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Autolyse - when is it done?

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ramat123's picture
ramat123

Autolyse - when is it done?

Hi There,


I've been baking for about a year and working with some recipes that include autolyse (mostly from Hamelman).


Now, Hamelman is saying use 20-60 minutes of autolyse. I choose to work with 30 minutes.


What's the indicaion of a successful autolyse? When do I know that the process is done?


Thanks,


David

BettyR's picture
BettyR

I don't think there is a set time or a specific "done" to it. I am fairly new to the process but I have found it very valuable when making whole wheat bread. White bread recipes I just leave them for about 30 minutes but whole wheat I leave to sit for one hour before I knead and one hour after I knead, before I shape and pan. My whole wheat sandwich bread has gone from a dry crumbly mess to a moist soft sandwich bread that I would be proud to serve to any of my foodie friends.

G-man's picture
G-man

Personally I autolyse for at LEAST 20 minutes if I wanted to hurry for whatever reason. I autolyse for up to an hour depending on the loaf. If I'm making a basic loaf of bread and I have plenty of time I'll let it sit for about 40-45 minutes. As for what a "successful" autolyse is...I've always taken it to be that the dough is fully cohesive and the kneading is significantly easier than if I had skipped the autolyse altogether. The flour is fully hydrated and the gluten is well on its way to forming up, now it's just a matter of getting it as tight as it needs to be.

scottsourdough's picture
scottsourdough

You can really autolyse for as long or as short as you want. Remember, autolysing is really just letting the flour knead itself. If you let it autolyse for only 5 minutes, there would still be that much less work you have to do.


That said, I usually autolyse around 20-30 minutes, fold in salt and levain, and do whatever extra folding the dough needs.


You can also autolyse for a lot longer, like in the Gosselin formula that uses an overnight autolyse in the refrigerator.

wally's picture
wally

David- The process of autolyse was introduced into French baking after World War II by Raymond Calvel, a baker and reknowned professor of baking.  His intent was to find a way to counter new mechanized mixing methods which overmixed doughs, resulting in inferior breads because of over-oxidation.  The intensive mix methods were popular with bakers because intensive mixing allowed for dramatically shortened fermentation periods before the dough was shaped and proofed.  Bottom line: more bread could be produced in fewer hours.


Autolyse was a way of allowing the flour and water to produce gluten with little mixing, and thus, after a period of time (could be 20 minutes to whatever), with a short second mix, a dough with sufficient gluten development would result without the impairments caused by overmixing.


So its original purpose was to persuade commercial bakers to abandon intensive mixing in favor of a method that also shortened the bulk fermentation period of dough.


Many home bakers use autolyse, however.  Not for cost savings, but more for convenience.  You can do a very short dough mix (without adding salt or levain) and then leave the mixture for 20 minutes to an hour or so, allowing you to attend to other chores.  During this time, the flour and water will on their own develop a gluten structure.  At the end of the autolyse, you can then add the salt and/or levain, and finish the mixing in a much shorter time than if the entire mix was done at one time.


You don't really need to worry about a 'successful' autolyse.  Any period of time when flour and water are barely mixed and then left to their devices will shorten the time when mechancial mixing is required to achieve good gluten development.


Even if you do all your mixing by hand, autolyse can abbreviate the time spent kneading or otherwise aiding gluten development.


Hope this helps.


Larry


 


 

jowilchek's picture
jowilchek

After reading the two descriptions of autolyse below, one from Wikipedia and one from TFL glossary I am totally confused!
If you use an autolyse do you still need to knead or stretch and fold?
Or does the autolyse just mean shorter kneading time or less stretch and folds?
None of the formulas I have say anything about autolyse is that something that bakers just decide to do or not to do? Or are there certaing formulas that call for autolyse? If you have a formula that doesn't call for autolyse how can you incorporate it in and still use the original formula?
Guess you can tell by these questions I am a baker in the making...not an experienced one although I have had a lot of success with some breads I want to learn and know as much as my brain can retain...
So thanks for all your patience and all your help, especially with us uneducated wanna be bakers!
Autolyse is an optional dough process, it refers to a particular period of rest after the initial mixing of flour and water, a rest period that occurs sequentially before the addition of yeast and other ingredients. This rest period allows for better absorption of water and helps the gluten and starches to align. Breads made with autolysed dough are easier to form into shapes and have more volume and improved structure.Wikipedia

