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Eye opening techniques

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ehanner's picture
ehanner

Eye opening techniques

I know when I first started baking I nodded dutifully when I was told to knead until the dough will pass the window pain test. If you can't stretch a piece until it is translucent and you can see light through it, knead some more. This advice is found through out the industry help and how to books and is considered to be a core understanding by many. Far be it for me who is a lowly novice in terms of time in the flour bin to question the conventional wisdom, however. There are a few misconceptions that have become accepted as gospel that I believe hinder the new baker and for that matter any baker who wants to truly understand what their potential is in the kitchen. The techniques I address here are not my ideas or content. These things were presented to me by others here on the forum in pieces over the last few years and together represent the basis of my capability today.


The first bit of advice I have is to stop what ever you are doing and watch this video. If you're like me it will take a few times to get the hang of what the poster is doing. This is Richard Bertinet doing a demo for Gourmet magazine. He is making a sweet dough but it doesn't matter. The technique is key. When I learned this move and method of handling dough, my results instantly went from unpredictable to reliable. 10 or maybe 15 seconds with your hands in the dough and that's it, you're done. No more kneading is required. You might do a couple folds every 20-30 minutes during the primary ferment. This will work with sourdough or yeasted recipes and white or whole wheat with the caveat that WW will need a fold or two during the ferment. Once I learned to do the French Fold, I have rarely used my mixer. When you understand how the dough is supposed to feel with your own fingers it is much easier to produce a dough that will perform to your expectations.


Further EDIT: A regular contributor to this forum has produced some really terrific video training aids that can be seen HERE. Mark Sinclair is the owner of The Back Home Bakery in Kalispell Montana. He is remarkably clear in the message he sends about how to handle several dough types and shaping.
Mark demonstrates how easily you can mix, stretch and fold and shape dough. His style is easy to follow and well done. I highly recommend you take a look at these instructional videos. He just posted a new video on shaping a high hydration baguette that is excellent. Many of his recipes are search-able here or if you email him he will probably send them to you. His bakery products are beautiful and the photography is inspirational.


Mark now has 2 DVD's for sale that take you from end to end with 3 different breads and another on technique. There are lots of places to get information on how bake good breads. Marks Video's are reasonable and very helpful to the new baker.


There is another video that should be included is the Julia Child/Daniel Forester baguette demonstration. This is a 2 part video that shows how to put together french bread dough by hand and uses the frisage method. Frisage is something that once seen, always understood. You can read about it repeatedly but it won't make sense until you see it in action. See it http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/free/baguette.html here.


Added by Edit: A great video is now available that I think is the essence of dough handling and shows how easy it is to mix dough without a mixer. If you can chew gum you can make great bread using Richard Bertinet's video HERE.


Secondly, Da Crumb Bum posted a concept that goes against all the common wisdom concerning pre heating your oven and using a stone for a thermal battery. Who hasn't thought that to get good rustic bread one must bake on a pizza stone or a tile surface? There are some instances where a stone and preheat is required like pizza and bread sticks but for the greatest majority of your baking, no stone or preheat is required. A link to the original post is http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1843/no-knead-preheat#comment-12597 . Most are skeptical this will work at first but trust me on this, you won't believe it until you see it with your own eyes. It is expensive to maintain 450F in a steel box both in terms of wasting money and by wasting the energy and resources of our planet. The minimal effect that preheating has on the crust is absolutely not worth the additional energy.


I share these thoughts and techniques as a way of thanking the many posters who have helped me to become at least a competent home artisan baker. The host of The Fresh Loaf (floydm) is top on the list with his lessons and frequent examples of solid baking. Hundreds of community members, posters, are here to answer your question or help with an issue. This is a great site because of the members. Don't be afraid to jump in, we are just like family.


ADDED EDIT:
It's been a while since I made this post and I wanted to come back and add a few things now that I have some experience under my belt.
1.) I still almost never use the mixer. A brief hand mix to break up the dry clumps of flour followed by a 30-60 minute rest and stretch and fold or French folding as per the top video will develop the gluten just fine. Stretch and fold every 30-60 minutes for the duration of the bulk ferments. Time will be your friend here. Be patient. If you use a very small amount of starter for inoculation or yeast, you slow down the bulk ferment. If you increase the hydration slightly, you will find you can fold every 40-60 minutes for about 4 hours. The dough will be perfectly satin smooth and will easily windowpane.


2.) Instead of starting from a cold oven, I now am starting the oven when the dough looks ready and the proof is about done. The dough is proofing on parchment, covered with a floured towel or a moist tea towel. When it looks like the proof is done, turn on the oven. My electric will go to 450 in 7 minutes. Slide the dough in, steam for a great crust. I rotate after 20 minutes.


3.) I think many people over ferment and over proof. Try fermenting for 60 minutes at 78F, shape and proofing for 45-60 minutes. Remember, the warmer it is where your dough ferments, the faster the dough will rise. Temperature matters.


4.) Make your slashes deeper than a 1/4 inch. You might be better to go back and retrace your initial slashes to make them just a little deeper. Be modest in the pattern. Remember what the purpose is of slashing.

5.) Not so much a technique but a suggestion. Adopt a basic formula that you can make in your sleep. Nothing fancy, a basic yeast or sourdough bread your family likes and work from that. You will be surprised at how many different types of bread you can make using your basic master formula by adding one or two ingredients or changing the handling slightly.
Have fun and learn at your own pace. The collective knowledge at The Fresh Loaf is being plugged into your own private baking school.


Eric


"It's not you he wags his tail for, but, your bread".

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

After reading your post, and watching the short video from sourdough-guy (about 5 times) I have a few questions.

Was this dough, or the dough that you make, initially mixed with a mixer or by hand?

Was a pre-ferment used?

I mix all my breads by hand, in a s/s bowl, with a plastic (for a lack of better words) stick. Until all the parts seem fairly incorperated.  At this time however, they in no way look as smooth as the dough shown in the video.  Mine is much more lumpy.  The only time I ever have a dough this wet in looks is if I'm doing a poolish bread, most of my breads not requiring a pre-ferment are much dryer to start.  My breads only start to transform into a single dough mass after about 8 minutes of kneading by hand.  And I knead fairly roughly.  Kneading and folding, folding and kneading, oh and did I mention kneading. ;)

I never (not that I have tons of experience), but never have achieved the window pain thing by hand mixing and kneading.  If memory serves me right (and it often doesn't) I read in one of my books that alot of pro bakers stop short of fully developing the dough on purpose.  I figured if its good for them, it will probably work for me.  And so far it has.  I still knead about 10 minutes or so.  Sometimes as much as 15, sometimes as little as 6 depending on the dough I am working with.  I dont know if this is because everything is by hand, or because its me.  

I do believe that alot of extra hype is placed on rituals.  And the way things "used to be done".  I am all for reading about folks "building a better mousetrap".   Unfortunately I feel all too often folks place unrealistic requirements on things, be it baking, cooking, or beverage to try to make themselves more superior sounding.  If it doesnt really change or enhance the outcome, is it really required?

Anyways, great post Eric.

TT 

 

catpoz's picture
catpoz

Hi TT...  I have to get back to work, but just wanted to respond to your post real quick.  I'm no expert, but I think it has everything to do with what type of flour you're using.  I just started some dough yesterday just experimenting with what type of flour I was using, because I usually always use mostly wheat flour and some sourdough starter and my breads don't usually get that good of a rise.  I used one cup of KA unbleached bread flour and 1/2 cup of water in a small plastic container.  I mixed it together and knead it a little bit.  


I then let it rest for a little while and went back to work.  After about an hour, I went back to it and added a little salt and a little bit (maybe 1/4 tsp) of oil and kneaded it a little more.  The only way I get that window-pane effect is when I use a little bit of oil.  It's really easy to handle and actually is fun to handle.  I think this dough is perfect to make pizza, which is what I'm going to wind up using the dough for.  


I like experimenting with small batches of flour/water/dough.  Try it. *s*

caryn's picture
caryn

Thank you, ehanner for consolodating for us a lot of worthwhile information in one place! 

I do have a question, however.  At the beginning of your comment, you mention the window pane test.  So do you or others think this is accurate or a myth?  I always worry that I am trying to pass that test at the expense of flavor: there is a theory that over-kneading diminishes the flavor of bread.

