The Fresh Loaf

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How To Make A Dough Mixer/Kneader ?

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abrogard's picture
abrogard

How To Make A Dough Mixer/Kneader ?

We are working with batches of dough that fill a 20 litre bowl.  About 5.3 US gallons I think.  

That is as much as we can handle: mix up, knead.  It gets very stiff, pretty hard work.

So we'd like a machine but commercial machines this size cost thousands of dollars, it seems: http://www.foodequipment.com.au/downloads/pricelist/W_201205_R-PRICE_FED_AUNZ_v11mR3a_A4.pdf

I wondered what they did before the age of electricity. Must have used a manual machine.  Perhaps we could get an old one of them. Or if we could see a few maybe get enough ideas to be able to make one.

Anyone help with that?

 

 

 

Pioneer Foodie's picture
Pioneer Foodie

After looking at several videos here, and examining historical photos and engravings, I spent $50 and built a dough trough.  Its made of poplar and I can easily mix 50 lbs of dough in minutes without breaking a sweat. Just because we have electricity doesn't mean we can do everything better and faster than it was done for the last 2000 years.

tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

I'd like to see a video....

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Speaking of 2000 years...  If it's good enough for the Romans...

 Located in Juliobriga, Cantabria, Spain. 

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Well that sounds wonderful to me.  "50lb of dough without breaking a sweat" is exactly what we are looking for.

But hang on, you said 'mixing' - only  mixing or kneading as well? It is the kneading the mix that's the hard bit of course, isn' t it?

But the picture looks like it is only a trough.  Put the dough in and don't we face exactly the same amount of work as is killing us with only 16lb of dough?  Or, well, 16lb of flour is where we start.  What would the load be at then end - 20lb?

So is there some associated apparatus? Or how does it work to save all that effort?  I googled and found more  pictures and still no explanation of how it helps.

:)

 p.s.  There's a guy here talking about his sweat splashing into the trough as he works... doesn't look like he's saving any effort:

http://sourdough.com/blog/graham/dough-trough-sourdough

 

 

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Bakers hired more people to do the mixing...  in terms of cost, what does it cost to hire two more people to mix?

There is a different technique used in trough mixing that I've noticed, the dough is pulled thru the bottom not lifted and folded over.  That way its own weight causes it to fold over by itself.  By not lifting the mixer person saves energy.  Does anyone else see that?    

Got to go find the videos...  One in French...  the other in Spanish using fresh milled corn and rye in a dark bake house.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/13688/peasant-bakers-france#comment-210387

tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

If you're not sure what 'autolyse' is, look it up. Letting the 'dough' rest after you incorporate the water to the flour will save you a lot of work as the gluten develops on it's own.

abrogard's picture
abrogard

I've seen the video.  I see no 'kneading' at all in the way we are accustomed to think of it.  In that case the dough trough is not making the work easier - it is simply omitting kneading that is making it easier. Isn't that right?

Not clear from the video what's happening timewise. (I can't understand French)  Perhaps they are saying it'll be left to stand now for x hours or minutes or something but I don't know about it.

Perhaps Pioneer Foodie will come back and tell us how he works his dough so successfully in his dough trough.

 

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Since you don't lack electricity, have you shopped for a used large machine?  Try onesharpstore.com.  I'm not affiliated with them in any way except that they were helpful to me a few years back when I needed to identify what turned out to be an ancient though still-functional Hobart (A20?), allowing me then to purchase the large bowl and dough hook to fit.  They were quite gracious to me.

Pioneer Foodie's picture
Pioneer Foodie

As you say, it looks like they are only "mixing" rather than "kneading." For the dough trough, if you don't want to labor at it, use a high hydration dough. For example my sourdough is 10 lbs flour 7 lbs water 6 lbs levain with 100% hydration on the levain. Makes a very wet dough. So you only have to mix the dough in the trough until it comes together, just as you see in the peasant bakers of France video link posted above. Then the "kneading" actually happens through stretch-and-fold steps, once every hour for three hours. If you do this you'll get lovely bread with nice holes. If you take the extra step of retarding after forming loaves, even better.

People make this more complicated than it needs to be.

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Well thank you for that.

I was rather thinking it might be something like after watching the video. 

I am doing this on my wife's behalf. She makes dough for Chinese style steamed bread and it is a heavy, stiff dough.  I don't know if it would be amenable to the technique you talk about: making a 'wet dough'.  I can only suggest it to her and show her the video.

The bread trough working position looks like a benefit to me.  The width of the trough allows the whole forearm to be put in there and then the arm can be moved by the heavy muscles of the back instead of all the work being done by the arm muscles moving the forearm.