Autolyse: a technique for improving gluten development without heavy kneading. Combine the flour and water from your recipe in a bowl and mix until the flour is fully hydrated. Cover the bowl and let the flour hydrate for 20 minutes, then mix in remaining ingredients. The result is development comparable to a dough that has been kneaded for 5 or 10 minutes with less oxydation (which leads to a yellow crumb).The Fresh Loaf Bakers Handbook

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If you use an autolyse do you still need to knead or stretch and fold?  Depends on the firmness of the dough and what kind of flour is used.  But you will find that the dough has become smoother while it was resting and very quickly you discover it requires little or no kneading.


Or does the autolyse just mean shorter kneading time or less stretch and folds?  Yes, kneading time is much shorter.  A wetter dough will still require stretches and folds.


The two descriptions of Autolyse from wiki and the site don't seem conflicting to me, they seem to work together.  So I'm wondering if the whole concept is just hard to grasp.  That would be: whether you choose to let the mixed up dough rest or not is up to you. It is rather a "new concept" and not written in typical homemaker recipes. 


Example:  If you took 2 bakers and the ingredients flour and water and both bakers mixed up the same dough, one kept kneading and the other threw a damp towel over the dough and walked away.  Twenty minutes later the one baker returned and for 20 seconds kneaded the coverd dough.   Both doughs would probably look the same.   (-except if they were rye)  So the point is...  why knead if you don't have to? 

jowilchek's picture
jowilchek

Mini Oven, thank you so much for your detailed explanations...today is bread making day and I plan to try at least one formula with an autolyse and the same formula the regular way. Since this is a formula I have used every week for over a year (go to bread) I should be able to tell if there is a difference.
On bread baking day I always make one loaf of my go to bread then experiment with a new formula. That way if the new formula does not turn out, we still have the fresh bread from the go to formula.
I have enjoyed being able to experiment without worry as to whether we will have an editable bread. Today's, well we will just have to wait and see.
Thank you again!
Jo

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When confronted with a recipe that doesn't ask for an autolyse or rest period between mixing and kneading:


Although the purest definition says no yeast or salt, I usually blend the sourdough and water together and add the flour mixing until all the flour is wet.  Then letting it sit there covered and come back to add the salt 30-60 minutes later.  I measure it out and have it sitting in a little dish on the covered bowl so I don't forget it.  (I still include the moment the flour gets wet as part of my bulk rise, don't know how many people do this... )


If I am using a yeast recipe where the dough is expected to have a short bulk rise (under 2 hours) 



  • I tend to use a different recipe   ha! Lol

  • Or I use less yeast so that the autolyse time does not interfere with the bulk rise

  • Or (and I've been doing this a lot) add the instant yeast later (but not at the same moment as the salt) after a very long, sometimes overnight counter-top autolyse.  Recipes are pretty flexible.  (Note: with whole flours, salt would be added before an extra-long-autolyse to reduce unwanted enzyme action.)

  • But if you're in a hurry and must deal with working it into a recipe, as soon as the bulk of the flour is wet evenly, stop and cover it and do something else for 10 - 20 minutes or so.  Set a timer.  That is enough to make a big difference.  Then come back and take up where you left off.


