Semolina flour comes from Durum wheat, which is thought to have originated in the southern parts of the Mediterranean basin, or possibly in Abyssinia.
It was cultivated in Byzantine Egypt, where it was used for making dishes like cous cous and tabbouleh. When milled into flour, it is used for breads and pasta. It is a very 'hard' wheat too, so artisan bakers also use it for 'dusting' - a term used to describe sprinkling on top of unbaked moulded dough as a decoration.
We also use semolina under moulded doughs, as it helps us get the baker's peel under them for sole baking - it's like little marbles!
Semolina is widely used for making cakes and porridges, as well as noodles. It is also used in breads, mainly blended with breadmaking wheats, as its protein is strong but not particularly stretchy.
It has found its way into Chinese, Arab and Turkish cuisines. The range of its uses is quite broad, as its high protein content means that a little goes a long way in any food type.
Grades of Semolina
Semolina flour comes in various grades, which could be roughly categorised into coarse, fine and superfine grades.
Coarse grade semolina flour is used for dusting bread, baking trays and canvases. It is also used for porridge and as a thickener for soups and sauces.
Fine grade semolina flour is used in pasta and as a component of breads, particularly flat breads. It is sometimes used in pastries and middle eastern treats like baklava.
Superfine grade semolina flour is used in pastries, cakes, desserts and as a component of certain breads.
Other common breadmaking ingredients in this section include:
Wheat flour - history, uses and grades
Rye flour - tips for using and links to recipes
Spelt flour - history and why it's good to use in breadmaking
Salt - grades and its importance in breadmaking
Semolina Bread Recipes
Semolina flour can be used in a variety of recipes which normally would use plain flour. Try it at 10% of the total flour weight (you also have to reduce the regular flour weight by the same amount).
If you are finding this is making the bread too chewy, try soaking the semolina as a paste with hot water beforehand until it cools, then mix with the flour and water in the dough as you normally would.
If you like the texture, some breads can handle as much as 50%.
Happy Sourdough Baking!