This could be quite a benefit, I think.  Plus careful positioning of height.  The smallest amount of stooping can lead to  back pain all too easily and it seems to me it'd be good to position each bread trough to suit the height of that particular worker.

I have heard of this 'autolyse'. Mix the flour and water and let it stand. Would that be what is in that bowl that he pours into the trough?  An autolysed mix?  I wish I could understand the French.

Things need doing correctly.

So could I ask:  Would you strongly recommend a bread trough if we can adopt the correct procedure for using it?

I think you would.   

 

Second hand mixer?  Good if we can find one cheap enough.  We wouldn't want to pay even $1000 for a machine and if they start off new at more than $3000 I don't think there's much chance.  

We are in Australia here, we don't have the population of the USA, the market place is smaller.  And we're in a small country town, too, doesn't help.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is that the flour is added slowly, the bulk of the mixing done with with all the water and then part of the flour, then toward the end of mixing add the rest of the flour to stiffen the dough and autolyse.  I think it is applicable to any hydration dough.

And yes, it is mixing, not kneading.  But the title of the post is "how to make a dough mixer."  Never mind.  Letting the dough sit, does develop the gluten, all by itself!  Sometimes I think jumping into kneading right away (often done with electric mixers) is a waste of energy because the dough develops whether the machine is running or not.  Why not wait?  Perhaps the judgement call is the tricky part when to turn on the machine so it's easier not to have to make a decision and direct kneading thru the resting time.

abrogard's picture
abrogard

My wife seems to think her dough is not amenable to that technique. She says it is a very stiff dough. Much stiffer than is usual.

I suppose this is understandable as it is for 'steamed' bread and steam is very wet.  That's my uneducated opinion.

If there are any with experience from within the industry who can argue differently then I'd love to hear from them for I'd put their arguments to her.  

I don't understand it at all.  Sure I comprehend the technical data I read but I mean the 'industry' (i.e. the millions of people doing it everywhere and the machines designed for doing it) seems to be totally directed towards heavy kneading. I've even read recipes for French bread, tiny quantities, which insist on half an hour's kneading!!  

I've asked my wife for her quantities,  just now, and she can't give them to me.  She works by feel.  Next batch I've asked her to take note of the precise quantities.   We do know she uses 7.5kg of flour in one batch. But that's only because the biggest bowl she has is full at that. If she could she'd make much more: twice as much, say.

We have discovered that 'tumbler' designed machines in China are selling for a fraction of the cost of these mixing machines I've found in Australia.  One third or a quarter, or less.   We may be able to import one of them or discover an importer.

It seemed to me that it should be easy to make one - my cement mixer would seem an ideal configuration to me - and these machines seem to bear that out.   But, of course, for me to  make one means working with Stainless steel, which I can't do very well.  But at those prices - less than $AU 1000 we'd probably import one cheaper than I could make it if I could make it!

However back to the trough and the question of autolysing.  I feel it would be the answer and I will try to run an experiment to find out. My wife is baking again today so perhaps I can mix up something at the end of her run.

When, precisely, is the optimum time for the autolysing?  Or does it occur in two sessions?  Say once when it is a wet  puddle and once again when all the flour is mixed in and it is a dry mix? Or does autolysing stop when the mix is so dry?

Info on those two questions would be good: when to pause to allow autolyse and for how long?

Are there any other steamed bread makers out there?  In quantity?  How do they handle their stiff doughs?

 

 

 

 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

It isn't as classy as a wooden trough but it is cheap and readily available and a very common thing to use in real bakeries. Yes they mostly use mixers but at SFBI we used troughs for hand mixing as well. You could easily try it for $20 or so.

abrogard's picture
abrogard

 

 Well that's what we currently use.  A big plastic bowl.  As big as she can handle.  She'd like to go more but it's too hard. That's what this is all about.

 I can make a trough out of melamine board - that'd pass health inspection I reckon, if the corner joins were epoxy resined. But my wife isn't convinced that her stiff dough can be made in such quantities by her regardless of what container it is in.

The contention is that auto lysing is the secret to hand mixing large quantities.  Done this way the dough needs little kneading is the claim.  

My wife is not convinced mainly because her dough is so unusually  stiff. 

So we're intending (Or I am, anyway) to run a test.

Do  you make any really stiff doughs in  your bakery?  By hand?  Auto lysed?

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

A good Question.  The purpose of autolysing is to let the flour have the time it needs to absorb moisture, with enough water, the flour forms gluten.  The optimum time would depend on what is the goal is but with western breads, it tends to be after mixing up the dough (adding water to the flour and stirring until all dried flour is moistened.)

