The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Autolyse

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

Springtime is outdoor time.  Meaning less baking time :-(.  So I'm pleased to have worked up this 36h labor-lite levain.  It has very satisfyingly complex flavor, surprisingly light crumb and an irresistible crust when baked boldly.  Prep is facilitated by using the same flours (a modified Rubaud mix) for both levain and dough.  Many thanks to Ian(ArsP) via PiPs for novel (to me) process pointers.

Click the table below to go to a working Google spreadsheet

First Morning    
1.  Mix final levain build in 25˚C (77˚F) water.  Incubate @ 25˚C (77˚F). If possible (not essential), aerate levain and let rise 1-2X before using.                    
2. Mix final dough's flours in RT water.  "Enzymatically preferment" at 20-22˚C (68-72˚F).

First Evening
3.  Mix salt and levain into autolysed flour with pincer & FF until dough comes together.                     
4.  Bulk ferment ~2h @ 25˚C (77˚F) w/2-4 folds early.  Rest, shape & refrigerate.

Second Evening    
5. Proof 1-2h @ 20-25˚C (68-77˚F).                    
6. Bake 20' @ 230˚C (450˚F) w/steam, then 12' @ 215˚C (420˚F) with convection  (watch it), longer for loaves > 750 gr.

The "Rubaud*" flour mix is a slight modification of Gerard Rubaud's formula.  My "*" version is

35% AP
25% Bread Flour
30% Whole Wheat
7% Spelt
3% Rye

The process exploits Ian(ArsP)'s "enzymatic preferment" during Day 1.  In theory, this saltless soaker is intended to release free amino acids by proteolysis from seed storage proteins, enhancing Maillard activity in the oven.  It also performs as much conventional autolyse as any dough could ask for.  Aerating the levain (stirring it down) releases more free amino acids in the levain, and it's interesting to see it grow back up, in the couple of bakes (weekends) where I actually had a chance to do that.

As Ian(ArsP) points out in his blog, it's convenient to start the levain build and enzymatic preferment at the same time.  Easily done before leaving for work in the morning.  Mixing, folding and bulk are performed that evening, with the dough rested, shaped and refrigerated before bed.  The dough moves slowly during the 24h fridge retard, but comes back to life when retrieved to warm up while the oven is doing the same, or a bit longer. 

Earlier bakes (below) with this process were at 78% hydration.  Cutting back to 75% unflattened the profile nicely.

This one's a keeper.  I'm anxious to apply this process to formulae I've previously come to know and love.

Happy Baking and Happy Spring!

Tom

Half Baked's picture

First attempt at making Baguette with Poolish didn't come out too well...

April 8, 2013 - 7:19am -- Half Baked
Forums: 

Hi all, I found this site not long ago and it’s been nigh on invaluable after I recently got into baking. The tips and recipes have all really inspired me, and I have been happily experimenting away with different flours and types of bread for the last couple of months. I tried to test my abilities and learn some new skills over the weekend by using making a French Baguette using a poolish, and it failed and I’m really not too sure why, I was wondering if you ladies and gents had any suggestions as to where I went wrong?

 

Juergen's picture

The power of autolyse

January 28, 2013 - 7:40am -- Juergen

Over the past year I've had my fair share of sourdough breads ripping apart on the sides while baking. Ever since I've introduced the autolyse method at the mixing stage, these problems have disappeared. Even a minor autolyse of just 20 minutes makes a huge difference. To me, the autolyse method has been a real eye-opener and it has vastly improved the quality of my SD breads. Anyone else gotten the same experience with autolyse?

jimbodeuxe's picture

Autolysing, more or less, mixing by hand

November 3, 2012 - 2:04am -- jimbodeuxe

I am a weekend baker for the past 3.5 years and I stick to a pretty narrow repertoire of SD miche's, batards, baguettes and pizza dough (and a variation of pizza from Lebanon called manouche so that my wonderful wife doesn't repatriate).  I have a Compact but it really isn't big enough so half the time I do it by hand. I would grade myself an intermediate amateur home bread baker.

macvick1's picture
macvick1

I read the lesson on autolyse and it is not really correct. It refers to a 30 minute autolyse and says that it improves the flavour, talks about better flavour and mentions brighter crumb. I maintain that the flavour in sourdough comes from the starter and the subsequent fermentation and is obviously influenced by whatever else may be added. In fact salt level has a profound effect on flavour and performance.

All the parameters that a human beings use to evalauate their pleasure or displeasure whilst consuming anything involve appearance, touch, aroma, taste, mouth feel, initial flavour and after taste. In exactly the same way as wine we all have varied tastes so I dislike being told that something is better or worse. I actually think whiteness or brightness is irrelevant but it can be achieved by the addition of soya flour and is also influenced by the crumb structure itself. Big deep holes create shadows and cause less light to be reflected.