So I hope I helped and not made it more confusing. 

varda's picture
varda

I don't know if this helped the original poster, but it sure makes things clearer for me.   I had pretty much decided that Autolyse was a frill, when I encountered problems with my loaves exploding.   As I read through the very informative rossnroller post on more or less the same subject, I came upon one of your comments, in which you said, if you want faster fermentation, autolyse.   And I do want faster fermentatiotn so I'm back to autolysing.   But that still leaves the question of mechanics.   In Hamelman, he says autolyse for 20-60 minutes, and then bulk ferment, but that leaves the question of whether to include the time when the water and flour are mixed in the bulk fermentation time (yes, I know, times only matter if you are controlling for temperature.)    I had decided yes, but was uncertain about it, so I'm very interested in your remarks on this.   Also, in reading around, it seems there is some disagreement about whether to withhold the starter as well, for a sourdough loaf.   Hamelman says yes.   I've read several opinions saying no.   If autolyse is meant to give the flour time to absorb the water and that's inhibited by fermentation then holding back the starter makes sense, but I have read opinions that say that at least with a starter (not commercial yeast) it takes long enough for fermentation to get going, so no need to withhold starter.   Anyhow, so goes the transformation of baking into chemistry. 

varda's picture
varda

I don't know if this helped the original poster, but it sure makes things clearer for me.   I had pretty much decided that Autolyse was a frill, when I encountered problems with my loaves exploding.   As I read through the very informative rossnroller post on more or less the same subject, I came upon one of your comments, in which you said, if you want faster fermentation, autolyse.   And I do want faster fermentatiotn so I'm back to autolysing.   But that still leaves the question of mechanics.   In Hamelman, he says autolyse for 20-60 minutes, and then bulk ferment, but that leaves the question of whether to include the time when the water and flour are mixed in the bulk fermentation time (yes, I know, times only matter if you are controlling for temperature.)    I had decided yes, but was uncertain about it, so I'm very interested in your remarks on this.   Also, in reading around, it seems there is some disagreement about whether to withhold the starter as well, for a sourdough loaf.   Hamelman says yes.   I've read several opinions saying no.   If autolyse is meant to give the flour time to absorb the water and that's inhibited by fermentation then holding back the starter makes sense, but I have read opinions that say that at least with a starter (not commercial yeast) it takes long enough for fermentation to get going, so no need to withhold starter.   Anyhow, so goes the transformation of baking into chemistry. 

BettyR's picture
BettyR

I am just a home baker (of 40 years) and all I can offer is my personal experience.


First off all I have ever used is commercial yeast...I have tried it both ways. Not mixing the yeast in to start with and then mixing it in in the beginning. I couldn't tell that it made any difference at all in the way my loaves preformed or tasted. So now I just do it the lazy way and mix all my ingredients together....let it sit an hour....knead it....let it sit another hour....then shape, rise, and bake. I'm getting a constantly good loaf every time. This is the best whole wheat bread I have ever made...I just wish I had learned about autolysing 40 years ago.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Varda,


maybe I can clarify about autolyse impacting on fermentation time?


All references to autolyse which I am aware of do not include the addition of yeast at that stage.   So it follows that it cannot be part of the bulk fermentation time as there is no fermentation going on.


The only exceptions I have come across would be when using a liquid pre-ferment.   This may be a "poolish", or a liquid levain.   Any time, in fact when the hydration of the starter is greater than that in the overall hydration of the final dough; ie total liquid in the formula.   Then, I agree very much with Jeffrey Hamelman, that the liquid starter would be added into the autolyse stage.   Otherwise, there is little point carrying out the autolyse, as the resulting mixture is deficient in liquid.


The strength of the wikipedia definition [brought into the discussion by Jo, above, and Mini's excellent detailed addition] is to make reference to increased hydration potential when using autolyse.   This is my main reason for using autolyse, especially with a 100% wholemeal dough, where the bran takes ages to suck up water, but will take up a lot of extra moisture long term.   Obviously much of this is due to the enzymatic reactions which Calvel was using to reduce the apparent need for intensive mixing.


So, ultimately, I agree with Mini that the TFL and wikipedia definitions don't contradict each other.   I do suggest, however, that the TFL definition does not make explicit something which is actually a more valuable tool to the home baker in the first place.   Very few homebakers are interested in intensive mixing, but a lot I can think of do look for ways to achieve optimum hydration in the dough.