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Does the dough go through an autolyse first?  Is the fold done only once?  Does the dough rest again for any length of time before shaping?

Forgive me if I missed these details.  I've watched the video too, but it's not clear to me when exactly this step is to be done.  Thanks!

Sue 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Sue,  first mix then wait a few minutes, then frisage, then wait 45 minutes for the dough to soak and autolyse and soften up. Now do the French Fold for 4-6 repetitions or until it looks like the video. Then, Bulk ferment for as long as it takes to double. Then divide, shape, form and proof.

Eric

DrPr's picture
DrPr

Forgive me, but I'm confused about the term you use, "frisage."  It is my understanding that frisage (fraisage) is the mixing of the dough by smearing it on your mixing surface using the heel of your palm.  You're saying there are two different mixing techniques basically, right?  I think I may try this with my next loaf, if I understand it propery.


(Edited to say: NEVERMIND- someone else explains that further down!.  Thanks!)  :-D

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Well, I just went back to the video and read the Written Instructions link.  Hmmm, nothing like RTFM, eh?  Never mind.

Sue 

Susan's picture
Susan

Appreciate your ability to see through the clutter and make it work.
I made a little ~2-cup loaf last Saturday evening, baked it COLD out of the fridge because I awoke very late, and, lo and behold, it may be the best loaf I ever baked. We just cut into the very middle of it today, and it just keeps getting better and better.  I used SD-G's uber-recipe, and Eric's beautiful bread kept pushing me: Come-on, Susan, you can do it!
I have a SD starter sitting here on the counter, hoping I will get it going enough to leave it here in the fridge for my next visit.
Susan

ehanner's picture
ehanner

First of all, I can't speak for Sourdough-guy but I would bet he doesn't use a mixer ever for a single batch. Why would you? It takes longer and makes a mess. I know you thought it was messier to use your hands. So did I when I first started. Get a big bowl (4L) if you don't want to make a mess on the counter. Buy a dough whisk from King Arthur or some other mail order. They look weird but I can whip together a double batch of 1800 grams weight in about 3 minutes with no mess.

Next there is another video you should watch. http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/free/baguette.html

It is a Julia Childs segment where Danielle Forester demonstrates how to make Batards the French way. The way she puts the dough together is an eye opener. Watch closely how she does the "Frisage" (SP) and breaks up the flour clumps into a smooth mass. She is using live yeast but it works with all dough and I do it every single time. My dough is always nice and silky like the video. Later they do the kneading which is hilarious on it's face. Danielle claims she slaps the dough 850 times before it is right. Nonsense is giving them a break. Just learn to do a frishage and see how easy it is to put together a batch on the counter. You won't be the same after. In fact I know a baker in Colorado who bakes 200 loaves a day pretty much by him self and last I knew he didn't even have a mixer. It's just flour, you can learn how it should feel, easily.

So, without complicating things.

  1. Mix the ingredients together just so the flour is all wet. The mix in the video looks like about 65% which is a usual basic dough.
  2. Dump the dough onto the counter after 5 or so minutes and do a frisage with the heel of your hand. Scrape the dough together, form a rough ball and back into the same bowl. No oil needed really.
  3. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag or towel or plastic film if money is no object and wait 30-45 minutes. The dough will finish saturating and become more slack.
  4. Dump the dough back on the counter and do the French fold. Watch the movie again and have fun with this. 4-6 times should be plenty to arrive at the quality that Sourdough-guy gets in his video. You won't believe how well the dough develops in such a short time. Notice how he stretches left and right first then slap and roll up the ends, this is magic!
  5. Now knead for 15 minutes--Just kidding! Please, no more kneading!
  6. cover the bowl again and wait for the bulk ferment depending on what you are doing (yeast/sourdough) more inoculation or yeast means shorter ferment less flavor. If you use SDG's basic formula for example a 12 hour ferment is expected but temp and activity of the starter will dictate how long for a double rise.
  7. Gently remove dough from bowl with plastic scraper and divide, rest for 5 minutes and form for final proof.
  8. Place dough on parchment paper and slide in oven on a sheet pan. Place a cup of boiling water in the back of the oven with the dough and close the door to proof. Turn on the light.
  9. When proofed, remove water cup, slash and bake as normal from cold.
  10. Expect maybe 10 minutes longer bake times when starting from cold.

Mountaindog and jmonkey have shown us how important it is to ford during primary ferment. I would defer to them and bwrath about folding when using whole wheat. I will say this, folding works way way better than burning out your mixer trying to auto mix WW doughs.

I didn't mean for this to be so long but it seemed like I left a few holes in my descriptions.

Try it out and let me know if you have questions. Also, those of you who actually taught me how to do this stuff, don't be bashful, jump in.

Eric

erina's picture
erina

Eric, thanks for the posting.I tried your method to make my first no-knead baguettes and it worked so well, until I baked the baguettes. They came out gorgeous brown-crusted, but the slashes were gone, like my failed baguettes from BBA pain l'ancienne recipe. So far I have made copious amount of cold-oven no-knead sourdough boules etc with great results and the slashes were pronounced and crumbs were crackly and crunchy.

I wondered if I had preheated the oven the result would have come out differently? Had you compared the cold oven and preheated oven results? Thanks.

-E-

ehanner's picture
ehanner

erina, glad your baguettes turned out so well. When I see my oven spring has been so powerful to make the slashes almost disappear, I think two things must be happening. First, maybe I didn't proof quite long enough and second maybe the slashes were a little shallow. Try an experiment on your next similar loaf and make half of your slashes twice as deep. You can go back and re-cut if you are careful.

I'm happier when I have a big oven spring even if the slash marks are gone. Then you know the bread will be airy and full of holes.

Please let us know what you find with your experiments.

Eric

erina's picture
erina

Eric, thanks for your info. The baguettes actually taste great; the crust is golden; and the crumb was like it was meant to be. Now I wondered why people actually have to knead (slap and quarter turn) for 15 minutes. Currently I am experimenting with making a dough batch with the old method. I will let you know the difference once they are out of the oven. I also still wondered about the cold vs hot ove method. I will experiment and get back to you with the results. Thanks!

DrPr's picture
DrPr

Oh, I wish I had seen your comment earlier!  I was confused about the mixing and the subsequent fraisage. Thanks for writing that out.

NYamateur's picture
NYamateur

i definitley want to try that out, Ive never heard of starting in a cold oven before.  
As far as the "french fold" technique is concerned I completely agree with you, it awesome,   I first learned that on a King Arthur video I bought a while ago and it has really improved the strength of my super-hydrated doughs on top of making life a lot easier.  another thing have found that helps a ton is to stir the dough.  I combine everthing together in the bowl leaving out half of the flour.  Basically I make a batter and then I beat the heck out of it for a minute or so, before adding in the rest of the flour and performing the fold/kneading.  

redivyfarm's picture
redivyfarm

in my kitchen because although I have been folding, I didn't get the stretching part. I love the video and seeing the slack dough get tension and substance in a matter of seconds. It is mesmerizing! Thanks very much for posting this useful collection of techniques.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I feel a little cheap here because none of this is original work from myself. I would love to say I had something to do with the development of the French Fold but it is all Sourdough-guy. It is magical isn't it.

Eric

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

I thought I recognized SD guy's communication style. Ebanner, thanks for gathering these lessons into one post.

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey Eric

Great post.  You always hear about kneading until a window pane can be made.  I tried for the better part of a year and still could not get the perfect window pane.  I then went to folding which by the way is wayyyyyyy underemphasized in every bread book I have ever read and I have read my share.  This is in my humble opinion the greatest technique I have ever learned and I wish I had known about it sooner.  The results on an even super wet dough are for lack of a better word magic.  It can turn any dough into a no knead.  Why is this technique not more mainstream I cannot understand.  Thanks for a great informational post.

Da Crumb Bum

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Yes and thank you for converting me on preheating. This whole thing just came to me while looking at the forum posts the other night. Everyone is struggling with similar issues and the forum board moves so quickly that everything is gone unless you know to search for it. I just thought I would take a stab at giving peeps the chance to see things together as a mural so to speak. There are many moving values in play here and the more predictable we can make it the better for Artisan Bread movement.

Sourdough-guy is tuned up and creating great content for some of us knot heads that need help so this looked like the perfect time to get it out.

