The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recipe Questions: Why do you do these things?

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Recipe Questions: Why do you do these things?

These questions have probably been answered various times and in various places so, if you wouldn't mind, some great links would be helpful if don't feel like explaining it all.


I am a beginning baker. I bake a ton and have been for years but I almost always follow a recipe exactly (unlike cooking where I make everything up). Now that I am learning more about different types of bread and baker's percentages, I've been experimenting with making my own recipes. So, I was wondering what effect (on taste, texture, crust, ect) these things have on bread. I've seen them all in different recipes, now I'm trying to figure which are right for my own recipes.


Thanks so much!


1. Why do you let dough rest for a bit before kneeing?


2. Why do you do multiple rises vs one rise? 


3. What difference does a slow rise (in the fridge) vs normal rise (on the counter) vs quick rise (in a warm oven) make? 


4. Does the order you build a dough make a difference (mix flour into liquid a little at a time, mix flour into liquid all at once, mix liquid into flour, mix everything all together, ect)?


 


I'm sure I have more questions but those are it for now. Thank you again. I know explaining some of the more basic points can get tedious. 

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

On the home page of this site, on the right towards the bottom is a section called Lessons. Lesson 1 answers some of your questions, and subsequent lessons will help you to grow as a baker.


At the top of the page is a topic for book reviews. The first review says... If you are looking to buy your first artisan baking book, Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice is it.


It is fine to ask questions and people on the forum are glad to help, but you will probably learn faster and have more fun with some basic research.


Good Luck.


Michael

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Thanks so much. I am slowly making it through the lessons area of the site but there is so much information - some that I already know and lots that I don't so it's just a little overwhelming. 


I went out and bought The Bread Baker's Apprentice today as well. It's had to know what bread books are just recipes and which are teaching without suggestions. 


Thanks!

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

BBA is as good a book for novice bakers as you will find. You will revisit it often even after you become an accomplished baker. Bread by Jeffrey Hammelman is the standard reference book for many of the better bakers on this forum.


The Book Reviews on this site were all ( or mostly all) written by Floyd, the forum moderator, and can be relied upon for whatever purpose you are looking for in a bread book.


Michael

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== At the top of the page is a topic for book reviews. The first review says... If you are looking to buy your first artisan baking book, Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice is it. ===


Personally I would suggest searching for and reading through several of the extensive book review threads that exist here on TFL.  Again speaking personally, I enjoy Reinhart and TBBA but I would not recommend it as a first book (except perhaps for inspiration).


sPh

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Well, it wouldn't be my first bread book - it was just one I didn't have. :)

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Since you took the time to ask questions.. and I suspect you already know about the lessons - the least we can do is help to answer a few.  I've read over the lessons section.. it always left me with just more questions! Besides, it makes for good conversations, if nothing else.


Multiple rises...


For me, it depends on what type of bread I'm baking.. multiple rises enhance flavor and texture, but if the bread I'm baking doesn't require that, then it's just not needed. For example, a dinner roll or sandwich bread.. I'm not sure why you'd need multiple rises.  For a Baguette, where you want the texture, holes, and crispy crust.. then yes, an aging process via multi rises is called for. 


Resting before kneading.  I do this only when the recipe calls for it.  I suppose it helps fully hydrate the dough and lets it begin to form gluten.  Good question though!  Some people wait to add salt to this stage.  I have never found that necessary, but some swear by it.


The rise... keep in mind that generally, the slower the riser the better the flavor.  Some fast rise recipes - you can really have a strong yeasty flavor.  I like a dough that ferments overnight usually.  I do this with almost everything I bake these days, but sometimes we simply don't plan that far ahead! 


The order at which you add things - I think that depends once again on what you're making.  A Brioche dough calls for kneading in of butter, a little at a time.  You wouldn't get the same result if you added it at the beginning of a mix.  Some, like Jason's Ciabatta bread here on this site.. just toss everything together and let it go to mix.. perfectly fine.  There are some doughs that were designed specifically for certain ingredients to be added in a special order, but for the most part (especially if using instant yeast), it generally doesnt make too much of a different.


I would most always follow a recipe specifically especially when baking.  Baking is as much of a science as it is an art form or a culinary passion.  So, if your salt kills your yeast or you have lumpy dough.. it could be that you didn't follow the directions.


