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Effects of choosing when to stretch-and-fold?

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venkitac's picture
venkitac

Effects of choosing when to stretch-and-fold?

I've been going thru a lot of bread books comparing the techniques presented by the authors in the last week or so. Most every book advocates Stretch&Fold, of course. But there seem to be a couple of differences in approach:


(a) Some books say consistenty for most recipes "S&F N times (depending on recipe, N is 1,2,3,4) at 20 mins intervals from the beginning, then let the dough double in bulk". This means that the dough is undisturbed for anywhere from 2-4 hours towards the end after the inital N S&Fs, when it doubles.


(b) I've read in atleast a couple of other books (Hamelman, Beranbaum) that it's a bad idea for bread with commercial yeast to ferment for more that 75 mins without receiving some form of handling to redistribute nutrients. In particular, if you look in Hamelman's books, all his recipes advocate S&F throughout the bulk fermentation at even intervals. But the dough still needs to double at the end too. This likely means that the fermentation time to double the dough is longer, because even if we're super gentle, we'll certainly lose some gas in each S&F and thus the end-to-end doubling time must be longer.


So with method (a), the time to double must be shorter than method (b). Since fermentation time is critical in the whole equation, but so is nutrient consumption by yeast, which way is "better" or "correct"?


The other issue here with method (b) above is that if I do S&F throughout (evenly distributed), sometimes dough doesnt' double because from the last S&F to end of bulk fermentation is only about 1 hour. For example, one of the recipes called for a 3 hour bulk, and folding at hour 1 and hour 2. At the end of 3 hours, I had dough that was barely 1.5 times in size. I'm guessing that is because I handled the dough too rough at hour 2 and let too much gas escape - does that sound right?


P.S. In addition to the above, *many many* recipes call for an overnight retardation in the fridge, particularly in Peter Reinhart's books. This clearly means no one is S&Fing it at 2AM:) Which is contrary to (b) above, but then again, the fermentation is much much slower. So I guess the nutrient redistribution doesn't need to happen because of the slower fermentation? Must be.


P.P.S I have been reading and thinking too much about bread. I woke up at 2AM today and went thru the whole analysis Debra and Dan did for my messed up sourdough (too much acid) in my head. Now I know I have a serious obsession, I should probably take a couple of days off from baking:)


 


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I wouldn't stress too much about when to do the stretch and fold sessions. If I do three of them I usually space them about 20 minutes apart and then do the bulk fermentation on the dough either on the counter or fridge until double.


Three stretch & fold sessions is usually enough for my doughs to attain the correct consistency (develop the gluten to the proper level and have a nice smooth dough).


--Pamela

venkitac's picture
venkitac

Hi Pamela, thanks for sharing. Yeah, you're right, it probably doesn't matter which way. Still, I'm very curious as to what would be the "right thing" and the science/theory behind it....

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I found a really nice blog detailing Hamelman's stretch and fold method and his Vermont SD that might be of some interest to you.


http://yumarama.com/blog/2009/06/vermont-sourdough-redux-step-by-step/


--Pamela

venkitac's picture
venkitac

Thanks! That's a great blog, and look at the loaves at the end. Looks awesome!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Stretch and fold has 3 main functions: 1) To develop the gluten in a gentler manner than machine mixing; 2) To organize the developing gluten strands; 3) To de-gas the dough and redistribute the yeast and the nutrients.


The number of folds depends on how much of 1) and 2) is needed. The timing depends on 3).


Two more points: 1) Hamelman does not say anywhere that the dough should double. He just prescribes time and temperature for the total fermentation. 2) Cold retardation slows fermentation, so folding is not necessary after the dough is cool enough to put the yeast to sleep. Hamelman does say you should fold the dough once or twice during the first hour of retardation, while the yeast is still active.


David

venkitac's picture
venkitac

Hi David, I think I didn't phrase my question quite right originally, see reply to Lindy.


 


Anyways, you're right: Hamelman never says that dough should double in bulk.So maybe it doesn't. I assumed it has to, for the final proof to work correctly for volume, but perhaps that's not true..

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Yeah, you're right, it probably doesn't matter which way. Still, I'm very curious as to what would be the "right thing" and the science/theory behind it...

I'm unsure if you have a copy of "Bread," Ventkitac.  If so, I believe Mr. Hamelman answers your questions at pages 17-18 where he discusses when to fold and the reasons why.  

In particular, if you look in Hamelman's books, all his recipes advocate S&F throughout the bulk fermentation at even intervals.

That's incorrect.  There are many recipes in "Bread" where the dough is not folded.  Further, he warns of the perils of overfolding and building too much strength in the dough.

In fact, at page 18 Mr. Hamelman points out that doughs with a short bulk fermentation and doughs that are stiff do not require folding.  

If you have the book, do take your time reading it from cover to cover.  It's a treasure trove of knowledge.

 

venkitac's picture
venkitac

Hi Lindy,


I didn't phrase my question correctly, sorry for that. I did not mean to imply that Hamelman advocates folding always. I also understand the reasons for folding (page 15-18). My question is a more specific "when do I fold". (Yes, Hamelman has a section on when to fold, and that's directly related to my question). More clearly phrased, my question is this:


- Hamelman suggests that for doughs that need folding, especially with commercial yeast, you should not really leave the dough unhandled for more than 75 mins or so. In addition, *for the breads that need folding during bulk fermentation*, in most cases Hamelman advocates evenly spaced folds throughout the bulk fermentation.


- Many other books suggest that for the doughs that require folding, do folds at 20-40 minute intervals in the beginning, and after the requisite number of folds, leave the dough to double for anywhere from 2-4 hours.


My question was specifically contrasting effects of the choice of times/intervals of folding in these two different methods (do folds evenly spaced during bulk fermentation, vs do folds in the beginning of the bulk fermentation, then let dough double), that was all.