After all if No Knead Bread can catch the worlds attention for crying out loud you know there are budding Artisan bakers who will become bored with the baked glop in a bucket routine eventually.

Eric

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I feel ashamed, in NO way did I mean for you to think I was speaking of you when bringing up the "people making themselves important" part.  I was meaning the people who write and publish these books. 

Not to be so obvious as to my kissing of your butt, but I have the UTMOST respect for you and your baking skills.  Heck, I love learning new tricks.  I was trying to relay that I feel alot of books Ive read try putting too much emphasis on rediculous tasks.  When it could be done much easier (like you have shown). 

I am not always the best with words, and for that I apologize.  But no slight was intended toward you or anyone here on this thread.

TT

bwraith's picture
bwraith

TT,

I've felt much the same as you after coming to this site. So many people have contributed great ideas that can drastically simplify the process or that make a big difference in the outcome. It is strange that many of the really key techniques are hidden away in hard-to-find places, when we have all those great books. The books were incredibly helpful as I got started, but what I've picked up from various people on this site has made a huge difference. No question, I've gone almost mixerless and found myself getting good gluten development and nice rises with sinfully little effort after learning the ideas contributed here.

Eric, thanks for summarizing some of the key techniques. It helps to see more of it in one place.

SD-guy, your posts have been a big help to me, especially regarding sourdough. Many thanks to JMonkey, SourdoLady, Mountaindog, Ehanner, Zolablue, browndog5, Bart, and many others - and of course, floydm, for all the great ideas.

You inhabitants of thefreshloaf.com are THE BEST.

Bill

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Eric, very nice synopsis of some of the great things this site has brought forward. I agree with you, I've never bothered about the windowpane test either, because I knew I'd be fermenting my doughs longer. Even though I still use a mixer a lot for big batches, I don't mix for very long at all, and you are right, one can easily do without one as long as you are willing to let time do the work, it's all a balancing act between amount of starter, temp, and time, as SD Guy has stated many times. Folding was a big revelation to me as well. To be fair to bread book authors, though, I think most come from the background of a professional kitchen, where consistent results are needed on a larger scale, often with less ability to play with time and temp variables. I admit I have been very skeptical of the no-preheat method, as I like those dark crispy crusts, but with warmer weather almost here I will certainly give it a try.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks Mountaindog, well put. It does seem to me that there are few absolutes in baking when there should be. The day I learned the French Fold maneuver it suddenly dawned on me that knowing how to develop gluten strings and knowing how it felt when it happened was a breakthrough. This was a turning point for me. It took me a while to trust it and not continue to knead just for old time sake.

With WW breads I think I get better results from folding during the bulk ferment a few times and letting the ferment go on for 24 hours at high hydration. I still do the FF when I have some development after the bulk ferment.

I hope the gist of the compilation stays visible for a while so people will not forget it as it slips down the page, tomorrow.

Eric

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey Eric and Co.

I just finished watching the Julia Childs video.  I plan on trying the going mixerless method this weekend.  I was wondering if you use her  technique for forming your batards?  My first impression watching Daniel form her loaves was dang she puts the smack down on that dough.  Not only does she punch down after primary she rolls and seals and rolls some more, you get the idea.  It did look like she had a fairly decent crumb after all that handling.  I try to be so careful to degas as little as possible maybe a little too careful?  I am forming the theory that if your dough is developed fully you can "lean on it" and the large bubbles will break but the dough will still be full of smaller gas pockets that will enlarge during final proofing.  There was no doubt that she gets allot of surface tension on her loaves.  This is something I have trouble with and need to figure out. 

Isn't it cool that to make great bread you don't need any fancy tools or gadgets or even kneading, just flour, water, yeast, salt, good technique (The Fold), and  most important patience to take the time to let the dough do its thing.  I wish all my hobbys were this simple and inexpensive. 

Da Crumb Bum   

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hi Crumb Bum, What I come away with from that video is that the dough will come together very well by manual means. Clearly the exercise she gets slapping 850 times is unnecessary. She does get good strength but I think SD-Guy has shown that it isn't necessary to beat the tar out of the dough to get holes. I mean look at the No Knead craze. Granted that's not a Batard shape or any kind of free formed shape but the crust and crumb are good.

I hope Floyd will give some thought to making some of these aids and concepts part of his training sessions. The board moves so fast that in a week these thoughts will only be known by us.

Eric

JenT's picture
JenT

Thank you for compiling all of this great information in one thread.  I, too, have neveer gotten the window pane and have given up on it completely.  I've never attempted the French Fold technique exhibited by sourdoughguy but I have saved this thread and hope to do some experimenting next time I bake bread.

jkm's picture
jkm

 

 

 please the link is broken, i really want to see this, or please describe?

email link to jkm343@yahoo.com

i love to bake and love this forum, the cold oven works like a dream, as does cold dough from the fridge.

quesion, does the dough have to sit 30 plus minutes? I had heard, seen 15 minutes.

cheers justine

ehanner's picture
ehanner

That link is broken and I don't know where to find it at the moment.

Eric

Cooky's picture
Cooky

These are from Mike Avery's instructions, which I believe are very similar. He breaks down the process beginning with the ingredients mix.

 


http://www.sourdoughhome.com/stretchandfold.html

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I kept clicking on the link and getting a Not Found message.  I went to the site via other means, and I couldn't figure out why your link wasn't working when it was exactly the same.  Then I realized that there's an extra invisible character (space?) on the end.

 In other words, if you take the link in Cooky's post and chop off whatever is after .html it works.

Rosalie

ehanner's picture
ehanner

This should work for Mike Avery's Sourdough Home training video. He has some good lessons on dough handling. The stretch and fold is NOT the French Fold however.

http://www.sourdoughhome.com/stretchandfold.html

Eric

jkm's picture
jkm

i have been baking since i was a child, last five years trying all sorts of things.so i loved this post, willing to try it all.

I made a 2 cup h20 , 4 cup flour dough,  splash of olive oil, let it rest 35 mins for hydration, it didn't respond to the french fold, just a tight undeveloped  mess.  still have not been able to load the video... but am guessing french fold is a lot like a ciabatta fold, just tighter..

so i had five mins before my client came, so i picked up the dough and slammed it on the counter, a la julia childs video,

I beat it four of five times before rolling and folding, smash, smask, i beat it into a long baggette shape, then rolled.

so i did that about ten times, dough looked a lot better! almost french folded,

then I rememberd i had use two cups of whole  wheat, so I beat it a few more times,

total twenty - 2- minutes, of easy arm slam

 I rose it slow, rolled it into a long tight bageete shape , realized I had to get it baked ,let it sit for 25 mins it  baked nice with nice crumb for only one rise! great oven spring. 

so that works well, perhaps i will call it the "flying french fold" ha

cheers

 got the video loaded, sooo cool!!! thanks to everyone!

the hydration thing isn't working well for me, but looking at the f fold, my dough was much drier yesterday, that king aurthur WW,

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Developing gluten is or can be an art form. Somewhere between the Julia video where they do the slam fest and stretching and folding and no kneading, is the place to be. The video on Mike Avery's site isn't French Folding. That's a completely different thing. I am going to try to get one made myself and post it here. I don't think I could describe it in words, sorry. The very simple French Fold is amazing in it's simplicity. In just a few seconds you can dramatically improve the available gluten in even very slack dough.

Eric

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I found the Julia Child video to be intimidating.  There were so many steps, and they had to be done just so.  Maybe it's because the techniques were not familiar to me, but that video would not inspire me to start baking, that's for sure.  So anyone who can provide a simplification of it would be appreciated very much, thank you.

Rosalie

Cooky's picture
Cooky

Rosale, I know what you mean about the Danielle Forestier videos. It is an exacting kind of technique, in that very French way (keeping in mind that a lot of that stuff is actually a matter of law over there. They take their bread mighty seriously.)

I have watched it several times and found it useful to basically look at it as a a collection of separate steps, then ignore the ones I can't or won't use (850 slams, ha!). I don't use fresh yeast, for instance, so her excellent demonstration of how to rub it into the flour is interesting but irrelevant for me.

Her method of shaping the loaves, on the other hand, has helped me hugely. I also found it useful just to observe the texture of her dough, which is stiffer than what I had been making, but still yielded wonderful hole-y crumb. Plus, I have taken to heart her reminder that "there is no (exact) formula for water" in the dough because the flour is a little different every time. 