Best wishes


Andy 

varda's picture
varda

Andy, Somehow it sounds so obvious when you say it.   So in short, withhold yeast and starter which is as dry or drier than the target hydration of the dough.   So that you give the flour time to hydrate, which I assume helps with proper development of the gluten structure (the skin of the balloon so to speak.)   And withhold salt which impedes fermentation.   Which is why withholding salt should speed up the fermentation process relatively speaking.  When marking time for fermentation count from the point where yeast/starter is added.   Hope I got that right.   Thank you.   -Varda

ananda's picture
ananda

Likes water...A LOT!   So, let the flour get what it wants first, before adding the salt.


Although much is to do with enzymatic reactions.   Also, there is the concept of "delayed-salt mixing" which you may be interesting in looking into!?


BW


Andy

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Varda


With basic agreement that bulk fermentation begining with the addition of the fermenting  agents the time it takes to reach maturity is the time that it takes. It is probably more important to know when the dough has reached full maturity. This fairly easy if the dough is allowed to bulk ferment with out disturbance, and always worth while writing down and noting for future bakes.


A small problem can occur when the dough is disturbed with several stretch and folds, i have in the past taken a small piece of dough and kept it aside as an indicator of the stage that it would be at if not disturbed with stretch and fold techniques and used this as a guide to maturity. The dough piece can always be used as an old dough addition to a future bake so it is not wasted if wraped and refrigerated.


Regards Yozza  

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Andy.


Not to disagree, but to add other perspectives that might be of interest:



All references to autolyse which I am aware of do not include the addition of yeast at that stage.   So it follows that it cannot be part of the bulk fermentation time as there is no fermentation going on.



Here's an exception that should be of interest: I was recently re-viewing the videos Prof. Calvel made at the CIA. In the video on baguettes with pâte fermentée, Calvel used fresh yeast which was added along with the salt, ascorbic acid and pâte fermentée after a 20 minute autolyse. However, in an aside, he said that, if dry instant yeast is used, it can be added to the flour and water (and malt) in the autolyse. The reason given was that dry yeast takes longer to activate than fresh. Now, if a longer autolyse is planned, the recommendation might be different, I suppose.


Regarding addition of liquid starter to the autolyse: I rather like your criterion, i.e., add levain to the autolyse whenever its hydration is greater than that of the total dough hydration. I asked my instructor at the SFBI Artisan II workshop about this. Frank's criterion for adding liquid levain (or poolish) to the autolyse was the hydration of the Final Dough. He would add the pre-ferment to the autolyse if the Final Dough hydration were less than 60%. 


I think the concept behind the two criteria is fundamentally the same, but I thought Frank's input might be of interest. It would lead to a different autolyse procedure for some formulas, for example, breads made with poolish and total hydration on the high side.


David

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi David,


Thanks for posting your interesting observations, and I apologise for delay in getting back to you; time pressures this end!


Anyway, yes, I can see why dry yeast would be added; you may wish to reflect on why bread machine recipes always call for dried yeast?   The reason is similar.   You are, however, probably familiar enough with my recipes to note that I really don't use dried yeast in any form.   At home, it's all sourdough and at work we always use fresh yeast.   This is simply because it is the established culture [excuse the pun!] in professional baking circles in the UK.   Dried yeast has never become popular over here, like it is in US and Australia, I believe.


I do believe Frank's point illustrates something that came up in Varda's recent post about loaves "bursting" out, here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21418/need-help-controlling-ovenspring#comment-150474    It's an interesting discussion concerning formula construction, especially in relation to how the levain is incorporated in the formula.   As you are probably aware, I always list the flour content of the levain portion as a %, which, when added to the flour in the final dough gives a total of 100%.   The levain proportion also shows the water in the levain, and the final dough lists the second addition of water.   So all you have to do is add to the 2 water amounts together to get the overall hydration proportion.   I know it's not quite the convention, but it makes immediate sense to me, more than any other attempts at Bakers % than I have seen.   So it is easy to spot whether the levain part has an excess of water on final hydration.   Recipes which just show the levain without making explicit how much of this flour and how much is water tend to cloud the clarity of the formula.   I want 2 immediate pieces of info: overall dough hydration and proportion of pre-fermented flour.   After I have these, then I'll start to look deeper at a formula.


