The Fresh Loaf

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When and how to add butter?

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will slick's picture
will slick

When and how to add butter?

Hello, I am having a small but annoying problem with a bread formula. I have a generic recipe for Maltese bread. it is basically 600g flour, 345g water, TBS milk, ts yeast, 15g sugar, 10g salt, and 15g butter. The butter is the problem I take great care to use all the techniques i have learned to make the best loaf I can. I Autolyse the flour and water then add the yeast and rest again. After that I add the rest of the ingredients. What happens is once the butter starts to melt all the care I took to develop the gluten was for nothing. The dough gets slimy and stringy. Then with more rests and a little flour it comes together. I need to find out the best time and method for adding what comes to about 1TBS of butter. I have been adding it at room temp. Should I melt it? At what point in the build should I add the butter? Thanks for any help.


Will

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I add butter to sandwich breads all the time. For that type of bread, I add it at room temperature by mixing it in with the flour and salt before I add the yeast. No problems doing it that way.


You probably could melt it and then add it with the milk.


For the wheat bread that I most recently made, I added it with the last of the ingredients after both bits of flour got a sufficient soak. This produced a slimy, sticky dough until I folded the dough in on the butter a bit and then turned my KA up to speed 3. I've done it by hand, though, as well. As long as you knead long enough, gently but firmly, it should go into the dough.

proth5's picture
proth5

my take is that you are going to a bit too much trouble.


Are you using an electric mixer?  I am pretty much assuming you are, but my same general advice holds for mixing by hand.


Typically with an enriched bread like that and with that small of an amount of butter, I would use the butter at "cool room temperature" and mix all the ingredients first at a slow speed and then at a higher speed until the gluten is developed.  Some people recommend that you hold out the salt and mix it in last - I disagree.


What you are experiencing is that the effort required to mix the butter after you have significant gluten development is melting the butter and making the stringy mess.  As the whole thing cools down and gets folded or re mixed the butter incorporates.


My advice would be somewhat different if this was a very large amount of butter.


Not all breads need an autolyse, nor do they all benefit from the approach you describe.  Techniques differ for lean (flour/water/leaven only) breads and more enriched breads (add butter/sugar/milk).  Techniques also differ from baker to baker - but I have looked deeply into the topic of enriched breads and this is my personal advice.  Other will disagree.


Hope this helps.

will slick's picture
will slick

For taking the time to help me out, and for sharing your expertise. I will post here and let you know how it works for me.


Will

will slick's picture
will slick

Proth you and  Stephanie, are telling me the same thing just mix all the ingredients at once. Since this is just a one loaf formula I have been mixing it by hand. When I first started making it I mixed with my K.A. The problem became more pronounced when I could feel the dough go slimy. Thanks guys, sometimes simpler is better. Proth I am curious what your advice would have been if the butter were a higher % of the flour?

proth5's picture
proth5

If I were making something like a brioche - with butter at 50% of the flour and for which I desire a more "bready" texture, I would use the butter cold, but "platicized" (take a cold block of butter and pound it thin with a rolling pin or whatever else is handy to make it flexible). I would then develop the gluten in the flour, etc mixture almost (but not quite) completely, then add the butter in pieces and then mix to develop the gluten fully. 


I would not do this by hand - I would use a mixer.  It would be too strenuous to do by hand.


Using the butter cold means that the added heat from the mixing will not melt it and turn the dough into a greasy mass.


If I were making something like a Sally Lunn where I wanted a "cakey" texture, I would use butter as prepared above, but add the butter towards the beginning of the mix.  Gluten development will be sacrificed, but that will result in the softer texture.


Hope this helps.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi WILL
and thankyou for the response to my call for maltese bakers and bread. With your butter addition you can really add it at any time, i usually like to get it in all at the begining, i have seen the chefs at the technical college instructing young chefs to add at the latter stages of the dough formation, but i am more worried about over mixing when added late. I really havent seen any ill effects from adding at the begining but i have seen some over mixed doughs and also poor incorporation of fats into doughs.
With the butter as long as it is not hard as a brick it should assimilate quite easy, At the technical college we get more broken mixers especially hobarts when the students add butter straight from the fridge and try to wind the bowl up and break the lift mechanism which is plastic inside.
regards Yozza

will slick's picture
will slick

I love making this bread that has ties to my heritage. When people ask me what makes this bread Maltese I reply, Because its made by the Maltese or of the Maltese! I had this formula for a while but only tried it after your post. It makes a wonderful every day sandwich/ toast bread.