The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First attempt at Autolyse

gingerbob's picture

First attempt at Autolyse

Thanks for everyones comments on how I can take the next step in my baking - but I think I am missing something major!


I have read as much as I can online, checked for videos, and looked in The Bread Bakers Apprentice about Autolyse.


Am I right in thinking that it is as simple as mixing water and flour together, leaving to rest, then adding yeast and salt and kneading?


Today I tried it again, and the dough was very wet.


250g Strong White Flour

175g warm water


 - mix

 - leave for 30 mins


The dough is still wet at this stage


 - add 5g instant yeast

 - add 5g salt


Mix. Still a very wet dough, even after doing the whole stretch and fold kneading the dough is wet - and after leaving to rise for 1 hour it seems to fail to rise.

What basic step am I completely failing on?



amolitor's picture

It should be pretty wet. You're at 70 percent hydration, it's gonna be wet! I think that much water makes a dough that almost "pours". Dough development by S&Fs will make it a sort of stretchy pourable thing, it'll pour (very very slowly) but hang together and elongate. (I think -- someone check me on this?)

Slow rising is good, without any kneading it takes a long long time to develop the gluten enough. Several hours, generally.

When it's got enough gluten development, you can shape loaves that hold their shape because of the gluten -- everything is still very wet, but it's springy enough to hold a shape if you do it right.

This is a somewhat challenging road you've taken -- that's a wet dough to be working with.

gingerbob's picture

Cheers for taking the time to reply.

I am following the recipe in "Dough", and when I just mixed it normally it seemed to hold together better.

What recipe would you suggest?

How long should can I leave it to rise? Can I leave it during the day (9 hours)?



amolitor's picture

High hydration doughs are more theoretical to me than something I understand ;)

I would not leave it out for 9 hours, but in the fridge it should be fine.

As for a recipe to start with, that depends a LOT on where you're at. If this is your first loaf of bread ever, I think this web site here has some excellent stuff under "Lessons". If you're fine with bread in general, but you're experimenting with very wet doughs, I'd stick with what you're doing and when it's risen enough, bake it and see what happens!

In fact, if you're looking at a pile of wet dough right now, I'd let it rise, and bake it no matter what!


drdobg's picture

Essentially you can use an autolyse for any of your artisan style breads by mixing the flour and water and even a natural leavener (poolish, sourdough starter) to a shaggy mass (1-2 minute maximum mix) and then leave covered with plastic in your mixing bowl for up to an hour.  After this period of time you can add IDY yeast or dry yeast and salt and mix for additional time to finish your dough, incorporate your salt (and any additional yeast) and then leave for your S&F maneuvers.  The moisture activates natural enzymes in the flour to begin to convert starches to sugars, among other chemical reactions, to coax more flavor from your flour. This autolyse process is inhibited by the action of yeast or salt, less so by sourdough starters or "levains".

As far as the recipe above, it is a very high hydration dough for starters.  Cutting back to 60% hydration (150 ml H20) would make for a more workable dough.  I believe you need to work up to these higher hydration doughs to develop a comfort level with these very slack doughs.  Shaping techniques become crucial as the doughs become higher hydration to get a final product that resembles a loaf.

Good luck and keep baking!

gingerbob's picture

Cheers guys.

Looking around on here (yes, Im very keen to progress) - and have found 2 things!


First off that the kneading I am doing (out of "Dough") is called French Fold - and secondly - and more importantly:-

Main thing is it says to probbly not use anything less then 500g of Flour, and that 65% hydration can be tried.

Looks like the oven will be on again tonight :)