I do think you are right that, fundamentally, the 2 criteria are the same.   This is just to explain the logic I attach to my method.   I'm pretty sure Hamelman adopts this basis, although I also note he does not write his formulas out in quite the same way that I do.


All good wishes


Andy 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Thanks for your reply. I find this very interesting.


My thoughts are that how you work the numbers should serve two purposes: 1) Ease of scaling, once you have the formula, and 2) Communication of dough/bread characteristics by the formula (or, in reverse, being able to use modification of baker's percentages to tweak a bread's characteristics).


To just mechanically produce bread, it seems that all you need to know is the percentages for any levain or other pre-ferments, soakers, etc. and the percentages for the final dough. However, without doing more math, these do not tell you everything important about the total dough characteristics. For that, it helps to have the percentages for the Total, especially hydration but also enrichments, etc.


 I asked Frank Sally at SFBI about how they thought about levain as a distinct and unitary final dough ingredient, while, with yeasted pre-ferments,  it was the percentage of pre-fermented flour that was important to them. I sort of understood his explanation at the time, but I obviously didn't grasp it firmly enough to pass it on. I'm not even sure my notes go into enough detail.


My impression is that how a baker chooses to keep formulas depends on how they use them, to some extent. Whew! This calls for more contemplation.


David

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi David,


I definitely agree with you about point 1] ease of scaling up.   For this all I do is find the multiplier which takes me from the % total in the formula to the amount of dough required.   then I apply that multiplier to all the rest of the materials as listed in the formula.   I think your second point equates with what my baking mentor always used to teach; that is that the Bakers' % teaches us "progression", as it shows the levels of key ingredients, such as salt and yeast, along withenriching ingredients such as sugars and fats and egg.   The proportions of these materials relative to the flour are instructive in our assessment of dough characteristics and performance.   Of course, they also help us to make the judgement as to whether the recipe is balanced or not; ie. will it work???


Regarding pre-ferments, it remains the primary factor to me, natural leaven or yeasted pre-ferment, what is the proportion of pre-fermented flour in the formula.   Then, I want to look at exactly how the leaven is prepared, or "elaborated" in the first place.


I also agree, that the formula produced is there to make best sense for the baker using it.   Hopefully, that means I produce formulae which are clear to me, but also, my students, and those reading posts here on TFL.


Whew, indeed!


All good wishes


Andy


ps. would be interesting to read Frank Sally's further comments concerning leaven representation in the formula, if you can remember them anytime.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Andy.


Having reviewed my notes, I now understand why I couldn't recall Frank's explanation. He said it's just a convention. Using either method for either type of pre-ferment is fine.


He didn't elaborate on how the SFBI convention evolved. I suspect this would be more of historical significance than of technical interest. It's even more of a mystery in that they generally seem to prefer liquid levain at 100% hydration, which is like a poolish, and they make a lot of breads with what they just call "pre-fermented dough" which is like a biga, except they routinely retard it overnight.


I had the impression that, while the faculty at SFBI has a very extensive and solid understanding of the science of baking, their final choices are made based on their judgement of product qualities that please them, especially flavor. I can't fault that approach.


David

ananda's picture
ananda

I can't fault that approach, either, David.   It tends to be the basis of what I make, and encourage my students to ake as well.   Admirable, and, common sense isn't it?


BW


Andy

wally's picture
wally

Just a thought - and question.  Levains may be used primarily for flavor purposes, or, as we more commonly associate them, as the primary leavening agents.  Preferments, on the other hand, are really used for the flavor they add, not as leaveners.


I wonder if this distinction might explain the difference in how they are counted?


Larry

ananda's picture
ananda

Larry, I don't think I agree with what you say about pre-ferments not being used as leaveners.


As far as I'm concerned a pre-ferment such as biga or poolish is used for the same purpose as a natural leaven.   It's just that the reactions taking place in the natural leaven are more complex, on account of working with several strains of wild yeast which work symbiotically with lactic and acetic bacteria.   Surely the whole purpose of the biga/poolish system is to start with a small amount of yeast and ferment for a prolonged period of time in order to build up a highly active and prolific number of yeast cells?


