The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French terms

Mr. B's picture
Mr. B

French terms

Daniel Wing in the book "The Bread Builders:......." mentions that he prefers the dough be on the stiff side, adding water to make it the consistency he feels is right. He says the water is incorporated into the dough much more easily than flour. He mentions a French term for this process of adding water to flour. Does anyone know what that term is? I had the book, but after a renewal, I thought I should let someone else have a chance to read the book.


Thanks,


B.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi


On pp74 Wing writes regarding the difficulties of wet dough, and the 2 different methods he offers: "One is to really beat up the dough, stirring it very vigorously, then stretching it way out of your bowl.   The other is to add less than the full amount of water, work the dough until it is smooth and stretchy, then add the rest of the water and work it in completely."


Personally, I go with the first way IF, I have a mixing machine.   The second way seems ridiculously hard, given that gluten is the insoluble element of the protein.   A semi-mixed tight dough is very difficult to soften with extra water.   I like Andrew Whitley's air-kneading, and many folks on here use Bertinet's techniques, or, a variation, plus stretch and fold along the way...much better ways I believe.


I'm a big fan of this book, don't get me wrong; no one has done more for artisan baking  than Alan Scott, and this book inspired me to build my own oven from the plans given.


The technique you refer to?? "Autolyse" [pp76].   It's the very opposite of the method Wing is using to me.   It's about loosely mixing flour and water, then leaving it for the flour to absorb extra moisture over a period of time.   This is to ensure proper hydration.   I do this for all wholemeal dough now, and tend to achieve way over 70% hydration as a result no problems.   And this is for a "standard tinned bread".


Hope this helps


Best wishes


Andy

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

I don't have the Wing book in front of me, but are you thinking of "petrissage" or "fraisage"?  The first word means to knead, the second is a the method that has you smearing the flour, yeast and water together in long strokes with the heel of your hand against the kneading board.  Danielle Forestier demonstrated this technique in her appearance on Julia Child's TV show.   


http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/free/baguette.html#


Barbara

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi


I've found it on pp9...."bassinage":


Andy

Bee18's picture
Bee18

Hi there,


If it is the word you are looking for, the meaning is to let the dough into its bowl (or basinne= basin) either to rest or either to be put next or in a source of warming ( the bowl into a bigger bowl containing hot water )


The verb bassiner ( from it come the adjectif bassinage ) has multi meanings. the bakers and pastry maker as well as the jam maker were using a bassinet = big bowl usually made of copper. bassiner = the action of putting water or other soft element in a bowl and let it there to stand or warm etc... it's also related to the action of warming a bed with a closed-bassinet containing hot embers (ancient time).


Out of its context I'm not sure what Wings means = but in my opinion there only 2 possible meanings : or warming or let it rest in the bowl ( may be like autolyse ).


If the book is in English may be there is a glossery at the end explaining the meanings . If the book is in French the complete sentence would probably help to understand. Anyway this words are pratically not anymore in use.


Bee


 

Bee18's picture
Bee18

I don't think that the word you are looking for is bassinage in regard of the action of adding water to a dough you are kneading. But the verb Incorporer mean exactly that: to introduce or to mix a substance usually water or white eggs cream butter sugar eggs or whatever to a cooking or baking preparation.


All the books I read, and google sites I inspected in French and English since I'm making my own bread always advise to add flour to a too wet dough and not the opposite.My experiences are the same, to add a liquid to a dough already mixed is pretty difficult. Oil is easier. You can try to knead the dough with wet hands using a bowl of water next to you where you can wet you hands again if necessary until the dough is right. But I would do that only by emergency... if I had mistaken the quantity of water in the beginning instead of throwing the dough to the bin...


Bee

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Bee,


I completely agree that you should add flour to water, and not the other way round.


I wouldn't want to use the method Wing suggests.


And I'm sure you are in a far better place than I am to confirm whether or not he is using the term correctly.   From what you write, I think he is not using it correctly; however, that is definetly the phrase:


"My preference is to err on the side of a slightly stiff dough initially, then to add a little water toward the end of kneading, a process known in French as bassinage."