 

subfuscpersona's picture

Experiments with Autolyse

December 6, 2011 - 12:09pm -- subfuscpersona

A heads up to all bakers who use an autolyse in their bread baking -

Teresa Greenway (a home bread baker of consummate skill who has been sharing her knowledge on her blog  - http://www.northwestsourdough.com/discover/ - for many years) has posted two entries exploring the effect of an autolyse (the technique of mixing water and flour from your bread recipe and allowing it to rest for a period of time in order to develop the gluten in the bread dough).

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This is what I made for myself of all the things that I have learned so far.  I'm finding that there's a huge amount of information from various sources, all with spoon-fed amounts of usefulness.  So, here's my attempt to help others out there, whomever might actually find this.  Please note that my use of the word "yeast" means the brewer's instant yeast, and starter means the friendly creatures (or "the fish", as it is called in our home) that are cultivated from flour and water.  The numbered parts are all of the steps to actual bread making that I've found out.  I'm just now gleaning information about the preferment/poolish step (just learned a few weeks ago about the existence of such a step, and was relieved to find that "sponge" "poolish" "pate fermente" are all the same thing phew).  Here is basically what I've learned in the past four years:

 

EQUIPMENT    scale, oven peel/large spatula, unglazed quarry tiles or baking stone, measuring spoons/cups, bowls, wooden spoons, towels for bread, thin long stemmed thermometer to HIGH temperature

 

ABOUT STARTER

Not rigid method. Repeatedly successful recipes can fail.

Use variables to gain some control and predictability.

Variables include-- time, temperature, humidity, water quality, dough density/hydration

Use scientific method---only change one variable at a time

Starter bread characteristics:  large irregular holes, crumb, structure;  spreads, advantages (can make starter yourself, doesn't need extra food in the recipe, more room for creativity, ability to do more with texture and flavor, English Muffins, French bread), disadvantages (rise time less predictable, needs help to keep shape, needs to be tended and fed)

Starter eats flour, doesn’t eat sugar.  Any sugar in recipe you will end up eating yourself

Yeast bread characteristics—small crumb, regular small holes, less notable structure), tends to rise not spread, advantages (more predictable rise time, not need fed), disadvantages (cannot make yeast yourself, needs food added to recipe, flavor is entirely in the recipe--little creativity, has to be degassed)

 

MAKING STARTER

½ c whole grain flour with ¼ c water (equal weight).  Keep in glass or stainless steel with lid

Watch for life signs (bubbles) after 12 hours, if no signs for a few days, start over (check water quality)

Check the PH of your water---should be neutral or slightly acidic….basic is no good for starter. Add fruit juice or citric acid if needed

Feed when life signs, every 12 hours:  throw out ½ amount in there.  Put in exact same amount flour in there as in there already, plus ½ that in water (or equal weight of both)

*change container often*

Recommended stainless steel, glass, or glazed ceramic containers with lids (to keep bugs and children out, and moisture in)  starter reacts to most metals

After 3 days of consistent rising and falling, switch to white flour (to avoid bad critters)

Will smell like fish, should change to wheaty smell

After 1 week of consistent doubling, ok to use

Only use small amount of old starter to new starter (Tablespoon at most), keep discarding/baking—do not keep….ends up being a sponge not a starter

Note peak and fall times   starter:flour:water

Recommended 1:2:1 once a week feed fridge always, keeping Tablespoon amount or so

 

 

 

Once get good, can keep different teaspoon sized starters for each type of bread (CHEF)

More flavor=more time between feedings

 

1 PREPARE STARTER

Called preferment, sponge, poolish, bigas, levaine, pate fermentee (all the same)

Develops flavor, texture, lighter bigger air

More sour, more acid, longer shelf life

Note peak and fall times

Recommended 8-12 hours before dough mixing/kneading, 25% of total dough (so subtract from recipe flour and water used)

Add to bread at peak time

More starter % in bread, less proof time---acidity breaks down gluten

 

2 AUTOLYSE AND MIXING

Mix flour, water and poolish together, let rest five minutes or so (keeps from adding too much flour, and helps in kneading)

Most variable amounts are water and flour (coarse/fine ground flour, humidity, etc)

Set aside CHEF

Starter eats flour, doesn’t eat sugar.  Any sugar in recipe you will end up eating

oil--lending or not lending its flavor depends on recipe

Do NOT add salt directly to starter—mix in flour as a buffer first to keep starter alive

Do NOT use iodized salt—iodine becomes a gas in the oven—messes up your bread

 

3 KNEADING

-helps prevent too much flour being added--easier to add flour than water

-Palm push quarter turn only good for FLAT breads like pie crust, crackers

*Stretch&Fold:  adds air and builds structure—gluten sheath.  Also called French Kneading, or Slap Happy, etc.  Take the dough; slap the furthest side away from you down on the counter and away, while drawing the nearer side towards you.  Taking the nearer side in your palms (do not break, draw evenly like drafting wool) draw up and over further side, stretching sideways under and around, making a heart shape almost.  Make sure while you are drawing the dough over the further side to incorporate a nice big air bubble.  Turn the dough over and a quarter turn around (flip and turn like clockwise/counterclockwise).  Repeat.  Should change in feel and look—it will begin to pull dough off the counter and fingers.  Only dust the counter with flour if large pieces of dough are sticking—you want it to be tacky.  Shoot for 20 minutes of kneading. 