The only reason I tend to add yeast to final doughs utilising yeasted pre-ferments is to speed up the process.   But it is scarcely a necessary step.   Pre-ferments can be even more effective as a sole leavener than sourdoughs, in truth.


This doesn't even begin to address the key functions of ripening and maturing dough and engendering all the essential rheological changes needed in dough in addition to gas creation.


All good wishes


Andy 

wally's picture
wally

You've got a lot more knowledge and experience in this area than I do, Andy.  However, most formulas I'm familiar with, including Hamelman's, barely distinguish the amount of yeast used in straights doughs versus prefermented doughs (not meaning levains).  And I've seen (and used) levains in straight doughs to add flavor (just as a preferment might be) where the amount of yeast is what you would expect in a straight dough without the preferment.


So I guess my question is this: is the purpose of a preferment primarily to add flavor to an othewise straight dough, or, is it to substitute the use of yeast?


Over to you,


Larry

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Larry,


Maybe it might be of most use to establish the traditions of these breadmaking methods.


Using natural leavens is the oldest of the methods, as I think we all know.   But the use of a sponge in English baking has long roots now.   It began with the ale barms, so probably back to 16th and 17th Centuries, maybe earlier.   This eventually led to the development of the use of single strain Saccharomyces cerevisia as a sole leavening yeast specially developed and prepared for bakers.


However, it was not common for many years, and bakers had to be very canny in using the yeast.   The use of quarter and half sponges in English baking was one such means to make the yeast go a lot further.    Additionally, at this time, the yeast would not be produced biologically in huge amounts in a factory, so it would not be as powerful as what we have available to us from Lesaffre, BFP etc etc.   An English sponge would usually have equated well with the stiff Italian Biga, fermented over 12-16 hours.   Yeast levels used today would be about 0.2-0.4% on total flour.   There would have been no more fresh yeast added to the final dough, because the baker wouldn't have had any.   However, yeast activity would still be considerable as the massive build up of yeast cells in the sponge would kickstart the fermentation in the final dough.   Additionally, there were no improvers available either.   The pre-ferment is the improver.   To me this is just as important a part of the breadmaking process as the yeast activity.   If all the enzymatic reactions haven't taken place then the dough remains unchanged, and the end result will be failure.   To me, flavour is just one of the elements in the mix, and it is achieved through correct understanding and manipulation of both fermentation and rheology.   The pre-ferment is fundamental to both these aspects.   I do, however seek superior flavours as the end result in breads made with true command over complex processes.


Modern day practice may well be to use not dissimilar amounts of yeast in the different methods, but I don't think that is necessarily the case.   Where it is, the formula tends to call for very long periods of bulk fermentation.   This is another reason why sponge and dough was so popular.   The pre-ferment does the work whilst the baker gets some rest.   Then the process is speeded up exponentially when the baker is at work.   Reduction in floor time has all sorts of advantages, usually logistical and from a food safety point of view, but also in relation to the "time is money" adage too.


Given I use fresh yeast this may exagerate the difference in yeast amounts used, but here is an illustration.   For overnight sponge, I might use yeast between 0.2 and 0.4% on flour.   For a 2 hour bulk I would use up to 10 times that amount.   You don't even want to know how much yeast the industrial baker would use to make a "no-time" dough!!   Even in a 4 hour student practical class, the yeast levels [total] in doughs made with pre-ferments would be less than half those made with BFP.


The essence of your points takes me straight to the correlation between yeast quantities and the resulting time the dough takes to ferment.   Yeast at low levels in BFP requires very long periods of fermentation.   Calvel really liked bread made this way.   Commercially, the sponge was popular, traditionally, because it speeded up the processes in the final dough...at a time when the addition of further yeast at this stage was an unlikely luxury, not available to the baker.