There is also a great search function here.. you can usually find whatever you're looking for if you have future questions.  There are hundreds of blogs and discussions here from A-Z.


Good luck and enjoy your baking.  This is an exciting time!


 

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Yeah, the lessons section definitely has a ton of information. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my post. 


I like to let dough rise overnight in the fridge as well - good to know that it can enhance the flavor. 


I do follow directions, but I love to create as well. I could do recipe after recipe and still not find exactly what I'm looking for (or my husband or my kids, ect) so knowing the science behind it all allows me to start branching out and experimenting. And you never know - my next experiment could be amazing and I'd share it with all of you! ;)

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Liz,


Welcome to TFL!


You have asked a lot of interesting questions there. A lot of these issues are the subject of debate and you will find some very interesting threads on them. 


I'm only a relatively novice baker but I will venture one or two answers based on what I have grasped so far and on the understanding that all this is still open to debate!


1 I've come to think of working the dough to be a bit like working out the muscles in the body.


Gluten and gliadin need to develop to give a good dough both elasticity and extensibility (that is it can be stretched out somewhat but still retains strength and will regain its shape afterwards).


This is the same as a well-developed muscle, which will be both strong and flexible. When working out we work the muscles almost to tearing point. They respond by becoming stronger. In a balanced programme we will also stretch them, to keep them flexible.


However to get maximum benefit you need to rest the body between workouts. Same with dough! If you keep on working it when in is very elastic and pinging back on itself it will simply tear. If you leave it to recover for 10 minutes or so, it will become much more extensible again. In fact you can see the dough 'muscles' develop from one stage to another!


This is why you may need to rest dough in general. If, however, you are asking about why the flour and water or sometimes flour, water and leaven is left to stand for 30 minutes or so after mixing, this is also linked to gluten development. 


This stage is called 'autolyse' or 'autolysis'. This process was discovered or recovered by Professor Raymond Calvel to help French commercial bread baking after World War 11. He found that some gluten began to form from the moment the flour and water were mixed.


Doing an autolyse takes out the need for intensive mixing, which can lead to the over-mixing of commercial doughs. Artisan bakers tend to use the autolyse to support the longer, gentler fermentation and mixing of hearth breads. A traditional Calvel autolyse only contains water and flour, although some contemporary bread formula may contain leaven also. Salt is usually added at the end of the autolyse because although it allows flour to take up water, it can also inhibit the yeast. There is more on this on several threads, accessible via the search box.


2 Why multiple rises versus one rise?  References to 'bulk fermentation' used to really confuse me as a new baker, because I never did anything in bulk at the start. I just coddled my one loaf through its various stages!


This term comes in part from industrial and artisan baking in bulk, where the dough is mixed and undergoes its first rise as a whole mass, before being portioned out to rise again before baking. 


Some commercial bakers and bakery schools claim advantages to the bulk rise, including the ability to keep the dough temperature more stable when in bulk, and better flavour development. Traditionally large quantities of bread dough would have risen in bulk in dough troughs so this is not just an industrial practice.


However not all national bread making traditions and not all bread methods fit this model, obviously. Other bakers have suggested that long fermentation sourdough breads can also be thought of a having a single long proof, with gentle interventions, such as stretch and fold to build up structure throughout the process.


Some doughs have very minimal intervention and not just the newly popular 'no knead' breads. One of the best breads I made was a focaccia where I mixed all the ingredients at once and then fermented it for 24 hours. I thought I had cheekily missed out a few steps, until I found out that some pizza doughs can traditionally be made this way!


I would say as a general rule be guided by the particular recipe or tradition you are following for each loaf and happy baking!


Best wishes, Daisy_A


 


 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Love the "muscle" analogy.  Resting the dough is often overlooked (e.g. pizza) and/or misunderstood and I think you did a nice job of explaining that part of bread making.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Thanks flournwater :-)


Best wishes, Daisy_A

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Wow, so much great information. Thank you for taking the time to type this all. 


I've never even heard of an autolysis - if leavening is added to an autolysis, how then does it differ from a preferment?


