The Fresh Loaf

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Soaker vs. Autolyse and related questions

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UnConundrum's picture
UnConundrum

Soaker vs. Autolyse and related questions

I started grinding my own flour about 4 months ago and quickly learned that I didn't like the results if I used the flour immediately.  On the other hand, if I used the fresh ground in a soaker overnight, the results were wonderful.  Obviously the enzymes did their job as expected.  Following the "soaker" recipes I've seen, I add the salt for the entire recipe to the soaker.  On the other hand, an autolyse leaves the salt out, but for a much shorter time.  I'm curious as to the rational behind the different salt treatment.  Also, I use 50% KAAP in my breads.  Would it benefit from an autolyse with the white flour and remaining water? 


 


40% whole wheat 10% spelt 80% hydration

grind's picture
grind

I started grinding my own flour about 4 months ago and quickly learned that I didn't like the results if I used the flour immediately.


 


Gee, I don't know the answer to your querry but can you tell me more about what you didn't like about using freshly ground flour right away.  Unconundrum me.  Cheers, grind.

BettyR's picture
BettyR

When I use the freshly ground flour it reminds me of what bread would be like if I used sawdust as part of my flour. It has a grainy, crumbly texture and a raw taste even after it’s cooked. But I have found that if I grind up about 10 pounds of flour and stick it in the freezer and let it sit for at least 2 days before using it, then it’s fine. Of course it takes longer to use up the whole 10 pounds but I keep it in the freezer the whole time so the oils in the fresh flour don’t go rancid. 


 


When I make my bread I put all my ingredients in, mix it well and let it sit for 30 minutes before kneading, proofing, shaping, proofing and baking. I use 50% bread flour and get a really wonderful loaf.

amolitor's picture
amolitor

Some people think that salt retards various activities (yeast growth, for instance, which is not relevant to soakers/autolyzes). Certainly the chemistry is going to be slightly different with or without the salt. It's quite likely that the chemistry isn't going to be enough different to matter, frankly. We use very small amounts of salt, in biochemical terms, for breads.


Salt is not always added to "soakers" (see The Village Baker for instance, which has a couple of pain bouille style breads, and the salt is, I think, never added to the porridge).


I would bet that it's one of the many 'we've always done it this way, why would we change something that's known to work?' deals we find in bread making. If you experiment, let us know the results!


 

charbono's picture
charbono

Salt is in the soaker to inhibit protease activity.  Amylase activity is still enabled.  Reinhart recommends salt in the soaker proportionate to the total formula.


Salt is left out of a short autolyse in order that nothing interfere with water absorption.


 

UnConundrum's picture
UnConundrum

Quote:
Salt is left out of a short autolyse in order that nothing interfere with water absorption.

Thanks Charbono, that's the factor I was missing.


 


As to why I don't like the un-soaked fresh ground... well, I haven't done it again, but it was bitter to my memory.  It was so bad I was ready to give up grinding after the first try.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Charbono,


I could not have put it better myself.   That is my understanding too


Andy

amolitor's picture
amolitor

Does protease activity occur in the non-leavened soakers? I seem to recall vague references to it, but I'm not sure. I didn't mention protein-eating chemistry in my remarks because I couldn't really remember, and I was pretty sure the big ones are a result of the microbes.


 

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Hi!  I have read that flour needs to "age". Ask the baker's at King Arthur and they can tell you how long you are supposed to store it before you use it.   Have fun, Pam

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Pam,


You are absolutely correct.   Commercial bakeries in the UK would generally expect their miller to have aged the flour for at least 30 days before delivering it to the bakery.


One reason, and we are primarily talking about white flour here, is that the baker would expect the flour moisture content to be at a level where there will be no issues of potential moulding.   This would give a guaranteed shelf life for the flour.  I presume, also, that excess moisture in the flour will encourage other activity which will be unwanted, such as enzymatic.   If this happens, the baker will have to deal with unstable dough as the final stages of proof, and, oven loading time, are reached.   The problem will be gummy dextrins, much the same as if the flour had been ground incorrectly and there was an excess of starch damage.


I am truly fascinated by this, and would welcome any input from those with experience of using freshly milled flour.   I am only familiar with the Desem Bread which the late, and much missed Alan Scott used to make so beautifully as a bread which had to be made with freshly milled wholemeal flour.   I know there are people on TFL making beautiful bread with their own ground flour.


What are your experiences in this regard, I'd love to know?   The concept is so attractive to me, but, as a commercial operator, I have never yet experimented in this area.


Thanks


Andy 

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Hi Andy,  Thanks for the additional information.   I didn't know why the 'aged' flour.  Pam

UnConundrum's picture
UnConundrum

You can either use fresh ground flour right away (I think it's a few days) or you have to age it.  Using it within the window preserves the most vitamins and flavor, but IMHO, it must be soaked so the enzymes can work on the flavors I don't like.  This has all been explained down in the home milling sub-forum.  I believe they said there are some acids that are neutralized by the enzymes when you soak the flour.


 


That other thread is HERE