-Windowpane test—dough stretches between fingers fine enough to let light through without breaking

 

 

 

 

4 BULK FERMENTATION

Do not let ferment on pan---acidity tarnishes pans

Use oil to keep from sticking (using flour at this stage creates flour dumplings inside your bread)

Use heat during winter to help, especially in the North—direct heat ok at this step  70-90 degrees F optimal

Stretch and fold at least every thirty minutes to keep gluten structure from relaxing, and to distribute temperature evenly (fermentation heats up dough) S&F twice minimum during this stage

For smaller crumb, deflate while S&F

Bigger holes, keep as much air as possible

 

5 SHAPING AND PROOFING

This is the stage to choose your shape:  boule, baguette, loaf, braid, rolls, etc.  A shape doesn’t define a recipe, a recipe enhances the shape.  (good recipe, good rolls, etc)

Do not let proof on pan---acidity tarnishes pans

Starter spreads---need to use something to help.  Linen towels with flour method, proofing trays/counters, baskets heavily floured, etc.

use flour to keep from sticking--lightly

Do NOT use direct heat source (like oven light) to keep warm --creates a second crust that will not fill

Harder crust---use towel and let dry out to create a rind

Softer crust—let proof in moist environment (covered with bowl, etc)

More starter % in bread, less proof time---acidity breaks down gluten

Overproofing---when bread collapses---gluten stretched too far and cannot recover (make toast!)

Ready for oven:  when you poke it, it fills back your fingerprint but not all of the way

 

6 BAKING

Use flour on baking pan to keep bread from sticking (oil fries the bread and usually sticks)

Oven spring—put in already hot oven.  Oven high temp for 5 minutes, then lower temperature for optimal oven spring (example 450 degrees F, lower to 425 or 415)

Baking stone acts as heat sink to increase oven spring, can use unglazed quarry tiles---ALWAYS put into cold oven and let heat up and cool down with the oven (or break)

Slashing loaves a way to make the oven spring more predictable.  If bulges out near tray---temperature different in pan and air, etc.

Harder crust—spray dough with water right before putting in oven.  Do NOT steam oven directly if electronic---it will destroy oven entirely

Internal temperature 204 degrees F and above best indicator of doneness.  Cutting open stops the cool pressure cooker effect of the inside.  Thump test does NOT work.

If bread fell or didn’t bake well, make toast immediately

 

7 STORING

Sourdough:  Store in paper bag and bread cabinet if have one.  Fridge hastens going stale, Plastic keeps too much moisture

If bread contains milk products (milk, lots of butter or sourcream), or has a lot of moisture and sugar (cornbread or banana bread prime example of both), keep in fridge.  They only last about 2 days before going bad : (

Sourdough: make toast if going stale or out too long.  Bread should last for about 4 days, unless quick pour sugary breads like banana bread.

CaptainBatard's picture
CaptainBatard

The Auvergne Crown or Couronne shaped loaf, typically made from yeasted white bread dough, can be seen in almost every boulangerie throughout France. When I go to my local boulangerie it is displayed on the rack in the typical round shape along with an epi cut. What separates this Auvergne Crown from all the others is the use of the traditional firm French sourdough, levain, and a long slow rise that gives the wheat time to develop its full potential.  Although this is a simple white dough, this thick crusted bread has an unexpected flavor and quality.  I found the best way to eat this is to just tear off a piece…it exposes a crumb that is riddled with many different sized holes....

To read the full post come and visit Weekendloafer.com 

scottsourdough's picture

Add salt to overnight autolyse?

March 12, 2011 - 11:05am -- scottsourdough

So I've read that sometimes people add salt to soakers to constrain certain enzyme activity. Here's a post that taks about a lot of those specifics: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17415/baguettes-l039ancienne-cold-retardation. From what I understand, you would only want to add salt to a soaker if it contains flour, not just seeds.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

So I've been poring over some older TFL posts on autolyse, as well as other web sites. 

The traditional definition of autolyse means that only flour and water are combined to enhance flour hydration and gluten formation, with a host of other benefits. 

One post I found said that yeast should not be included in an autolyse because it can potentially form too acidic of an environment, which may not be conducive to flavor (or possibly to gluten development). I can imagine that the addition of lots of leaven (yeast, preferement, etc) could cause problems with autolyse, but I have never experienced this myself.  

My question is:

In your own experience, have you tried autolyse with yeast, as well as without? If so, what difference did it make in the final product for the same recipe? Note I'm not looking for theoretical answers here, i want to know if you were able to perceive a significant difference in the resulting bread. 

For me, I guess my next step will be to run some experiments, and compare the results of autolysed doughs which contain levain vs. those which don't. Considering doughs are autolysed 20 min to 1 hour, those are the intervals that I will be working with. 

 

 


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