Technically, you cannot add levain to a "straight dough".   Ok, so there may well be sufficient bakers' yeast added to the dough concerned to render the leavening effects of the levain redundant.   However, there are all sorts of acids, enzymes etc, in the leaven which will greatly impact on the dough rheology.   That being the case, the leaven has many functions, even in the situation you describe.   Flavour, to me, is merely a by-product of these functions.   But for a formula to work, we have to be appreciative of the way the pre-ferment [of any type and condition] will impact on dough performance, with yeast fermentation just being one of these numerous and complex aspects.


To summarise an answer to your last question.   Originally, a pre-ferment was used for a baker to make the supply of yeast go further.   But, by creating a pre-ferment, there is understanding that this will impact when added to the final dough in numerous complex ways.   This will have a positive impact on the final breads, so long as the baker controls the process in the correct way.   Flavour is one of these aspects.


Best wishes


Andy

wally's picture
wally

Andy, thanks for the detailed explanation and interersting walk through the history of English sponges.  I think in trying to distinguish preferments from levains as a way of suggesting/wondering if this is why SFBI treats them differently in formulas, I mistakenly created an either/or distinction where it's obviously not the case: clearly (and historically) preferments are leaveners, just as levains certainly enhance flavor in addition to leavening dough.


I still wonder about the reason SFBI treats them differently; perhaps at some point David will return for another class(!) and solve the mystery.


Cheers-


Larry


 

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

I find, after years of experimenting due to lack of a good teacher like TFL, that when in doubt try it out.  I suggest making loaves of bread with several different methods taking lots of notes.  Make sure you note the house temp as well, or temp of the area you rise the dough in. 


The more I read, the more I question, and the more I experiment the better my bread gets.  For Christmas I got Bread Bakers Apprentice, and I am just soaking up all the information in it, the science behind all my experiments.  I also searched the internet for all the videos on bread making, to see how others do it, although you have to be careful to make sure they really know what they are doing.  There is so much information now, that is easily available for us all....  I love science!

ramat123's picture
ramat123

For so much information to use in my coming bakings.


It looks like a summery of the discussion would be:


1. Autolyse for about 30 minutes. It doesn't really matter as long as it is more than 20. You can use 60 if you need time to do anything else nut 30 is sufficient for the flour to absorb the water.


2. Autolyse without salt and levain.


3. Do not count the autolyse time with the bulk fermentaion one (no levain - no fermentation).


Thanks a lot,


David

K.C.'s picture
K.C.

I'd say you have it David.


With all due respect to the many knowledgeable posters here, autolyse is merely letting the flour absorb the water. The results of autolyse are really a separate discussion as it varies with the grain used, temp and time.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The flour absorbing the water is not the purpose of autolyse, although that is the means to the end.
The primary purpose of autolyse is to start gluten developing, which just requires the presence of water. The purpose of giving gluten development a head start is ultimately to decrease the need for prolonged mixing. Shorter and more gentle mixing is desirable to decrease oxidation of carotenoid pigments which are important for flavor and to avoid excessive gluten organization which leads to a more compact, uniform crumb.
Professor Calvel invented and promoted autolyse in reaction to the dense, tasteless baguettes that became common after WW II because of the ubiquitous use of mechanical mixers run at high speeds for a long time. This was attractive to bakers because mechanical development of gluten took less time than relying on a long fermentation. Calvel demonstrated that you could find a happy middle ground by autolysing. Fermentation time would be longer than with the intensive mix, certainly, but not as long as without autolyse, and the bread was very much better in flavor and crumb structure.
Anyway, that's my understanding.
David

K.C.'s picture
K.C.

Where in my post does it say purpose ?


You demonstrate exactly what I was saying. The process is one thing. The byproduct(s) of it are a separate discussion.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Please excuse my excursion into "a separate discussion."


David

Davo's picture
Davo

I have tried the autolyse step without levain and salt, and with it. Frankly I don;t find much difference. So I just mix my water into the levain until it's fairly well combined, then add all the flour/salt to make my final bread dough. Obviously this is fermenting, so the autolyse time is part of  my bulk fermentation. Try it - if you do, I doubt you'll bother making levain/salt addition a separate step any more.