The industrially driven reason for a second rise makes complete sense however, there has to be a reason we do this in the home as well - not just because the bulk bread makers do. Further, I would assume that the basic bread recipes have all been developed in a home setting and not in bulk. 


Thanks again for all your info!

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi liz,


Thanks for your message.


How does autolysis differ from a preferment? Now that is one for the experts! The major differences I see in practice are that a preferment more normally contains less than 100% of the flour and that it is often longer than the autolysis, which takes between 20 and 60 minutes on average. I often preferment for 12 hours or more. 


If you haven't tried autolysis do try it. I can't imagine making a hearth bread without it now. You can see the dough strengthen before your very eyes!


I know what you mean about basic recipes. However, I think it's hard to pick apart the origins of bulk and non-bulk recipes as when housewives were baking for bigger households and also hired workers, they often prepared bread in bulk as well, using dough troughs, bowls and the kitchen table! Still do in some countries, particularly at festival time.


However, like I say it also depends on tradition as some traditional home baked breads do not have two rises. 


As for what bulk fermentation might mean for home bakers now, I found David Snyder (dmsnyder's) posts on his part 11 course at the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI) and blog comments really interesting. Don't think I understand it all yet but lots of food for thought. 


First one is on this link and other follow:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21093/sfbi-artisan-ii-workshop-day-1


Best wishes, Daisy_A


 

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Thank you, thank you. Now to find a recipe using autolysis - might you have one to suggest?


After I posted, I started thinking about home bakers as well and you are right. Another thing is "way back when" I'm sure baking was done in batches once a week or so. It might be an interesting experiment to take a basic bread recipe and have it rise one, two, even three times and note if it might have any taste/texture difference. 


Thank you for the link - just another window open waiting to be read. I'd love to take a course on baking - just for the heck of it! 

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Liz,


Yes it's fun isn't it, the new information and challenges that baking throws up?!


The classic Tartine formula might be an interesting one to explore. It can be made straight or retarded and it contains an initial autolysis. A lot of TFL bakers have posted on this recently. 


txfarmer's post below has very good notes and links to the formula and more information in BerniePiel's post. Many others have posted on this as well.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19836/tartine-bread-my-first-quotbasic-country-breadquot


I've made this a few times and really enjoyed it. Hope this is of interest. 


I have some bread books but find I'm tending to make more and more breads from posts on TFL. So, if Tartine doesn't appeal I hope there is something else on here with autolysis that you might bake.


Wishing you happy baking! Daisy_A 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Don't overlook the suggestion from MichaelH for adding BBA (http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Bakers-Apprentice-Mastering-Extraordinary/dp/1580082688/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292728500&sr=8-1) to your library.  It is, IMO, a "must have", especially for the new baker.

lizallen's picture
lizallen

I picked it up today! It's hard to tell which books are going to be all about the recipes or all about the learning so thanks for the suggestion!

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi,


When I started making my melon pan - essentially a brioche covered in pastry dough - I looked a bit into this. I got most of my ideas out of Bertinet's books Dough and Crust, and Peter Reinhardt's Bread Baker's Apprentice.


My findings:


Salt: attracts water and dreaws it away from gluten formation and hydration of yeast and flour. If you need a good gluten development, add salt halfway through kneading. (Bertinet recomments this for sourdoughs)


Sugar (for sweet doughs): Draws a way a lot of water. Again, if you want good gluten development, add sugar later. (The dough gets really messy at this stage but comes together quickly...)


Fat: This is an interesting one. Fat encapsulates the proteins. Added early it somewhat inhibits gluten formation and you get a more even, cake-like texture. Added late it encapsulates the gluten sheets, and you get that flakey texture, like in brioche.


Best Wishes,


Juergen

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Bertinet's books are on my wishlist, as was Reinhardt's. But, after several recommendations here, I picked up the later today. 


Great findings. One of the staple breads in our house are my biscuits. My husband must have sat through dozens and dozens of biscuits while I was developing my recipe (perhaps this is why he is now on a diet). So I find it interesting that the flakey texture is accomplished by adding fats late in the mixing as i cut my butter into the flour and then add liquids... now that I think about it though, croissants add butter last and biscuits are definitely more on the cake side of things than flakey like croissants are...


More to consider! But thank you. I love learning new things which enable me to further my baking/cooking. 