So, I'd say take it for what it's worth to you, not as immutable gospel. 

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

ehanner's picture
ehanner

When I first watched that video I saw a few things that I had heard or read about but didn't understand. One was the Fresage technique. The idea of rubbing the lumps out of the dough with the heel of your hand and developing a smooth dough was a life changing moment for me. It was at that moment that I realized how easy it is to mix dough by hand. In fact I rarely use the mixer anymore since I discovered how much easier and faster it is to use a dough whisk and my hands. Like Cooky said above, There are a few things you need to get from these training videos. Not everything applies to what you are trying to learn but find something interesting and remember it.

Eric

Cooky's picture
Cooky

Frissage provided a turning point in my baking life too, Eric. Years ago, I read a description of it in a Julia Child cookbook chapter on pie crusts. That was the first time in my life I was ever able to make a crust come out with that dreamy, flaky-tender texture. I don't bake pies often anymore, but when I do, I fall back on that lesson I learned from Julia and it still works miraculously.

 

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

renoles's picture
renoles

Seeing all this put together is really helpful. It's sort of consolidated things I've been noting in my baking the past few weeks. I wonder if every baker gets these epiphanies..."So this is how they did it before mixers..." I have a KitchenAid in storage but it looks like even when I retrieve it it'll be for making cakes and batter breads...mixing by hand seems to be a way for me to make better bread.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I don't know if every one gets to the point where they regress out of frustration and park the mixer. I suspect that a lot of new bakers don't get to the point where they understand how the dough should feel and what to do about it. Frustrated and not knowing how to improve with a machine they get bogged down and can't take the next step up that ladder. That's why I posted this thread. If a person starts with a basic bread formula and yeast and mixes by hand, develops by hand, stretches and folds and feels the gluten building, well how can you not feel the magic? Once you understand the dough, your hooked and will love baking because your results will be consistently great.

Thanks for your comments and we look forward to seeing your work.

Eric

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Eric,

I just posted a blog entry for a sourdough whole grain sandwich bread. It was exceedingly easy to make the dough, as it required no mixer and no "real" kneading, and really created very little mess at all. I mixed the ingredients in a bowl with a plastic dough scraper for about 2 minutes, let soak overnight, then mixed in the levain, salt, and oil with the "fraisage" or whatever we are calling it (spelling a mystery too), then used the "French Fold" (not sure of this term either, really) for literally about 10 seconds (I provided a video), and then folded it another 3 times on the hour (provided a video). All these take only minutes per maneuver and make almost no mess at all. I found it particularly easy - not sticky and easy to clean - to do most of these maneuvers with wet hands and a wet counter.

Again, thanks for gathering these techniques in one spot. I used almost everything on this thread and found around this site for that bread, and it really is a pleasure, just as you say. The feel you get for the quality of the gluten as it develops in the dough is invaluable, I agree. It's even more true as I've tried different types of flours and have realized how different the feel of the dough is depending on the types of flours used.

Bill

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Bill you are the master!! Once again you have assembled all the details in a very clean professional way to demonstrate your bread. My wife commented that "He's so clean in the kitchen" you're making me look bad here!:>)

Good thought as to the placement of your post also. From the looks of the thread many people are finding the basic eye opening techniques thread and learning good methods.

Your whole grain loaves really look good Bill. I'll give that combination a try. Thanks!

Eric

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Eric,

You don't know how much it pleases me to know your wife thought it was very clean. That was one of the points I was trying to make. I think that these techniques get you away from messy flour covered sticky hands and counter covered with thick paste that dries and practically petrifies. With the wet hands and counter, the "French Fold" and then the regular "Folding", I've been able to almost completely clean the small amount of flour and water on the counter by wiping with my wet hands and following up with a sponge. There's almost no residual flour. Later with the folding, I'm still dusting with flour, but it's such a small amount, and by then, the dough is more developed and much less sticky. I still use wet hands just to avoid sticking to the dough. The flour on the counter can be scraped off in a few strokes with a metal straight edge dough scraper and then wiped with a wet sponge to get it clean in a just seconds.

Bill

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

I bought a heavy duty mixer, mainly for breadmaking. I even planned a mixer lift in my island. Now I am seriously considering not installing that lift, and adding more drawer space instead. I don't want the mixer always on the counter, but I can store it on a waist high shelf in the pantry closet.

Eric, thanks so much for consolidating these thoughts here. 

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I keep my mixer out on the counter because it's fairly heavy.  If I put it "away" I might not use it as much.  Keep that in mind.

Rosalie

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Unless you plan on Bagel's being your primary bread that should be fine. I have been using my KA 5 quart for about 1 in 15 loaves when I think I need it on stiff dough. Otherwise a mixer is much more trouble than is necessary.

Glad you found the consolidation helpful.

Eric

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

LOL! Since my jaw can't handle bagels, I should be OK.

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

A contractor friend and I reconfigured a huge entertainment center we found at an antique/used furniture place to pantry cabinets that include a "garage" for my 28 pound mixer.   The original had a closed cabinet with a heavy duty pull out shelf to handle a heavy television.  It now houses the Kitchen Aid.  It's so easy to open the door, pull out the shelf and mix away -- especially since he installed an electrical outlet in the cabinet, too.

Of course, a propos of this discussion, I haven't run the mixer since I converted to stretch and fold.  Of course, I have had the time necessary to allow the dough to develop slowly. 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I've said before that the biggest thing I learned after buying a $500 DLX mixer is that I didn't need it after all. These days I only use it for large batches of 8 or 9 pounds. I'd sell it if anyone made me a decent offer.

Eric

FaithHope's picture
FaithHope

Hey Eric!

This is Faith again!  You were the one who helped me when I first bought my DLX and couldn't figure it out! :)

How much do you want for your mixer?  What year is it?  Do you have any pictures?

Thanks so much!

Faith

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey all

Hope everyone is having a great 4th.  I would like to also thank Eric for this post.  I found that I was being very impersonal with my dough.  I would add it all to the KA mix, auto, fold, shape, bake.  Thanks to this post I have gotten back in touch with all my doughs.  I mix by hand, Phriysagge (I think this is the write speeling?) and last but no least "The Fold".  This process takes very little time but allows you to really feel the consistancy and development of the dough.  I have always suscribed to the theory "if it seems to good to be true, it is".  This method makes mincemeat of this addage.  I thought I might get a dough whisk but I am having way to much fun doing the hand mix thing.  I also think, and I am sure you can back me up on this, bread tastes better when completely made by hand?  Thanks again.

Da Crumb Bum

PS. I am still not ready to get rid of my digital scale yet.  Maybe someday ( baby steps) 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi Crumb Bum,

No way will I ever let go of the scale. Totally with you there. That's the last to go. I like my probe thermometer too. I do agree that it just didn't dawn on me how much dough handling matters until I started to do it by hand - that and watching Zolablue's results for the same darn thing (e.g. the old ciabatta challenge thread) come out so much better than my attempts with the same flours, same proportions and whatnot. It's not that you can't do it with a mixer, but you learn so much doing it by hand that I realize I was missing with the mixer. What I didn't expect is that the cleaning is so much easier doing it by hand, and with the folding techniques, there really so little physical effort and actual time involved, that I actually find it much easier without the mixer. I know that's probably hard for some to believe, because I would've found it hard to believe myself less than a year ago, but honestly the mixer has become something I think of as being a hassle to pull out and a bigger hassle to clean afterward.

Bill

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Since it is the 4th of July and at least the three of us seem to be hopelessly unable to have a BBQ. Let's get in the spirit and declare our independence from mechanical mixers!!:>) HoooAaa

Eric

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

Eric, are [were] you Army?

SD Baker

ehanner's picture
ehanner

SD baker, If my memory serves me you are a Navy man. My Dad was Navy during the big war. Hope you are enjoying your Independence Day.

Eric

SDbaker's picture
SDbaker

 

 Eric, yes, thanks for the good wishes and the same to you and yours. 

 SD Baker

The Drunk Baker's picture
The Drunk Baker

Just a quick note.   i just found this site a few days ago and just read this thread, so thats why it is almost a year later, lol.

Anyways...i just wanted to thank the both of you and any other members reading this that are serving or have served in the military.  Both myself and my wife sincerely appreciate your service.

And happy upcoming 4th!

