Semolina (Durum) Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Dough Yield: About


    loaves at 1.5 lb each

Appears in


By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

The Sponge in this Bread is Unusual: It is an old-fashioned type of sponge, once common in Austria and England, known as a “flying sponge.” I assume that it is “flying” because all the yeast is used in it, and the duration of ripening is usually not much more than 1 hour. It may be, though, that the bakers in the shops of old, having much less to rely on in terms of mechanical equipment compared with the bakers of today, were the ones who were flying! In any case, although a flying sponge might not have all the virtues of a long and gradually fermenting sponge, it does impart a lightness and comparative depth of flour flavor to finished bread.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 40%


Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Durum Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb 50 %
Bread Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb 50 %
Water 12.4 lb 6.2 kg 1 lb, 3.8 oz 62 %
Salt .36 lb .18 kg .6 oz 1.8 %
Yeast .24 lb, fresh .12 kg, fresh .13 oz, instant dry 1.2 %
Sugar .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz 2 %
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz 5 %
Total Yield 34.4 lb 17.2 kg 3 lb, 4 oz 172 %


Durum Flour 4 lb 2 kg 6.4 oz ( cups) 50 %
Bread Flour 4 lb 2 kg 6.4 oz ( cups) 50 %
Water 5.6 lb 2.8 kg 9 oz (1⅛ cups) 70 %
Yeast .24 lb, fresh .12 kg, fresh .13 oz ( tsp) 3 %
Sugar .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz (½ tsp) 5 %
Total 14.24 lb 7.12 kg 1 lb, 6.5 oz

Final Dough

Durum Flour 6 lb 3 kg 9.6 oz (2⅛ cups)
Bread Flour 6 lb 3 kg 9.6 oz ( cups)
Water 6.8 lb 3.4 kg 10.8 oz (1⅜ cups)
Salt .36 lb .18 kg .6 oz (1 T)
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 1 lb .5 kg 1.6 oz (3 T)
Sponge 14.24 lb 7.12 kg 1 lb, 6.5 oz (all of above)
Total 34.4 lb 17.2 kg 3 lb, 4 oz


  1. Sponge: Mix the durum flour, bread flour, water, yeast, and sugar on first speed until evenly incorporated. The sponge will be fairly loose. Since the ripening is accomplished in a short time, a sponge temperature of 78° to 80°F is required. The sponge is ripe after about 1¼ hours, when it is on the verge of collapse.
  2. Mixing: Add all the ingredients, including the sponge, to the mixing bowl. In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed for 3 minutes in order to incorporate the ingredients. Correct the dough consistency as necessary. Turn the mixer to second speed and mix for another 2½ to 3 minutes. The dough should be of medium consistency, but with perceptible dough strength and gluten development. Desired dough temperature: 76°F.
  3. Bulk Fermentation: 1½ hours.
  4. Folding: Fold the dough after 45 minutes of bulk fermentation.
  5. Dividing and Shaping: Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces (or make rolls with smaller pieces). Preshape lightly into rounds and place on a lightly floured work surface, seams up. Cover the rounds with plastic. When the dough has relaxed sufficiently (10 to 20 minutes), shape it into tight round or oval loaves. For a variation, the top of the loaves can be pressed into a damp cloth and then into a tray of raw sesame seeds. Place the loaves into floured bannetons or on lightly floured baker’s linen and cover with plastic.
  6. Final Fermentation: Approximately 1 to 1¼ hours at 75°F.
  7. Baking: Invert the risen loaves onto the loading conveyor or peel. Score the loaves as desired. Presteam the oven, load the bread, and steam again. Bake at 460°F. Open the oven vents after the loaves show color, in order to finish the bake in a drying oven. Loaves scaled at 1.5 pounds will bake in 35 to 40 minutes.