Keeping the Chinese origin of the recipe in mind, it can easily be that by mixing everything at once, flour and small amount of water, the goal is to prevent too much gluten formation.  But then, I don't understand the need then to knead for a long time.  By mixing a slurry first and slowly adding flour, gluten development advances faster and ev. less flour is required to form dough.  (Good to know if you ever come up short on flour.)

When the dough is very stiff and even dry, gluten is difficult to develop further.  A dense bread results without steam.  In the presence of steam, gluten will not develop further but starches will be gelitanized and trap gasses and steam already inside the dough.   If the recipe originated with a low gluten flour, I can see how too much gluten would change the crumb and that the method your wife uses is an adaptation to prevent too much gluten from forming to achieve a "traditional" style bread.  I am only guessing here.  Your careful observation of weights, temp, relative humidity, type of flour and dough feel, and then the rising and handling of the dough will speak for itself.   

I have experienced some Asian "breads" without yeast or leaven where the flour was cooked into a brick, cooled and grated.  More ingredients added like sweeteners and then the fluffed up crumbs were packed into a form and re-heated over steam.   Steam was forced into one end, thru the center and out the end reheating and adding moisture to re-gel the crumbs connecting them and trapping air pockets inside.  This had a tenderizing and volume increasing effect on what could have been "just a brick."  The then cooled crumb (cut cross section) was very much like a soft fluffy cake and served as such.  

I mention this because my travels have exposed me to different ways of interpreting "bread" and the idea of steaming bread in Asia is very old and traditional.  Often with low gluten or non-gluten flours.  I have also run into breads that I thought could use an improvement but that was me putting my interpretation on to them.  The locals loved the stuff!  Wouldn't have it any other way.  I respect that.  Lesson: Never underestimate the power of tradition and loving presentation.

How clean are new cement mixers in Australia?  Would it be possible to use one?  Or to take it apart and enamel (baked on) the inside surfaces?  

abrogard's picture
abrogard

Thanks for that interesting post.

So I don't understand, either, what's going on regarding gluten formation.  I know she's very satisfied with the bread and so are all her friends - clamouring for more.  So it must be very akin to the Chinese counterpart.

And she uses a good Australian bread flour for the job.  Now that'd be a high gluten flour, I assume?  ( I am very ignorant in this field).

So why does she insist upon such a stiff dough?  

I could tell her that she'd achieve the same lack of gluten if she employed a 'softer' flour - i.e. not high gluten, not bread quality, cake flour maybe?  And used a wetter and therefore more easily handleable mix ?

And then we might be back to the dough trough and large quantities. In a one day bake my wife uses 25kg of flour or thereabouts and that's four stiff hard work episodes in the mixing/kneading bowl for her.

I just asked my wife why she does it this way: the stiff dough.  She says it is for the taste.  The taste.  Not the texture. For the taste.

Myself I don't understand the kneading thing.  How does kneading form gluten? 

I mean I've read of long chains of gluten forming.  And they apparently will form anyway, according to the story on autolysing. Well won't they form better, longer, if the dough is not stretched and kneaded?  Surely manipulating the dough will break long chains?  Difficult for me to see how it could promote the making of them.

 

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Quote:
I mean I've read of long chains of gluten forming.  And they apparently will form anyway, according to the story on autolysing. Well won't they form better, longer, if the dough is not stretched and kneaded?  Surely manipulating the dough will break long chains?  Difficult for me to see how it could promote the making of them.
Kneading brings a bit more to the table. First, by manipulating the dough, it brings more gluten precursors in contact with one another. Second, by stretching the dough, strands of gluten are aligned so that the dough has grain;  think wood grain, not feedstocks.

Regarding the hydration, if she could provides the hydration level, that is the water weight divided by the flour weight, we'd all have a better sense of what is meant by 'stiff' dough. (I think this was requested elsewhere.)

cheers,

gary

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Are you sure you're not the novice baker?  Your questions are great.  All of them and many more would be answered succinctly and quickly in a short and decent text book written for a course for beginner bakers, and, to boot, all of the answers would be from the known expert who wrote the book.  If you've got the internet you can search for and download Floyd Mann's The Fresh Loaf; it's clickable on this website from Handbook above.  If it's available to you, you can purchase DiMuzio's Bread Baking.  You could then provide the knowledge base for your wife and be a better judge, when reading the posts here, of what makes sense and what doesn't.   Maybe you'd even try a loaf yourself.