Wing goes on to make the point that it is more difficult to develop the gluten in an overly-wet dough, which is true.   However, I completely agree with you that you should add flour to water.   This is surely why autolyse has become so popular?


Isn't it more about trying to know and understand the flour you are working with in the first place....and being able to weigh both the flour and water accurately and with confidence?   That way you add the correct amount of flour to the correct amount of water, set up the autolyse, then return half an hour later and complete the initial mixing cycle without any problem whatsoever.


Surely this is so much easier than delving into old French terms which seem to have fallen out of use?


Best wishes


Andy

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Bee [again]


In the glossary Daniel Wing describes bassinage thus:


"Adding water to a stiff dough to adjust its texture.   Much easier than adding flour to a dough that is too soft.   (French)"


I think you and I may be agreeing to differ with Mr. Wing here?


Best wishes


Andy

Bee18's picture
Bee18

Thank you for your approval. Of course I think that something is wrong with Wings.


I checked and rechecked myself going as far as the French Encyclopedia to find the word with all the meanings and explanatins. None of them was close to anything to do with bakers in the past a part from the word for the bowl which was in the past (even when I was young- 40 years ago ) une bassine -basin - or a bassinet - words that are not anymore in use.


And defenitvely flour to a soft dough and not water.


I think that the new books are so good today,that we can leave those old methods behind, certainely for basic instructions.


Cheers, Bee

DonD's picture
DonD

Hi Bee and Andy,


May I join in your discussion about Bassinage? The French website www.boulangerie.org which is the home of the Confrerie Nationale de la Boulangerie-Patisserie Francaise (French National Brotherhood of Bread and Pastry Making) publishes quite a few bread recipes which call for Bassinage which is the addition of a small quantity of reserved water at the end of kneading. I do not believe that the term itself offers any meaningful explanation of this process. I agree that adding flour to a wet dough is much easier but adding water to a stiff dough is hard but not impossible providing you use a mixer. As a matter of fact, the revolutionary cold overnight autolyse method used by Philippe Gosselin for his Pain a l'Ancienne (not the Peter Reinhart interpretation) calls for the same bassinage technique after an overnight cold autolyse and it is my favorite recipe for french baguettes.


Regards,


Don

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Don,


Thanks for joining this discussion; your contribution is very welcome.


I have seen some of the breads you make on your postings, and think they look fantastic.


I am really interested in what you have to write about here.   We all seem to agree that the term offers little meaningful as an explanation of the process.   I'm sure that is what Bee was arguing.   Also about adding flour to a wet dough.   Maybe you noted my comment that it is best of all to get the combination right in the first place through knowledge of the flour being used, and careful weighing of all raw materials?


Well, I've read about Gosselin in Daniel Leader's Local Breads, I believe?   I think you've raised the 2 important factors here; you need an electric mixer, and you need to be working cold.   I would concur with both of these, as a means to creating top class finished dough.   Now, I really must get round to doing more from Leader's book; I loved reading that when it first came out.


Don, good to hear from you and your comments seem very sound.   I've just posted my most recent offerings on my blog: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17308/semolina-durum-bread-and-sourdough-seed-bread


It would be great to hear back from you, or anyone active on the TFL site.


Best wishes


Andy

DonD's picture
DonD

Hi Andy,


Thanks for your kind words. I have followed your postings and always find them informative and insightful but unfortunately, having a full time design job does not leave me enough free time to post comments as often as I would like.


In 2003, Peter Reinhart in an internet e-mail described the formula given to him by Gosselin which clearly included the Bassinage step. Both Daniel Leader and Peter Reinhart have their own interpretation of Gosselin's Pain a l'Ancienne. Leader uses a liquid levain whereas Reinhart uses commercial yeast but both chose to omit the Bassinage step.


