in biga built).

This recipe contained large amount of liquid. The hydration is 77% (amount of liquid against the total flour in the recipe) plus more liquid from mashed potato. The real hydration level could very well be around 85% if taking into account water that mashed potato contributes to the dough.

This is the first time I worked with such wet and slack dough. The real hydration (amount of liquid against the total flour in the recipe) could be close to 90% as I put twice the amount of potato into the dough (200 g or about 20% of total flour). It was a challenge to work with and fascinating at the same time. The dough started off as a pancake-like texture, which was impossible to knead. I had to employ the stretch-and-fold in the bowl technique to strengthen the dough structure. It was amazing to see how the dough structure was changing after each stretch-and-fold. It started become stronger, more elastic and more cohesive. It is a true wonder of wheat and makes bread making so fascinating.

The sructure chaged from slack and pancake-like structure to strong well developed dough

It was nice bread with moist, tender and chewy crumbs, which could be the result of potato and high level of liquid in the recipe. The crumb reminds me of a crumpet with its the taste, texture and colours. It got distinctive aroma of durum, which is different from wheat. The bread flavours also developed the next day. I quite like this bread and would love to try making them with sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast, which I believe could produce better and more complex flavour.

Pugliese Recipe
adapted from Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Makes 2 large loaves

Overall Formula
Baker’s Percentage
Bread flour
560 g
Durum flour
374 g
16 g
Instant yeast
10 g
716 g
Mashed potato
114 g
1.83 kg

Note: I broke down Biga recipe into ingredients in Baker’s Percentage so that I know the true hydration ratio for the bread.

Biga Ingredients

Bread Flour 366 g
Instant Yeast 4 g (1 heap teaspoon)
Water 246 g
Total 616 g
Note: Biga is approx 34% of total dough weight.

Final dough Ingredients

Biga 616 g
Fancy durum flour 374 g
Bread flour 194 g
Salt 16 g
Instant yeast 6 g (2 teaspoons)
Water 470 g
Mashed potatoes 114 g

Note: Peter Rienhart suggested the combination of durum flour and bread flour at the ratio of your choice. He suggested 50-50. However, when taking into consideration the biga, if using 50-50 combination, durum flour percentage would fall to 30% in the overall formula. My durum flour/bread flour combination in the final dough is 65-35 (durum-bread flour).

Making biga (a day in advance)

Stir together the flour and yeast. Add water and stir until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball. Knead for 4 -6 minutes by hand or mix on medium speed for 4 mins. The dough will be soft and pliable, not sticky.

Leave the dough ferment for at room temp for 2 to 4 hours or until it nearly doubles in size.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it lightly to degas and return it to the bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight.

Making final dough

Remove the biga from the fridge 1 hour before making the dough. Cut it into about 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or a serrated knife. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hours to take off the chill.

Stir together the flour, salt and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in a bowl of an electric mixer). Add the biga pieces, mashed potatoes, and 1 cup of the water. Using a large metal spoon (or on low speed with the paddle attachment), mix until the ingredients form a wet, sticky ball. If there is still some loose flour, add the additional water as needed and continue to mix.

If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hand or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 4 -5 mins, or for as long it take to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is still very sticky against the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in a little more flour (either type) until it clears the sides. Don't be alarmed if the dough seems very sticky. The wetter it is, the better the final bread will be.

Let it rest for 30 minutes in the bowl covered with plastic bag. Do stretch-and-fold in the bowl every 30 minutes during the three-hour fermentation.

To do S&F in the bowl, dip your hand in water, lifting the dough up and fold into itself, rotating the bowl, and continue with the lifting and folding, until you complete the whole round. Using a dough scraper, gently turn the dough upside down so that the seams will now be underneath.

Generously dust the counter with flour. Remove the plastic bag and, with hands and a bowl scraper dipped in flour, transfer the dough to the counter, taking care not to degas the dough any more than necessary. With a metal pastry scraper that has been dipped into flour, or a serrated knife dusted with flour, divide the dough into 2 pieces. Again dipping your hands into flour, gently shape the dough pieces into two boules.

Gently transfer the dough, seam side up, into proofing bowls (make sure you dust the proofing bowl with lots of flour to prevent it from sticking as these are relatively wet dough). If the seam opens up, pinch it closed. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and cover the bowls plastic bag or tea towels.

Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough has expanded to about 1 1/2 times its original size.

Preheat oven to highest temperature.

Bake at 250C  for the first 5 minutes. Baking with steam for the first 15 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 230C and bake for further 35 – 40 minutes until they are well browned. Turn the loaves half-way through baking for even baking.  

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting.

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