Recipe: 60% Durum Wheat Flour (Semolina) Ciabatta Sandwich Rolls

Ciabatt-ahhhhhhhh! Those pillows of airy goodness. I make basic ciabatta (just AP flour) almost as much as I make baguettes. They’re so light with a crispy crust. You can eat them plain, or with some butter, or dip them in good olive oil… Just puts a smile on my face. But despite loving to make them so much, I wanted to see what they’d be like with a flour blend.

Then it hit me that the other Italian bread I love to make is Pane di Altamura. That recipe uses an 80/20 Durum/AP Flour blend that’s absolutely delicious. So I decided to do a version of ciabatta that uses Durum wheat flour.

About Semolina…

Durum wheat ground up into flour is commonly called Semolina. But you can’t just use any semolina flour off the shelf as that is typically too coarse for making dough. You have to be sure that it’s ground fine to extra-fine. I get my Durum from Azure Standard. This is actually a high-extraction version of their Semolina that has a lot of the sharp bits of bran sifted out after milling. I use it for making bread and pasta!

Overall Formula

AP Flour

Final Dough

AP Flour377g
Total Yield1212g
6 X ~200g loaves
Optimal Dough Temp80ºF

Initial Mix/Autolyse. Mix all the flour and all but 50g of the water together in a large bowl. Autolyse for an hour. Semolina is a very hard wheat and benefits from an autolyse.

Final Mix. Sprinkle the yeast and salt over the dough, then add the reserved water. Work the water, salt, and yeast into the dough until fully incorporated.

Bulk Fermentation. 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

NOTE: You’ll do two folds in the first hour, separated by 30 minutes.

First Folding. After 30 minutes, stretch and fold the dough using a wet hand. With a dough this wet, you need to be very gentle with the folding to ensure you don’t tear it while stretching. Stretch and fold until the dough no longer wants to be stretched.

Second Fold. Generously flour your work surface to prevent any sticking, then pour the dough out of your bowl and use your scraper if any dough sticks – you want to minimize tearing. Using quick movements, tug the dough from underneath into a rough rectangle. Then working in an N-S-E-W pattern, letter fold the dough by stretching a side, then pulling it over the dough mass. Once the pattern is complete, gently pat the dough down to flatten it, then repeat the letter folding pattern. If any side sticks, use your scraper to push flour underneath the dough. Once the second letter fold is complete, roll the dough onto the seams, then work it into a nice taut round. Transfer the round to a well-oiled bowl, seam-side-down. Allow the dough to expand about 50% of its original size after folding.

From this point on, the keyword for handling the dough is: gentle. Semolina flour-based dough is extremely delicate and will easily degas.

Divide and Shape. Slide the dough out onto a well-floured surface and gently tug it into a rough rectangle. Divide the dough into 200g pieces. You can then just tug the individual pieces into sandwich roll rectangles. Myself, I like to letter fold the pieces then using my fingertips, dimple the pieces and work them into sandwich roll rectangles. Once done with shaping a piece, transfer it to a well-floured couche or appropriate cloth for final fermentation.

Final Fermentation. 30-45 minutes. Rolls will be ready when they’re puffy and slightly billowy.

Bake. Transfer rolls to a baking sheet or transfer board, then dust lightly with flour. Bake at 460ºF for 15 minutes with steam. After 15 minutes, remove the steaming container, then bake until deep golden brown (about 10-15 minutes).


4 thoughts on “Recipe: 60% Durum Wheat Flour (Semolina) Ciabatta Sandwich Rolls

  1. Waving hello again 🙂
    My last couple of bakes were Pane Altamura such a superb bread!
    Next up I thought of Ciabatta, one of my favourite breads.
    And, up you pop on my radar again. Chuckles.
    Just a heads up for folk. A lot of the Semolina Durum sold in the States is from a Durum variety specifically bred for Pasta. I have seen at least one famous American mill marketing it for pasta and adding, ‘suitable for bread too’. Generally it isn’t. Canada in particular is a major world grower of pasta durum. Italian Durum Flour is usually a variety more suited to bread.
    Thanks for another great recipe and explanation.
    Wishing you a great Thanks Giving.

    • FWIW – I shape on a baking tray and put the whole baking tray in the oven – I get less degassing that way.
      Also, I add 2% olive oil – It increases the keeping qualities of the breads.

      • Kevin, that’s awesome to hear! You’re right about most durum flour sold in stores is mainly suited for pasta, but the semolina I get from Azure standard has worked incredibly well for me. You might want to check it out. And if you do get some, make sure to get the Ultra Unifine which is a much finer flour. But irrespective of the brand you use, I found doing at least an hour autolyse helps a lot as it gives the flour time to absorb water. This will make for a much softer and pliable dough. When I bake with this particular semolina, my hydration level is in the 90% range. It might seem pretty wet, but you can work it like you would an 80% dough.

      • Hi
        Thanks for coming back.
        I live in the U.K. though. So here it is easier just to buy Italian Ramicinata.
        The stuff I generally use is about right at 70% hydration for a loaf and 80% for ciabatta. I suspect that is because it is a lower protein than your brand. It’s from a small mill in Northern Italy who specialise in milling older varieties of grain. Having said that I see no advantage with it from say Caputo, so I might just switch to that. It’s far cheaper.

        Thanks for this site. It’s always a great visit for me.

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