 

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey all

The only way "they", whoever "they" is will ever get my scale is to pry it out of my cold, floured hands.  I actually do hope at some point in my life I don't need even a scale.  My Gma used to make all her biscuts and pie doughs on the counter no weighing just a pinch here and a pinch there.  There was also a post I think it's still in the faves section where this dude makes bread dough in a bowl.  No scale etc.  he then bakes it in a hole lined with rocks.  How cool is that.  As for folding, I still cannot believe that this is not stressed more in all the books.  I cannot tell you how much time I spent kneading in the past.  Now don't get me wrong, this is not time wasted by any means, it is just unnessisary.  Handling the dough through the frissage and folding still lets you feel the dough and it's progression.  It's as close to magic as anything I have ever seen.  As for the mixer, I won't put it out with the trash just yet but I find it's not getting a whole lot of use lately.

Da Crumb Bum 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

It's all in the hands, baby.

Having taken "eye opening techniques" to heart, I am reaping immediate improvements as I apply what I am learning.

Here's a photo of what my bread used to look like... a typical miserable failure (tastes OK but too dense).

CountryBread

 

Now take a look at some recent efforts...

Photo series A shows Jeffrey Hamelman's recipe for Baguettes with Poolish. I modified the recipe slightly, scaled it down to 29 ounces of dough and shaped as batards, since I prefer this shape. (You can download Hamelman's recipe from media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/72/04711685/0471168572.pdf)

Photo A1: the dough is light and puffy. It holds its shape when transferred from the board to the baking sheet.

Photo A2: Slashed batards in oven 15 minutes into baking cycle. Oven spring was about 1 inch .

Photos A3 and A4 show the finished loaves.

Photo series B is another modification of Hamelman's recipe, scaled down to 34 oz dough and substituting about 10% whole grain flour (in this case, triticale) for some of the bread flour.

Photo B1: The risen dough takes slashing well. Previously I got drag marks when when slashing and the dough would deflate.

Photo B2: A finished loaf. Unfortunately it was scarfed down before I could take a pic of the interior.

 

Many thanks to ehanner and all the other wonderful posters here for all their tips.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Good for you subfuscana, I'll bet that feels great. It looks like you mastered the dough handling and slashing seems to be in hand as well. I'm so glad you discovered these techniques. Nice step by step post too, great job.

Eric

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

into baking cycle. I've never seen any mention of anyone using that technique. They look great. I would guess that being cloched would be key in that technique, otherwise the loaf would be too crusty after 15 minutes?

OliveLoafChrissy's picture
OliveLoafChrissy

While I'm aware that this is an older thread, I'm new to bread-making and therefore searching every thread that I feel is useful to me.

I just wanted to come on here and tell you how awesome your recent bread-making experiments are. It's amazing how much you've improved since the time the first photograph was taken. Honestly, I suspect that my bread won't turn out nearly as nice as yours. Of course, if I abide by your techniques (as well as following everyone else' suggestions), I can make some really delicious stuff!

Speaking of bread, I've been curious to know if anyone on here has ever tried to emulate the bread they've found at restaurants. I've heard from several people that bakers will try to copy the consistency, texture and taste of Subway's signature breads. If anyone here has tried to emulate bread, what places have you tried? Panera, Quiznos, Charbonos? I'd certainly like to know.

Anyway, great post! I loved everyone's contributions so far!!!! =D

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I feel the same way about all I've learned in the last number of months. You have a lot to be proud of, your breads are beautiful and look delicious. I too never heard of slashing the loaves after they have baked 15 min. Tell us how that worked.                                                            weavershouse

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I believe what this baker was saying is that the image is of the dough 15 minutes after baking/slashing. I didn't get that he was slashing after the loaf went in.

I did read somewhere that you can slash after the first few minutes and get a nice clean cut that looks nice.

Eric

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Yup, I think you're right. The English language,so many ways to interpret, semantics..Thanks   But then again, maybe I'll give it a try, what have I got to lose..some flour, water, yeast and salt..

 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

when I said

Quote:
Photo A2: Slashed batards in oven 15 minutes into baking cycle
I was using slashed as an adjective, not a verb. Sorry for the miscommunication.

Photo A1 showed the loaves ready to be slashed before being placed in the oven and they were slashed before baking, not 15 minutes into the baking cycle. Good catch, everybody.

 

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

I went back and read your post again and see my error. Sorry :D                                                      weavershouse

Elagins's picture
Elagins

I, too, am joining the ranks of enlightened hand-kneaders.

After watching that eye-opening video several times to make sure I understood the stretch and fold technique, I made some 66% hydration cold-ferment baguettes, loosely modeled on Peter Reinhart's 'pain a l'ancienne,' for the 4th of July. In addition, I used a couple of variations I picked up from the Danielle Forestier videos: specifically, I allowed the dough to autolyse for about 20 minutes before kneading, which gave the gluten a very solid head start; and second, I didn't add the salt (2%) until I kneaded, so as not to inhibit the yeast (1% active dry, pre-hydrated) early on.

Even though I've been aware of that rapid gluten development when I french-fold ciabatta, I was amazed at how quickly the gluten developed in this dough. (I was using 90% Costco/ConAgra bread flour, 10% medium whole wheat and ice water.) The gluten really fought back: I don't think I was able to get past 5 stretch-and-folds, and so folded and bashed the dough a la Forestier/Childs another half dozen times to make sure the salt was distributed evenly. Then I let it ferment for about 24 hours in the fridge.

Next day, the dough took about 2 hours at room temperature to fully awaken and double in bulk. At that point, the gluten had relaxed considerably and the dough was incredibly silky and well-developed -- felt much more like a 2/3 hydrated dough should. I scaled it into 10-oz boules and let it rest for another 20 minutes before shaping the baguettes. After an hour in the couche, I baked them on stones in an electric oven preheated to 550, which I turned down to 450 after putting in the loaves and tossing in a couple of glasses of water (again, a la Forestier) in to create steam. Turned them after 12 minutes, and they came out 8 minutes after that.

These were the best baguettes I've ever baked. The crumb was very open, with really well developed gluten. Our friends raved about the bread, which we served cut into rounds with a variety of dips and spreads. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures, but promise to do so next time around.

Suffice it to say, this experience has converted me (except maybe for rye).

ehanner's picture
ehanner

If you use first clear flour and rye together, you will find another pleasant surprise when handling the dough. It mixes up much like a normal white flour dough if you use say 40/60 rye/clear and use the rye in a SD preferment for about 4 hours. Try about 100 grams of starter to 270 grams rye and water. Great rye bread! If you need a full recipe let me know.

One other thing. I have stopped waiting to add salt because the french fold is so effective you don't have the opportunity to work it in. I add salt to the flour and mix it up before adding it to the dough mix and haven't seen any adverse effects. Danielle was using fresh yeast which is weaker and is planning on treating her dough to a major smack-down later:>)

Eric

ejm's picture
ejm

I've just recently learned about the existance of this website so excuse me for commenting so late.

These videos are incredible! I'm just about to go down to knead sandwich bread dough that I mixed about 20 minutes ago and am reeling with this new information. Frisage will be particularly useful for some of the really slack dough  breads I make. 

I've read about the method of stretching on the counter that the sourdough guy was doing but couldn't quite picture it.

 Many thanks for posting about these videos.

 (I have never understood why people bothered with the window pane test.)

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hi ejm, glad you are finding the site helpful, I know I do. Here is the video to the kneading method known here as the French Fold.
http://home.att.net/~carlsfriends/jimpics/index.html
Once you get your dough mixed together you can do the heel of your hand (frishage) to make certain all the clumps are incorporated. Then cover the dough and let it rest for 1 hour and do the french fold. I use it in a wide range of dough hydration. Usually it just takes a few seconds to develop the gluten with AP flour.

Some people like to use a stand mixer for everything but I hardly ever mix with a mixer. The manual method allows you the chance to feel the dough as it develops. It is quicker to clean up and you will feel like a baker! Good luck.

Eric

ejm's picture
ejm

I know what you mean about the quick cleanup when doing everything by hand, Eric I have a food processor but I hardly ever use it because it's such a drag to clean. I don't even own a stand mixer and don't really have an urge to get one. There is something very nice about using wooden spoons and hands.

I used the frisage method (demonstrated on the PBS video) this morning and will undoubtedly be using it often.  And I also made a valiant attempt at the French fold - wonderful!

