The Fresh Loaf

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Gluten Development Techniques - What to do!?

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Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Gluten Development Techniques - What to do!?

Something that I have been wondering lately since learning how to make Tartine's Country Loaf.

Is there a reason that any other technique to develop gluten would be used other than the 'in-bowl pull-fold and rotate' method??

Why all the mess, and flour/oil waste, the sore arms and stress?

There MUST be a reason why the whole world has not switched from the painful old-fashioned kneading process to Chad's (originally French) method.  Right?  If there are, please enlighten this lazy amateur.

John

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Yes, the reasons not everyone uses Stretch-and-fold are fairly simple: 

Intensive kneading (by machine or by hand) takes only a fraction of the time of total elapsed time requred by S&F, and develops the gluten (and/or texture) to a far greater level than S&F can within that same fraction of time. 

 

 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Of course cranbo...time is surely a positive on the kneading side.  However, I think I have seen some strong arguments made about whether stretch and fold methods are less affective than kneading.  This is why I asked.  I don't want to give up kneading actually.  I just want to make sure there are some definite reasons to not give it up.

 

suave's picture
suave

Because not every dough is "artisanal".   As in lean,  overhydrated, and made with strong flour.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Crossing the bridge between gluten development and dough strength.

I hear people discuss different degrees of gluten development but for me this term is misused even in a professional sense. The development of gluten is something that happens with hydration through time. Kneading will speed this up, but this isn't the only thing that happens while kneading.

Manipulating the dough in consistent stretching manner will organize the gluten bonds. Think of each link providing strength and extensibility. The more organised and evenly distributed these links are in the dough mass the greater the dough strength. Visualising this you can understand why a more organised network will create a finer, more even crumb. Large pockets are weak spots in the structure where gluten isn't so organised and consequently not strong enough to the expanding gas so well. The more a dough is knead the stronger it becomes up to a limit. With too much strength and not a enough extensibility to balance it, you'll can end up with a dense loaf.

A dough that is barely kneaded will struggle to stay stable and be on the brink of collapse once it gets to it limit, say about triple it's size.

A dough made using the same flour that is kneaded to its maximum extensibility (full development) will still be stable at triple its volume.

As mentioned time is an important factor in any bakery and so is the desire for loaf volume (more so commercially). But there are many other factors that contribute to dough strength and are utilised more effectively in the artisan world. Degrees of kneading (physical manipulation), fermentation (biological manipulation) and ingredients (chemical manipulation) all contribute to the desired bread qualities and it's the skill of the baker to use them in a way that makes for the desired finished product.

Michael

Wychelm Bread School's picture
Wychelm Bread School

Apart from the excellent technical reasons mentioned, many people find kneading relaxing, theraputic and good for hand and arm strength and fitness.

Roger

mwilson's picture
mwilson

My technical mind ran away with me there!

Yes I agree, kneading and even just handling dough is indeed therapeutic.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Nice explanation Michael, thanks for sharing

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

What he said.  Best brief blurb I've seen on gluten development physics, chemistry, biology, in theory and in practice, anywhere.  Well done, Michael.  And spoken with impeccable cred by the hero of 100% Hydration Spelt.  The business of crumb QC requires keeping lot of balls up in the air.  When I drop one or two, I'll now have another place to look when they bounce into my forgetory.  Thanks for that, Michael!

Tom

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Thanks cranbo and Tom.

A few grammer mistakes in there I'd like to correct... Shame I can't now.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

as the best of both worlds between regular kneading and stretch and folds.   Plus it drives my apprentice crazy and she runs around barking up a storm every time she hears the dough slap the table.  10 minutes right after mixing gets the aggression out and calms the storms from becoming more than Prozac can handle on its own :-)  After 30 minutes of doughy resting I still do 3 sets of S&F's every half hour too - but my apprentice  has no idea why I do them and  they would probably not be necessary with another 5  minutes of French Slap and Folds.  At my age, French slap and folds are about as risque sounding as one should get without ending up in jail.

baybakin's picture
baybakin

You know, I ask about the same question.  As I'm sure you noticed in my Oakland sourdough recipe you were working on, I use the tartine method pretty regularly.  I love the double-hydration that goes along with this, adding the salt and some water after autolysis, and I pretty much do every single lean dough bread in this way.

I've found, however, that it does not work quite as well with enriched doughs, so I suppose this is the reason not to?  I slap and fold on the countertop for sweet doughs/pan breads in order to get a more even crumb, but those are the exception instead of the rule.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks all for your feedback.  I am happy but exhausted knowing that kneading is indeed necessary for some breads.  That's what I love about bread baking - so many different techniques and processes.

Thanks all!  Especially mwilson wow!  Head of the class :)

John

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Try to make a bread with the same ingredients but with 1) minimal kneading such as stretch and fold (on a table, in the bowl, wherever you prefer) 2) extensive kneading. See how far the first one can go  before overproofing and finally tearing. The loaf made with the second method will not overproof. The reason is that the second dough has a much stronger cohesion, probably because of a much larger amount of disulphide bonds.