The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Two Newbie Questions

wbateman's picture
wbateman

Two Newbie Questions

This is my first post here! I've got two simple questions that I can't seem to find unequivocal answers to.

  1. To know when you're done kneading, when you press the dough with thumb/knuckles, should it or should it not rise back at you? I've found sources claiming both. But either it's ready when it rises back at you or it's ready when it doesn't, and for the life of me I can't tell which!
  2. When recalculating the amount of yeast in a recipe, do you divide it the same way you do the other ingredients? Halve the flour, halve the water, halve everything for a half-batch, but do you halve the yeast, too?

That's it! Everyone here is so warm, and all of your breads look so delicious. :o I have baked two simple batches so far; one was this site's Italian bread, which came out lovely, and one was the white bread that Floydm posted on his blog not long ago. That one came out kind of cake-y. I think my A/P flour for that was old, freezer-burned, and lower-protein, though. Floyd's was much prettier and I'm sure it tasted better. :)

 Warmly,

Wendy
 

demegrad's picture
demegrad

Question #1. To answer your question directly, The dough will spring back at you once kneading is done. But then you allow it to rise, possilbly a few times, once the finsl proofing/rising is done the dough will not spring back at you. To answer the question which wasn't asked, the best way is to do what is called the window pane test. This is done by cutting off a small amount of dough, I usually round it on the work surface, then flattening out a bit. Then try to stretch it without pulling so fast as to just rip it in half. If you able to hold it to the light without it ripping you've got it. There are lots of pictures out there of what this looks like and I have to admit, this was difficult for me to understand / accomplish when I started baking but after watching this video (I hope the link works) I could do it:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=328838669220561285. If that link doesn't work try this one http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=328838669220561285&q=bread+making+pennsylvania

As for question #2. Yes half the yeast, many people use what is called baker's percentage which just bases the amount of all the ingredient off of the amount of flour used in a recipe, following this logic yes, a half recipe includes half the flour half the water etc.....

Hope this helps, and if this is unclear please let me know I'm glad to help however I can.

demegrad

http://www.demegrad.blogspot.com

wbateman's picture
wbateman

Demegrad,

 Thank you for your help! Your explanations were very clear and I understand what I ought to be doing now. :) Also, thank you for the info on both the 'windowpane test' and the baker's percentages - I never got those before! :)

That video looks great - I'll give it a watch tomorrow.

Again, thanks so much!

Warmly,

Wendy 

demegrad's picture
demegrad

I saw a typo in my earlier response that I feel I should try to fix.

Segment from earlier post:

Then try to stretch it with pulling so fast as to just rip it in half. If you able to hold it to the light without it ripping you've got it.

I meant to say "Then try to stretch it WITHOUT pulling so fast as to just rip it in half...."  The whole idea of kneading is the form layers of a gluten network.  But the gluten is only so strong, so pulling it quickly no matter how well kneaded it will still tear.  So so pull gently, if you can get to the point of holding it up to the light and you can see the light through the dough, it's good.  Think of it as stretching a small pizza dough.  I hope this fixes my earlier mistake/typo.

demegrad

http://www.demegrad.blogspot.com

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I edited your earlier post and fixed the typo.