The Fresh Loaf

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I found I have no idea how to knead

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coffeetester's picture
coffeetester

I found I have no idea how to knead

So with my SD starters not old enough to do anything I decided to try this recipie


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5341/bad-boy-poolish


My poolish developed well. It was 1.5 times bigger then 12 hours before. I followed the mixing directions but when it came to kneading it I was lost. Here are some of the things I have questions about:


1. I started in a bowl after mixing and tried to knead it around. I found after 4 minutes my arm tired so much and could not use both. I then moved to a granite counter top (68 degrees F)


2. The dough was so sticky I had a nice layer. How sticky should it be to knead


3. After 7 minutes of kneading and the stickyness not going away I decided to add flour. At what point should I add flour. If my hydration is correct should I need extra flour. If it was raining yesterday in California could that be why I needed more


4. I ended up with a nice ball at the end but the texture looked floured and not glistening.


5. What is the Windowpane test. I could not find a good definition


 


So at the end I ended up with a dough that when stretched you could see it stretching and I think this is what you want. Any information would be appreciated.


 


Mike

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I just first admit that I am not thrilled with the formula you used but, inasmuch as that appears to be the foundation of the discussion, I'll try to offer some ideas.


I suspect you may be putting too much energy into the kneading process.  A picture is worth a thousand words:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWj8oHMPFm0


You want to stretch the dough but try not to tear it while kneading.


"How sticky should it be" depends on what degree of hydration you want in the prepared loaf when it is loaded into the oven.  Generally speaking, a wet/sticky dough (e.g Ciabatta) will give you a more open crumb.  A more dense stiff dough will produce a tighter crumb.  You can overcome some of the stickiness in kneading highly hydrated dough by oiling your hands, using flour to coat your hands (but that doesn't last very long as the dough absorbs the additional flour) keeping your hands wetted with cold water or wearing food safe gloves.


By adding flour you, of course, affected the level of hydration and stiffened the dough.  That resulted in a dough that needed to be kneaded even more to incorporate the flour into the rest of the dough mass.  Whether or not you needed more flour is not something that is easy to answer without having experienced the actual texture/appearance of the dough.


Yes, a rainy day can affect the way your dough responds.  Rain means higher levels of humidity and humidity affects hydration.


Based upon your description of the "nice ball" at the end you probably needed either more kneading or more water in the mix; or both.


The window pane test is a process by which you take a small amount of your dough, a couple of tablespoons is usually enough, press it flat into a "pancake" and stretch it gently (like you were making a pizza crust) in front of a llight source.  If your very gentle with it and work slowly you will find that it eventually becomes quite thin at it's center and you can observe the interlocking strands of gluten to determine if you dough is ready for the next step.


Once again, a picture is worth a thousand words:


http://how2heroes.com/videos/techniques/bakers-tip-pulling-a-window-pane

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

I've been baking for several years and I watched the videos. I never quite understood the window pane thing either. Thanks for the visuals FW.


Trish

coffeetester's picture
coffeetester

I watched both videos. I see where I started wrong and that was not flouring my hands (Or water or oil). I followed the kneading process close. I would use the tension from granite to hold the ball and then push it away and then bring it back to me. I defiantly need more practice kneading. I might just make a standard yeast loaf tomorrow to just practice. Does any one have a cheaper way to perfect this method?


 


The oven is on and the DO is warming. Lets see how this come out. Its my first loaf that actually took more then 2 hours to proof.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You could use modeling clay or clay but it wouldn't be cheaper and it is similar but not the same.  Kneading uses the whole upper body and power should be coming from your shoulders with the movement of your torso through extended arms.  Elbows are more involved when the dough is folded over or turned.  If all the work is being done with your forearms and fingers, then you will tire sooner.  Think palm--shoulder--back, shifting weight for pushing.  Knead on a surface that is comfortable in height and avoid low tables where you must bend too far over the dough.


The quicker you work, the less chance the dough has to stick to the surface and the less flour you need.   There are many methods of kneading and different doughs will require more than one or a different technique.  Find the ones that work for you.