I wish I could say that the bread that I'm about to bake is going to turn out wonderfully though. I'm so mad - I was out at the market longer than I expected and it overrose... >:-(

-Elizabeth 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Elizabeth,
You can punch it down and reshape if your timing gets fouled up. I have to remind myself to do that instead of trying to forge ahead and bake anyway. One way you will have great bread and the other a dud. Seems obvious still it's hard to admit the goof.

Eric

ejm's picture
ejm

I did deflate and reshape. It didn't help. It had overrisen too much (or maybe I overkneaded in my eagerness to play with the frisage and French fold??). I made bricks.

I'm hoping the bread will be okay for toast and dressing (stuffing).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

it rise again before baking.  If it's very overproofed and very wet, try folding with a little flour.   Mini O

ejm's picture
ejm

Next time, I will try that, MO. (Actually I hope there won't BE a next time and that I'll never let dough overrise again.)

I did add a bit of flour when pushing it down before shaping. But again I added a bit of flour when shaping it. It was still pretty flacid. And then it just didn't really want to rise much after shaping.

I baked it anyway and we have flat bread that makes okay toast. (And it's still better than the flavour-free commercial dreck that's full of perservatives)

 

 

ilpresidente's picture
ilpresidente

...amazing techniques and input. Like so many people have already said, this has changed my perspective on baking, in its entirety. So much so that after reading this thread for the first time late last week, I have just finished my twelfth batch of batards using the "Forestier" process. Thats a lot of bread for me!

So I have a question, and forgive me if this is not the appropriate place to ask it, but this is my first post and it pertains specifically to the Julia/ Forestier video:

I have been getting great results. In particular, my shaping has improved ten-fold. But one thing I can't figure out- when doing this all by hand like Forestier- I am getting a really tough crumb. It's overly chewy and tough, your jaw almost gets tired finishing a bite. The taste is great, and the crust is beautiful and crispy. I am following Forestier's technique to the letter with one exception, sometimes I am retarding the second fermentation for about ~10 hours. The only thing this seems to affect/facilitate is the nice blistering on the crust and a much more complex nutty taste....but the crumb is just super tough no matter what I do. Can anyone offer some advice/ thoughts on what they think may be going wrong?

Thanks!

 

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I am so glad you found the site and that thread helpfull. There are many easy to understand techniques to be found here and I'm certain you will find the answer to your question.

It would be helpful if you could post the recipe you are using, including flour type and tell us a little about your method. The Forestier video is very interesting from many standpoints. If you are actually slapping the dough 600 times, you qualify for a medal for stick-to-it-ivness!

Hopefully one of the really experienced bakers here will take you to the core of your chewy issue. Welcome to the site IlPresidente.

 Eric

Cooky's picture
Cooky

Hi, Ilpresidente. If you are in fact working your dough in the many-smackdown manner demonstrated by the fabulous Ms. Forestier, you don't need to let it ferment so long. Or, if you like the taste effect of the long ferment, you need not work the dough as much as she does. The technique she demonstrates develops the heck out of the gluten, so the bread can be baked within hours. With the hands-off long ferment, time and a bit of folding serve the same purpose. If you are doing both, that could be why your texture is overly toothy.

 

I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

ilpresidente's picture
ilpresidente

Thanks Cooky, that makes a lot of sense. Tonight I am going to work the dough a lot less and still give it the overnight fermentation. I should have known better... The technique was so appealing I think I have been a bit overzealous.

Thanks for the warm welcome Eric. Yep, I was actually slapping that dough down about 800 times to begin with. Then a day or two later- when I was sore like I had been lifting weights or something- I throttled back and started going on feel. But still really smacking the heck out of it. :) Oh well, at the very least it was fun.

Cooky's picture
Cooky

You might also get a different texture by using a lower-protein flour or flour mix. I always use 100% bread flour, which tends to make a chewier loaf. Is that what you are using? All-purpose might give you softer results too. 

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

ehanner's picture
ehanner

IlPresidente, If you skipped over the very first video link at the top of this thread, You should take a look. It shows the French Fold method of developing gluten. It's very easy and believe it or not it works very well, even with slack doughs. Cooky suggested above using a weaker flour like all purpose (AP). Working it less will also help with the chewiness as well as raising the hydration level.

If you give us the formula you are using I'm sure a good solution can be found.

Eric

jonesy's picture
jonesy

Hi. The preceeding pages, starting with "Eye opening techniques" is the most helpul and most informative I have read or watched. I got hooked a couple of months ago, with an obsession to make a nice loaf/ I have used (maybe- wasted) hours, many pounds of flour, even lost sleep, wondering where I was going wrong. I have trawled U Tube, Jamie, Nigella,(goes to her local baker !!!), been to the library. Even tried to enrol on a bakery course at tech (none available this year)I have had a couple of pleasing results, but generally ended with disappointment.  I didnt realise there were so many variations on the theme.  I have been near, but failed at the nth hurdle. Today, I made a nice loaf. To look at, to eat, and I am so thrilled! My family think "Dad has gone a bit sad". But they did enjoy the bread I made.I shall do another mix, to bake tomorrow, in the belief, that I have "cracked it!" So thanks you contributors to this theme.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Jonsey, I know the feeling when you first discover you have the process down and you can make good bread. It IS very satisfying indeed. Please assure the family you are fine and just following in the footsteps of our forefathers learning to feed our families in grand style.

Eric 

DrPr's picture
DrPr

Videos are really wonderful for those of us who have no atisan breadbakers nearby to teach us. Lord knows how often I've misunderstood a written instruction or description! 


I enjoy making my breads without using mixers- doing as much of this by hand as possible is important to me and part of the enjoyment of baking.  I've used both the mixing and kneading methods shown in Julia Child's video- I learned them from Nancy Silverton's book Breads from La Brea Bakery.


 


As far as the four-sided folding, I really enjoyed using that method when making ciabatta, and will try to remember to do that when making other types of breads.

abqhudson's picture
abqhudson

Thank you very much - OP and all responders!

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

I always knead by hand and have become pretty competant with the french fold (which I use for everything except maybe stiff doughs like bagel) but the 15 second knead concept is a real eye opener.  As soon as my starter is revived I plan to try your "fold and wait" technique.  BTW - I always have been skeptical about the idea of preheating for extended periods.  Some books even recommend TWO HOURS of preheating.  I mean, we're talking "metal boxes" not brick ovens!


Summer

joem6112's picture
joem6112

Watched the Julia Child/Daniel Forester baguette demonstration. May make a beatiful and delicious bread but I found it exhausting and may discourage future bakers. But then I am lazy baker and enjoy my bread.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I just took the time to review this thread which I started a long time ago. The purpose was to see if it was time to update any of the advice I had offered and see how people had responded over the last few years. It's still a great thread and nice to see people are still finding hand made bread fun to make.


I would like to say that if you are struggling trying to make good bread, read this thread. Please, please, do try to learn how to mix the dough by hand. Even if you just spend hundreds on a new mixer or think you can't possibly live without using that nice looking stand mixer. Drag your self away from the machine and mix 3 or 4 loaves by hand. You will learn quickly what the dough should feel like. Look for the thread by bwraith HERE and see how easily he starts the gluten being developed first by using the French Fold and later by Stretch and Fold, on a clean counter.


The first link I posted to the original French Fold is still active here and is still very good. Please take a look at the written instructions link at the bottom for full understanding of this great bread and a basis for developing your own daily bread formula.


Recently a new poster here (Shiao-Ping) has introduced the method developed by James MacGuire for developing proper gluten. MacGuire was the technical editor for  Prof. Raymond Calvel. The post that describes the method can be found HERE.  This seems to be the best method for creating a perfectly developed and silky satin dough. I have found, as was suggested that if I raise the hydration to 80%, the dough will at first be sticky and difficult but as you fold it every hour during a 4 hour ferment time, at the end it comes together wonderfully. All that is needed is a large bowl and a plastic scraper.


Flour has in itself a wonderful flavor. By not beating it to death with a mixer, you can allow yourself the pleasure of tasting and smelling the natural nuttiness and distinct flavors of hand made bread. Observe the creamy yellow shades of the natural product as they were intended to be seen. Try this once and be transformed.


Eric

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Eric, I revisited the Richard Bertinet sweet dough video.  He slaps that dough around!  Others recommend being "vigorous" with the dough.  Still others say you should be gentle with your dough.  What's the story here?


