The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Windowpane test

sdionnemoore's picture

Windowpane test

I have made a few of the recipes in PR's BBA book. Tonight, as I was mixing for the Anadama bread, I had a problem with the dough being too wet. So during knead time I was forced to add probably a cup of flour, little by little, in order to get something akin to the dough he describes. But when I go to do the windowpane test, the dough, as it has once before, kind of rips and tears apart. It's not smooth and thin and light, like I've seen in videos of the windowpane method.


Does this mean I am not kneading enough? Should I wait and get the dough as close to workable before starting knead time? And why am I having to add so much extra flour anyway? I did make a few changes. *gulp* I used regular cornmeal instead of coarse and had to use 4 T honey because I ran out of molasses. The only other thing I did differently was to use a mix, about half and half, of bread flour and white whole Wheat, instead of the all bread flour he suggests. Did those changes have huge impact on the dough consistency? 

dmsnyder's picture

I've found that Reinhart's measurements of ingredients are reliable. His mixing times are not. They tend to be short, compared to what I need with my mixer. After many experiences much like the one you described, I began mixing longer- until the dough was "right" -  and avoiding adding more flour. My breads improved enormously.

Parenthetically, this is in contrast to Leader in "Local Breads," whose ingredient weights are incorrect in several formulas but whose mixing times seem pretty spot on.


xaipete's picture

Well said, David.


AllenCohn's picture

Substituting WW flour would definitely decrease the structure of the dough and thus make the windowpane more likely to rip. The bran cuts the gluten strands.

Be sure you're weighing, not volume measuring the flour.


sdionnemoore's picture

when a dough is "right." I thought the windowpane test proved when a dough was right. I'm assuming that the tearing means the dough hasn't been kneaded long enough. . . ? *baby steps* Which means I need to knead longer, until the dough will pass the window pane test. . .??

sdionnemoore's picture

It turned out perfect. Well, perfect for me. It is wonderfully light and pillowy soft. I added sesame seeds to the top of one loaf, cornmeal to the other. Love the sesame seeds. I'd post a pic but my camera batteries are dead. I'm so excited though that the bread turned out.

I also tried PR BBA pizza crust. I'll use a rolling pin next time though, when I picked it up to stretch it, it stretched really thin in the middle (talk about a dough that would pass the windowpane test!) and ended up being too thick on the edges. I'll know next time and use the pin to make it more consistent. So much for learning to sling dough like they do at pizza parlors. :)

nova's picture

Allen's comment about the whole wheat is spot on, but all is not lost....if you substitute half Bread Flour with Whole Wheat (WW), you could autolyze for 30 minutes before continuing, but without yeast and salt.  You can get a good window pane with WW but usually requires more mixing.  And adding flour gradually little by little also would impact the window.  Autolyze cures a mountain of "sins"...if you needed to add more flour bit by bit, you can autolyze again afterwards....BUT, again, you do not want your yeast and salt in the dough if you are resting the dough for these long periods.  Once all the flour has absorbed the moisture, then salt and yeast can be added.  After enough kneading, you should get a reasonably good windowpane, but it will be speckled and mottled due to the bran particles and any other grain components that are not bread flour.

Good Luck!