The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


csimmo64's picture

To autolyse or not to autolyse, that is the question.

September 14, 2010 - 7:02pm -- csimmo64

Is it wise to autolyse?

Okay, enough of that but my question is this;

Is it a good idea to utilize the autolyse method for each and every type of bread? What types of textures/changes happen if used and not used? I've recently been using autolyse on every bread at work, and I am liking some of the results.

These are some types of breads that I would like to know if its a good choice to autolyse, for example;

venkitac's picture

Autolyse question

June 30, 2010 - 10:56am -- venkitac

I've been reading a bit about what autolyse does, and it seems mostly for improving dough extensibility and not so much elasticity. That being said, when would you *not* do an autolyse? Would you do it for Rye or 100% wholegrain breads? It seems to me that it is always a good idea, but I have seen several recipes from respectable books (like ABAP, Bread) which do not specify an autolyse, which makes me believe there's some kind of tradeoff here.

sebasto06's picture

from a bread newbie : long autolyse + cold and long fermentation makes a killer bread !!!

June 3, 2010 - 8:52am -- sebasto06

Hi to all of you guys and girls, and thanks a million for this precious website.

I'm french, and pretty new to making bread even though i've always dreamed to. I just love bread and, unfortunately, the bread you can find nowadays in french bakeries is pretty much unedible nine times out of ten. Tasteless, chewless and essentially stale only a couple hours after you bought it, not even mentioning the price which, sincerely, gets just about scandalous these days...

DrPr's picture

How can I achieve a less dense crumb?

April 20, 2009 - 6:27pm -- DrPr

I made a rustic white bread using Nancy Silverton's recipe from her Breads from La Brea Bakery book. This is my first time baking in cold weather and I'm thinking low fermenation temperatures might be the problem, since I've used this formula before with no problems.  I know my starter is healthy and performing well, so I am confident we can remove that from the equation. Here is what happened:

KosherBaker's picture

Here is my crack at terminology that is commonly used in bread baking. It's a start, with a hope that with some comments these will be corrected and added on to.

Poolish - A French term. Uses commercial yeast. An aged mixture that is made up of equal amounts of water and flour, by weight, and a small (tiny) amount of yeast. (1)

Biga - An Italian term. Uses commercial yeast. An aged mixture that is made up of water and flour, which may but do not have to be of equal amount. A tiny amount of yeast is also added to this mixture.A Poolish is really just a form of Biga. A Sponge is the English term for Biga. (1)

Starter - An English/American term. An aged mixture that is usually maintained in a very small amount, that is used to start or seed a larger mixture that is then called a preferment. A starter made from commercial yeast is called a straight dough starter and a starter made of wild yeast is called a sourdough starter.

Pate Fermente - A French term. A small piece of dough reserved from the previous batch of bread. This is the only preferment that may contain salt in it.

Preferment -  An English/American term. An aged mixture whose primary purpose is to impart a maximum amount of flavor to the resulting bread. This mixture is allowed to fully ferment before (pre-) being added to the final dough mix. Examples are: Sponge, Poolish and Biga.

Autolyse - A French term. A technique where gluten containing flour and water are mixed and aged for a desired amount of time to arrive at desired gluten development level and flavor characteristics. There are no other ingredients present except flour and water. And flour has to contain gluten.

Soaker -  An English/American term. An aged mixture whose primary purpose is to hydrate the dry ingredients that are to be used in the final dough. The dry ingredients are gluten free.

High Extraction Flour - An English/American term. It is a flour that is between White and 100% Whole Wheat. It has a certain percentage of Bran and Germ removed.

Patent Flour - An English/American term. White Flour which was extracted from the central most part of the endosperm. Is considered to have the highest quality of gluten. (1)

Clear Flour -  An English/American term. White Flour which was extracted from the outer parts of the endosperm. Around the part where the Patent Flour was extracted from. (1)


Difference between Starter, Sponge, Biga and Poolish. Well Poolish has equal amounts of water and flour. Biga and Sponge are the same to the best of my knowledge. A Starter is more clearly defined in a professional bakery environment where a small amount of left over preferment is reserved to be used in the next preferment. The amount of preferment mixed contains a small excess that is fully fermented. Then the small excess is extracted to be used in the following preferment, and the current preferment is added to the dough for the current batch of bread.


(1) Source J. Hamelman "Bread"


Edit 09/14/2008

Today I saw a FAQ page so I thought I'd link to it from here:

nosabe332's picture

first time ciabatta, autolyse, preferment questions

March 4, 2008 - 10:54pm -- nosabe332

hi all,

baker in oakland, calif. 

i recently renewed my interest in baking, but having lost interest in the more expensive form of pie-making, have decided to jump into bread-making.

 here's a picture of my ciabatta, made from this recipe:

 ciabatta number 1

Thegreenbaker's picture

Little effort, perfect bread-I just had to to come soon.

May 1, 2007 - 7:41pm -- Thegreenbaker


Yesterday I had to make some sandwich loaves.

I have been sticking with Monkeys' biga vs straight Whole-Wheat buttermilk Bread experiment recipe

I love this recipe. Even when you dont make the biga, it is still delicious! I add some rye flour and a tiny amout of white italian flour to give it a bit of extra help in the softness department, but I think now it doesnt really need it.


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