Rosalie

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

The Bertinet method is quite good for you if you've had a particularly nasty day. I think that I made cinnamon rolls using it once after I'd completely screwed up dinner. I definitely slapped that dough around but good.


I think it all comes down to preference, really. Most methods will work well with any dough (although some will work better with wetter doughs than others) and are meant to do the same thing: adequately develop the gluten in a dough. You use what works for you and that be that.


Personally, I use a mixture of autolyse, stretch and fold, fold-in-the-bowl, and slapping the dough around. I do a combination of techniques with almost all doughs but the really stiff ones. Bagel dough and the like, which are never really sticky, get the good-old-fashioned push-pull kneading that my great grandmother used.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The way I see it, if you start to develop with a little slap and fold ala Bertinet or sourdo-guy and then wait for a gentle stretch for the next few hours, things will be fine.


Eric

ejm's picture
ejm

Many thanks again for this thread!


I've been using the "cat trying to get comfortable on a soft pillow" (big surprise, I made up that name) method with one hand and dough scraper to clean the board from time to time for kneading soft dough. But I've GOT to try this Bertinet "invert and slap" method.


I also find the recent edit about oven temperature to be fascinating. Just to clarify, are you leaving the oven turned on for about 5 minutes before putting the bread in the oven, Eric? And do you have a stone in there?


-Elizabeth


 

Pain Partout's picture
Pain Partout

I am a relative new member of TFL, so I missed all the older postings on this thread.  Eric, your original links to videos were excellent.  Your ongoing comments are constructive and ...well... just plain great.      I would have a few arguments over the number of times that we should "slap and knead" dough, but the techniques are very sound, and ageless. I can only speak as a person who learned to cook from watching commonplace bread/pizza makers in Quebec 35 years ago.  Yes... the French, even the Quebecois, DID appreciate their wonderful breads & other cooking venues.  Living in a totally french area left a lasting impression on my attempts at baking/other cooking.  Thanks, for a very informative post.

ejm's picture
ejm

Whoa!! This is a great technique and works just as quickly as promised. Cool!!


Because the amount of dough I was kneading was much smaller than the amount Bertinet mixed, I modified the method to use only one hand so that my other hand stayed dough-free for easier bench scraping.  (I am making 1½ times the baguette recipe in The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.)


Many thanks again for this video link and thread, Eric.


-Elizabeth


P.S. My husband wanted to try too so came in near the end of the kneading to do some slapping and folding too. (Oh dear, I hope nobody is going to take advantage of that opening!) I was amazed at the difference in temperature of the dough after he had been handling it. I always knew I had cold hands... no wonder I have to knead a little longer than some people!


gourmet.com: Richard Bertinet Video "The Technique: Sweet Dough"


 


 

ejm's picture
ejm


Eric (ehanner) wrote:


2.) Instead of starting from a cold oven, I now am starting the oven when the dough looks ready and the proof is about done. The dough is proofing on parchment, covered with a floured towel or a moist tea towel. When it looks like the proof is done, turn on the oven. My electric will go to 450 in 7 minutes.



The other day, I thought I'd experiment with this method. I preheated the oven for about 5 minutes (stone in). It was only at about 250F when I started to put the bread in. But I didn’t think it mattered. Because of the others who bake bread starting in a cold oven....


What a nightmare!! There was virtually no oven-popping (it's possible that the bread was a little overproofed). Among other difficulties, the worst result was that the baked bread was stuck fast to the stone. As if it had been glued. I had to use a metal spatula and elbow grease to get the bread released.


Luckily, the bread tasted okay.


(Sorry, no photographic evidence - I didn’t dare pick up the camera. I was clearly on a failing roll.)


On a happy note, as I mentioned earlier, Bertinet's "slap and fold" kneading method is fabulous.


-Elizabeth


more details about the event here: Augh!!! (Richard Bertinet's "slap and fold" kneading method; no pre-heating on oven; how not to bake bread;)

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

So sorry to hear about your sticking bread disaster, Elizabeth. I'm afraid bad words would have been flying if that was my kitchen. I wonder whether Eric is using a stone when he only partly heats the oven before adding the bread? I always assumed that the stone had to be really hot - or the bread had to be baked on a sheet with no stone. I'm sure Eric will clarify that for me. I always use a modified Bertinet method now and find it transforms a lumpy mass to a smooth dough very quickly. I wet the counter and one hand and slap away - does tend to send white "freckles" far and wide though. A.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I agree, the stone needs to be pre-heated.  If it isn't, then the coldness of the stone will keep the bread from getting the heat it needs for oven spring.  I assume Eric will come back and say that, no, he's not using a stone at those times.


Rosalie

ejm's picture
ejm


Annie (AnnieT) wrote:


So sorry to hear about your sticking bread disaster, Elizabeth. I'm afraid bad words would have been flying if that was my kitchen.



I cannot tell a lie, Annie. There were definitely harshly self-abusive verbal slurs being cast around as I threw the oven mitts. I shouldn't have implied otherwise....


Good idea to wet your hands when using the Bertinet method. I may try that.


Rosalie, I suspect that you're right about the stone needing to be fully preheated. But I'm not sure that there would have been oven spring even with preheating. I think the dough had over-risen. I'm definitely not going to test that "no preheating" method again though with perfectly risen bread!


Luckily, after the stone cooled, the portions of the loaf that remained stuck to the stone (after the rest of the loaf was pried off) were easily removed with our dough scraper.


-Elizabeth


 

DrPr's picture
DrPr

I've had my share of baking disasters and bad words slung around. I baked ciabatta without realizing I had no parchment paper, and had no easy way to transfer the proofed dough onto my baking stone.  Oh, there was cursing and gnashing of teeth that day!! 

shuttervector's picture
shuttervector

Eric,


I loved your post today. I have also discovered that fold and stretch several times will tame high hydration dough and have had an "ah ha!" moment.


Question for you: For the home baker what is a good way to control the temperature of the fermenting process at 78 degrees and proofing temperature. I have tried putting the dough in my microwave with a measuring cup of boiling water and closing the door but I never really know what the temperature is. I have heard that some folks use a heating pad.


Thanks again.


Dorothy, shuttervector@gmail.com

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I find that the best way to control temperature is to start with the temp you want to maintain. That sounds like too simple of and answer but it is much harder to raise the temp of a mass of dough 5 or 10 degrees than it is to maintain that temp. So start by calculating what the water temp should be to arrive at the Desired Dough Temperature (DDT).


In my kitchen, I find the cabinet just above the refrigerator is generally warmer than the room temperature by 10 degrees F. It is early Spring now and 45F outside, 68 inside and 78 in my proofing cabinet. I also use the microwave with a cup of boiling water for proofing dough in tins or brotforms. The humidity is high enough I don't cover the dough and it is usually around 90F.


One of the best tools I own and would replace immediately is my Raytec IR thermometer. It was around $45. online and I use it several times every day. Determining the temp of the cabinet, the garage I use for retarding, the floor where I sometimes retard near the garage door, the water I have just warmed in the MW, the dough after mixing, the starter I am about to mix with water, the list goes on and on. There is no more important component in baking than controlling the temperature of the fermenting dough. Being able to measure the temperature quickly of everything from water to baking stone with the click of a finger is well, priceless.


BTW the link above isn't necessarily where I bought my Raytec, just an example of the product. They sell different models on Amazon in that range.


Eric

saraugie's picture
saraugie

I want to try the cold start method of baking.  I have a good high end oven and it takes at about 40 minutes to reach 450 degrees.  Its electric and I've read here that some of yours only take 7 minutes to get to 450-500 ?  Is my oven so unusual ?

joem6112's picture
joem6112

We have an electric stove and it takes about 9-10 mins to reach 425 degrees. Sounds like you have a problem. I'm no expert but 40 minutes is a long time. That's my standard baking time for bread.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

That sounds like a long time to get up to temperature. I think if it really takes 40 minutes I suggest you turn it on and as your dough is about that time away from being proofed. I know that's a hard thing to estimate but when the bread is ready just go ahead and load it at what ever temp it is at. You are baking on a sheet pan which will heat quickly. You might have to experiment with the shelf height but I would start with the second from bottom, no stone. Depending on how warm the oven is when you load the bread, watch for the internal temperature to be above 195-205F. It might take a time or two to find the right procedure but this is way better than heating to 450 and waiting another hour for the stone to warm up.