Mini

coffeetester's picture
coffeetester

I got the boule made and into the 500 degree DO. I lowered the temp to 450. I baked about 30 minutes. I had to push the thermometer pretty hard to break the crust. I then baked until 205 was achieved (20+ more minutes).


 


flournwater's picture
flournwater

Congratulations  -  looks like a pretty good start.  Remember that we don't usually learn anything new from our successes, only from our mistakes.  Stay at it and adjust (but only one technique in the process at a time) as necessary.  You're doing just fine.

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

What F&W said is so true. Making bread is an ongoing process that can literally last for years! - at least in my case =).


 


Trish

rolls's picture
rolls

Sorry but when I saw the title of ur thread I was just expecting someone to jump in and mention the bertinet video, his way of working the dough is amazing and it's what I use all the time now, in fact I jus used it today will try to post a link for u though if u do a search he is mentioned heaps. It's easy to feel and see the diff stages the dough goes thru. you definately don't need to add any extra flour or anything or worry bout how gentle to be and it jus comes together beautifully in the end.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I agree to some extent, with slack dough formulas.  Firmer dough doesn't respond as well in my experience, so I use different methods for different types of dough.


Anyone who hasn't tried the Bertinet process should give it a try.  It's a good way to work out frustration :D

coffeetester's picture
coffeetester

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/video/2010/jul/20/how-to-cook-bread


 


I went looking on the web for Bertinet methods. I found this video. Is there a reason why this wont work for sourdough. I want to go make a loaf right now and try this out because this is the exact problem I was having with overly sticky methods.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Short answer is  -  Yes, you can use the Bertinet method for sourdough.

Davo's picture
Davo

That french fold method works fine for sourdough.


It's what I use, as I find that traditional kneading doesn't work so well for me. I thought I would find it (traditional kneading) easy as I have a reasonable amount of experience wedging clay for pottery. But I don't find I get good results.


Anyway, here's what I do for kneading, making up about 3.7 kg of dough (4 loaves each a bit over 900 g).


Mix about 1 kg of levain with flour/water/salt to make up  3.7 kg of bread dough at something like 68% hydration. I do add a bit of water if it feels like it's coming together a bit dry, a baking instructor once told me to be not-too-stricy with water ass it varies with flour type/humidity etc as to what is "right".


I hand mix with a strong steel spoon in a BIG stainless bowl. Then I let it sit in a fiarly well mixed but slightly shaggy mess, fo rabout 15-20 minutes. Some will say it's not a true autolyse as this should have flour and water but no levain and certainly no slat in it. But I've tried that and didn't geet demonstrably different results.


ANyway, after that not-quite correct "autolyse" I don't do any proper kneading. I wet my right hand and take up a plastic bowl scraper and simply scrape down the side of the bowl and push the scraper right under the lump of dough, then I pull it up and fold over that bit of dough. This pulls up any slightly wet/dry bits and completes mixing a bit better, and starts "kneading" by stretching the dough a little. I rotate the bowl and do this for a minute ot two, probably going around the bowl say 3 times.


10 minute rest, then I wet both hands liberally and do the french folds. Even with nearly 4 kg of dough this works fine, although it's not as stretchy as the Beertinet dough. One thing though, if your dough is a tad dry, you will have trouble doing the french fold - it's got to be fairly soft or french fold won't work! This first french fold session I give it a good few folds - maybe 15 or so, but that takes literally about a minute. I pop it back int he bowl and rest 10 more mins.


Repeat the above twice more, but only give it about 6-8 folds each time (15-20 secs about). By this stage, the dough should be not sticking to your wetted hands(even with my mix using typically 10-15% rye). Now I put it in an oiled bowl, and rest (bulk ferment) for about 2 hrs, with a stretch and fold (but now on a lightly floured bench and with floured not wetted hands) every about 30 mins.


Bulk ferment is now over!


Scale, shape, then either prove and bake or retard in fridge and then warm-up and bake.


The key to this though is to have the dough soft enough. Too dry/stiff and it will bind up and want to tear... or simply won't allow itself to be folded over more than once or twice! If so, add more water next time.