I have had great success using the original Gosselin recipe. I do not know if by holding back a small portion of the water and adding it at after the cold extended autolyse triggers some chemical reaction which helps further develop the dough in a superior way but I have done numerous side by side comparison with other recipes and Gosselin's bread consistently ends up with a gorgeous darker amber colored crust and an outrageous sweet taste.


Don

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The Gosselin baguettes have the best flavor I've every achieved in a baguette.


Here's a link with Gosselin's formula (as related to Peter Reinhart and reported in the e-mail to which Don referred):


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/8524/philippe-gosselin039s-pain-%C3%A0-l039ancienne-according-peter-reinhart-interpretted-dmsnyder-m


Enjoy!


David

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Bee, David, Don,


I've posted here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17308/semolina-durum-bread-and-sourdough-seed-bread#comment-113081


regarding your helpful ideas on the Gosselin formula, and on the concept of what "bassinage" may/not be.


I hope you find time to read it, but thanks to all for contributing to this discussion


Best wishes


Andy

Bee18's picture
Bee18

Thanks David for posting the link, and your adaptation, I already print it and will give it a go.


Thanks Andy and Don for opening this little forum which was very interesting and gave a bit of light and life to a subject that seems to be already chewed endlessly.


The thing that leave me a bit dreaming is that after the night autolyse in the fridge, you need to put the dough back in the bowl and mix it with the paddle and the hook... It seems to be against all the basic knowledge we got. I would thing it's an aberration. But I will try it with the 50 grm Rye as I don't like " white" bread. May be it's the addition of the Rye that made the water " bassinage" harder than expected.


If the Boulangerie.org said that bassinage is to add water after autolyse, then it's a professional word that was developped from the word bassinet by the bakers long time ago with the apparition of the Baguette around the 1920, and my old French Encyclopedea didn't have it listed.


It might ended similar to the Baguettes I ate in South West France 2 years ago which had sent me on the trail of making bread when I was back in Australia. I could never find a recipe for a Rye Baguette... but David might have done it by changing a bit the Gosselin Formula. What a joke it will be... Meanwhile I learned to do a starter and Rye bread and made many mistakes, but it was fun (and depressing too sometimes) but I got addicted to make bread once a week no matter what !


Hope all this had also help Mr. B. .... who was the first to put the subject on!


Cheers,


Bee

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Bee,


Have you read what Don has to say here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17308/semolina-durum-bread-and-sourdough-seed-bread#comment-113092 ?


If you follow more of this thread, you'll see that I'm working on this formula over the weekend.


Also, please note what Larry and I have written about tight dough, subsequently "let down" with extra water; it's a "no-no", or, maybe "non, non!", as some dreadful British woman PM was heard to utter sometime in the 1980s!


Best wishes


Andy

Mr. B's picture
Mr. B

Hello everyone,


And sorry I have not been back, but did not see the replies till a day or two ago.


Yes bassinage was/is the term as Andy refreshed my memory. I am afraid I don't have much to offer on the subject, in that I only saw the term in Wings book. And I am new to baking bread, and you all are worlds ahead of me.


As far as adding water to stiff dough, I did try several times. For me, it may be the impression of it being backwards, rather than the reality of it being more difficult, (that causes the distress. ????) It just seems at odds to all I have heard and done. I did not find it much more difficult, (than adding flour to wet dough) just a bit more mess. However, bread making has been a bit of a mess for me anyway,  and a little more mess might be expected. (The mess has gotten less, I am happy to say :)


Thanks again. It's been great reading all the comments here. I hope some day to move onto a higher level of bread making. I just now made my first whole wheat loaf (Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, a loaf for learning). This is to develop a basic technique for working with dough, and this is the stage at which I find myself. (The whole wheat loaf did turn out nice. She recommends three rises, which is a departure to what I have been doing.) I have developed a starter which I use for a basic sourdough bread, with some variations, but that's about it. Autolyse is next with whole wheat. I am anxious to try this technique. I had to knead, at least I felt I had to knead the dough much longer with whole wheat, (than with all-purpose), and hope autolyse will shorten, or improve the kneading process.


Hope all have a great weekend,


Mr. B