Let me know how it works.


Eric

saraugie's picture
saraugie

I bought a oven temp gage to check the validity of the temp turning on and off when it is set to a temp.  So far it has shown the oven to be accurately sensing temps at 300, 350 and 450.


I am going to turn it on, without the stone in it and time actually how long it takes to get to 450.  I'm pretty sure about 30-40 minutes being correct but I'll put the gage in, stone out and verify.


Thanks for the suggestions on how to compensate, will do experimenting till I get correct.

saraugie's picture
saraugie

I timed it today and it was 21 minutes give or take 15 seconds, to get to 450.  I guess that's closer to 8 minutes some of your folk's ovens heat up at. I can live with that.  I measured the door and its 30"

I found the owners manual and installation instructions.  It does not seem like an abynormal (Young Frankenstein fans know that's spelled correctly) oven.  The only thing that I am not seeing, is the bottom element.  It is covered but I bet that with most newer ovens that is standard ?

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

I'm guessing that covered bottom element is also the reason it takes so much longer in preheating, as compared to those with exposed elements. That exposed element remains a glowing red hot, directly heating the air, until the set temp is reached.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

When you timed how long it takes to warm up, did you have the fan running? I have heard that help to shorten the warm time but I don't have one. Thee bottom element must be covered which slows down the warm time somewhat. It is what it is anyway. I would look for a heavy duty rimless cookie sheet and a SS bowl that just fits on top of the sheet. A 4 liter bowl will probably work. Then you have everything you need to bake Susan's Magic Bowl covered method.


Eric

saraugie's picture
saraugie

I cannot see that I have control of the fan running or not.  It comes on and stays on during convection cycles but not all the time during regular bake. Right now I'm roasting a duck at 325, regular bake, the fan comes on then shuts off and back on again at intervals, which are not in sync with the heating elements coming on or off to maintain temp.

FaithHope's picture
FaithHope

So I watched that crazy Richard Bertinet's video!  I thought, NO WAY!  I'm cooking up some PR hawaiian rolls today and thought I'd give it a try.


It worked!!


At first I thought there is no way this can be slapped into perfection without flour, but after about 15 min. it came true!!


Wow!  What a workout though! :)  The video of the guy slapping his dough in 10 sec. was WAY crazy!!  I'll have to practice on that!


Thanks for the tips Eric, I always appreciate your ideas and insight!! :)


Faith

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Yea those are pretty crazy videos. I remember the first time I watched the sourdough guy video where he develops the gluten in 5 folds and slaps. I had to keep going back to the video and watching it over and over. It's so simple when you get the hang of it.


The trick is to just do it  a few times and then let the dough sit resting for 20-30 minutes and then stretch and fold, wait 20 and S&F again. The stretch and fold is much less  violent and leaves the bubbles intact. I'm about to do that right now on some baguette dough. I love it.


Eric

sjburnt's picture
sjburnt

.

sjburnt's picture
sjburnt

Sorry for my previous post - I started to ask where all the links for this article went, then discovered the whole controversy. I was unable to delete it.  My bad.


Does anyone have a live link to the technique described in the very first paragraph of this post?


 


 


 


 


 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I updated the link to another source that shows the same thing only better.


 


Eric

LindyD's picture
LindyD
sjburnt's picture
sjburnt

Man, that was quick!  Thank you.

sjburnt's picture
sjburnt

I meant to say that your response was quick! 


 


Then I watched the video link.  Several times.  Unbelieveable.  That was really quick as well! I can't wait to try it.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Glad I was able to find it for you.


And yes, it is an interesting video.  His written instructions for the formula are linked beneath the video.  I'd replace a portion of the bread flour with rye, though - but that's just because I think rye always brings something nice to the table.

lokz's picture
lokz

I am a noob, just learning to bake bread.  A lot of times, my bread are bricks. I have been reading up on how to knead well.  Thanks to the generous sharing, I think I have finally found answers on how to knead properly but still got lots to learn like how to get the silky smooth dough using the techniques suggested here.  I have a few queries :


 



  1. When do you use the French fold? At the start ie after you have mixed all the ingredients together and autolysed for 30mins to 1 hour?

  2. When do you use the sourdough guy's stretch & fold technique? After the French fold?


 


Help need.  How to handle a wet dough that I've just completed the autolysed stage?


 



  1. can you still use the french fold for a wet dough?  I tried but the dough just get stickier as I tried to do the french fold.

  2. Should I have added more flour to get my dough to be less sticky? or wet my hands before I do the french fold?

  3. or just use the sourdough guy method of stretch & fold & let the dough rest ~45 mins after each stretch & fold?

  4. or use the stretch & fold in the bowl technique & let dough rest ~45mins inbetween each stretch & fold in the bowl technique? (Back Home bakery technique)


 

ejm's picture
ejm

I would be disinclined to add more flour. That means that the dough stops being slack dough.


I like to use the folding method: scattering the tiniest bit of flour (but not enough to say that you've added more flour) and then use a dough scraper to fold the dough. I posted about this method here:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/4365/kneading-slack-dough-hand


-Elizabeth

ZincerIron's picture
ZincerIron

Very interesting techniques.


 


Used Fire Trucks For Sale

Dhull100's picture
Dhull100

I have been making bread for only a couple months now. Read the usual suspects (Reinhart, Hamelman) and have had some success. HOWEVER, after increasing frustration with kneading with a mixer (7 qt Cuisinart), I cannot say enough good things about the fold technique described above. I used this technique for the first time this week. The crumb is far superior by this method--so chewey, variably sized holes with beautiful "membranes". I have used this to make Hamelman's Baguettes and Pain Rustique. Handling dough by hand is a necessary teacher it seems, although I have no doubt the background knowledge gained (particulary in Hamelman's Bread) has been equally necessary for me.


 


 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm glad you found the old Eye Opening Techniques helpful. I get a lot of notes to the same effect. When I wrote that, it was little known information. Somehow, in the years that passed, we all know now that time and gentle folding does the same or better job of developing gluten. Getting to know your dough is a great thing.


Good luck baking.


Eric

Anakritis's picture
Anakritis

 

The first bit of advice I have is to stop what ever you are doing and watch this video.

What video? Where is the link?

I will watch it if you supply the link!

Anakritis's picture
Anakritis

FOUND IT!

http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough

Very nice. I will employ technique this frequently.

Anakritis's picture
Anakritis

When I learned this move and method of handling dough, my results instantly went from unpredictable to reliable. 10 or maybe 15 seconds with your hands in the dough and that's it, you're done. No more kneading is required.

OK, I have been through every video link in this post but I have yet to find a link to a technique that shows a method that is 10 or 15 seconds long and requires no kneading.... In the link with Richard Bertinet, he even says that this form of kneading requires 5 to 10 minutes to develope the dough properly.

If I have not been viewing the proper video (listed above) please post the proper link!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The original link to the French Fold method that was popular here for a while has gone missing. However I have found a good substitute done by a member here. This was done by bwraith a few years ago but I do this every time I bake. The video by bertinet shows him starting with raw ingredients and working the dough into a smooth well developed dough. While this is certainly a good method, there simpler ways to arrive at the same end. The video I linked to above shows a simple french fold or slap and fold. This is done on a dough that has been well mixed, allowed to rest for 45-60 minutes covered and then handled in this manner. The dough in the video is a high hydration mix and so is more difficult to manage but as you see, it is strengthening. On a dough mixed at 65% hydration, and well rested first, you might need 4-6 turns of french folding as seen. If you do to many, the dough will tear on the top as you pull back the last time. Then you need to stop and let the dough ferment.

It may be necessary to do another folding, a simple letter style folding after an hour of fermentation. If so, I refer you to his second video here.

What we have learned is that the gluten will develop with time. There is need for only a small amount of manual kneading and perhaps a letter fold or possibly two during fermenting. Hope this helps.

Eric

ninofiol's picture
ninofiol

This post has been my "go to" when I started making bread 2 yrs ago. I have just read the sad news of Eric's passing and would like to see this and other of his posts perpetuade on this site. He will be missed!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

When I saw this post I started doing French slap and folds ever since with a few S&F's.  Made my bread making worth baking.  Eric changed everything bread wise for me.   He was too young and will be missed.