The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to work large amounts of dough by hand

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SamG's picture
SamG

How to work large amounts of dough by hand

Hi


I have been trying to find information about how bakers used to mix and knead large amounts of dough by hand? What were the batch sizes and optimal amounts of dough that were worked before mixers were around? Anyone out ther that can help me with this information?


Thanks....


Sam

Comments

ericb's picture
ericb

Sam,


This doesn't answer your specific questions, but it might be helpful.


I have seen a video somewhere on this site where the baker uses what appears to be a clear, Rubbermaid-type storage bin to mix and knead a large amount of dough. I think he was demonstrating the "stretch and fold" method of kneading, so the dough never needs to leave the bin. For fermentation, just put the lid on it.


It seems like a good idea, and I've been meaning to try it myself at some point.


 


eric


 

SamG's picture
SamG

Eric


The vidios from the Milawa (I think that is how they spell it) bakery show them using stretch and fold after they remove the dough from the mixer. Their vidios are good I wish they would post some more. If you run across any more please let me know.


Sam

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

What I have read is that bakers used to work the dough 2 folks at a time -- one each on each side of a low dough "tub".  First one would fold to the other and then that person would fold back.  Then turn 90 degrees and continue.  Don't remember a batch size but most likely big.


The largest size I work by myself is about 9 to 10 pounds  -- would be interested to know if others work larger batch sizes by hand.  I also have two Rubber Maid 12 quart plastic tubs that I use.  If doing a 10 pound batch I divide it in "half" and then I can do stretch and fold in the tub.  Mark's Back Home shows this in one of his videos.


Dave

SamG's picture
SamG

Dave


Thanks for the info.Do you think they did the kneading in the dough trough or on a bench? I have not made any large batches yet so I was wondering what the practice was prior to mixers being around.


Sam

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

I have looked but can't find where I was reading about this.  What I remember is that the two baker work on each side of at dough trough.  Lifting and folding the large batch to each other.  I think that the batch size was such that they had to get their forearms under the dough to lift towards each other.  I think this was in a large bakery in France.


I keep looking for the reference -- I really like learning about the history of bread baking.


Dave

possum-liz's picture
possum-liz

My regular batch size is about 5 kg (about 12 lb) and I mix and knead in a big plastic tub. Then I tip the dough out to do the stretch and folds. I find that up to about 7 kg is manageable but after that it's too hard.


Liz

SamG's picture
SamG

Liz


When you mix and knead do you knead the dough to full development or do you depend on the stretch and fold for most of the development? Do you keep everything in the same tub until you form loafs?


Thanks...


Sam

SamG's picture
SamG

Hi Guys


Thanks for your observations. If you happen to run into any more information on the subject please let me know. I am amazed at how little information I can find on older techniques. You would think there would be quite a bit of info on the subject considering that for the entire history of humanity, except for the last few hundred years, this process was a daily activity.


Cheers....


Sam

Crider's picture
Crider

He's only making nine pounds of dough, but demonstrates a good hand technique and has a great spiel about the basics.

And part two.

SamG's picture
SamG

Crider


 


Thanks for the fantastic link. I have watched 7 of his videos; the guy is good.


 


Sam

possum-liz's picture
possum-liz

Sam


I'm pretty slack at dough development. I do about 3or 4 short kneads at what ever interval I have time and then I rely on the stretch and fold for the rest. I sort of balance between the two methods depending on my work schedule.


 If I'm doing a lot of bread (I bake for our local farmers's market occasionally), I put the dough in a big plastic bag so I can use the tub again. Then I can put it in the frige or the cooler to retard if I'm doing that.


Liz

rolls's picture
rolls

a great video to watch is on the sbs food safari site. go to food art i think its called woodfired italian bread something like that anyways it shows two old italian ladies with a brick oven in their back yard, kneading a huge amount of dough which they use to make pizza and hearth breads. worth watching. its a really good site altogether. the pastizzi clip is worth watching also.

leucadian's picture
leucadian

There's a great story in Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's book 'Home Baking' about visiting a Portuguese mountain village, and meeting Margarita, who with her friends was baking bread in a communal oven the next day. Each woman apparently had a tray/trough about 4 feet by 2+ feet, and he said it contained 35 pounds of dough. It was a very wet rye bread, maybe 30% rye, and the gluten was developed by stretching and folding. There was a bulk fermentation and very little shaping and proofing before baking. These were not young women, if you go by the photograph, and this was a weekly routine for them, so they must have been adept at handling these doughs. I would guess that they wouldn't take on susch a big load if the dough were stiff. By the way, the book is remaindered at Amazon for $15, from a list of $40. Order it through TFL.


Also, here's a video of Anis Bouabsa standing next to his mixer in operation, and the action is identical to a person thrusting his hands into a ball of dough, bringing them together and lifting. Also, I believe the same word petrin is used for both a dough trough and a mechanical mixer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8W3gNNZf4k&feature=PlayList&p=6E6BBA0AA0B9ED81&index=0&playnext=1


Finally, I have an image in my mind of a woodcut that showed a man standing over a dough trough, but I can't find the original to send you. But I did find a Bread Museum in Portugal (http://www.museudopao.pt/) that has a model of a preindustrial bakery, and if you watch the videos you'll see the same action. The trough there looks to be smaller, maybe 3 feet by 1.5 ft.


Further edit: The video mentioned above shows one woman kneading dough for 30 loaves, using a folding technique in a galvanized washtub. I'd guess the total weight around 50 lbs. http://www.sbs.com.au/food/foodart/210/Wood-Fired_Bread:_Italian_Style