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Bertinet uses an advanced technique - slap and fold.  Definitely can be intimidating unless you're used to kneading, but his brioche dough for cinnamon rolls is well worth all the work.  I would recommend not only Reinhardt's BBA book, but also Bread: A Bakers Book of Techniques and recipes.


Above all, don't get too caught up in all this technique and science.  You really can just relax and enjoy the process.. it really doesn't have to be rocket science.  Most of all, if you too caught up in it, you can lose confidence when some things don't turn out just perfectly.


I've seen lots of users here come and go and I wonder if they just took on too much.. too fast.  I've been baking for as long as I can remember.. sometimes simpler is just better.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi,


I am fairly new to this site and not quite sure what techniques are "advanced" or "difficult", I am learning with every loaf I bake.


After I got Bertinet's Dough I watched his movie on my commute from Brighton to London and back - about 10 times.


This was enough for me to get the hang of his folding technique and boost my production and waistline ;-)


Just to mention - the movie shows him making Baguettes from start to finish, the "working the dough" stage is not cut short!


 

lizallen's picture
lizallen

I hear you. Sometimes it's nice to just follow a good simple recipe - that's how I feel about those no-knead artisan breads or quick breads - heck, even a good pancake! But, trying to create my own recipes means I really need to understand why certain things are added or done. Plus, I am one of those people who really enjoys knowing the history/origin of anything I am involved in.


It's funny because I was raised by a chef and a scientist, an interesting combo but, when it came to baking, it created a lot of discussion. Looking back, baking was very limited in our home, I imagine because there was little agreement.

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

Just going to add my endorsement for Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Bakers Apprentice.  There is a reason why they recommend it as your first.  It's not just recipes, it explains why things work and how they work.  Great book, and with TFL to help with great answers like you get above, you are well on your way to understanding!


Joanne

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Thank you! I ran out and bought the book today after all these glowing recommendations. I had it on my wishlist but decided it just couldn't wait!

FotoCEO's picture
FotoCEO

Resting the dough - I've learned that, especially with pizza dough, I will get VERY frustrated if I don't rest the dough - it puts up too much of a fight if it hasn't rested.


 


Multiple rises - I read (somewhere) that multiple rises makes the bread more digestible and bioavailable.  So I do three rises when making bread or rolls.  I do grind my own flour, so that might have something to do with that recommendation.


 


Slow rise - as others have said, slow rise allows better flavor development.  I believe it also helps bread have a longer shelf-life (counter-life?).


 


Order of ingredients - this can also depend on what you are using to mix your dough.  I use an Electrolux mixer and have to add the dry to the wet, never the other way around.  And I have to add ALL the wet at the beginning, if I try to add liquid to a dough in the mixer it just gets slippery and doesn't mix.

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Is it that pizza dough springs back too much if it hasn't rested properly? I don't think I've made pizza dough before but I do have this issue with pretzel dough occasionally and definitely with tortillas. 


Now that you mention it... I think I also heard, once upon a time, that multiple rises make bread easier to digest... where have I heard that before? Something to do with the breaking down of certain properties... hmmm, more research is needed on this topic. Thank you for getting my wheels turning. 


I've never heard that a slow rise might offer better preservation. Perhaps the things that go bad in bread would go bad slower after a slow rise?


Thank you for your feedback!

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Not just pizza dough, Liz.  Most dough formulas will tend to be stubborn, wanting to retract when stretched, unless it's given time to rest between shaping stages.  It's more apparent with pizza dough because you're trying to stretch it into a flat disc.  Next time you roll out your pie dough or biscuit dough watch the edges of your rolled out sheet retract when you lift the rolling in.  It's less noticable after the dough has rested in the fridge (as pie dough usually does) but you'll see some evidence of it nonetheless. 

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Thanks, got it. I guess I just never thought about it. When I make tortillas there are definitely days I have to take a step back - I always consider it my rest though!

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

An autolyse is simply time for the water to be absorbed into the flour, it helps when it comes time to knead the dough.  It can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, and there is much speculation as to whether to add the yeast or not.  I add it, but only wait 30 minutes before starting my kneading.


The dough needs to rest at different stages to prevent damage to the gluten that you have taken so much time to develop.  During shaping is the most common time to allow rests for this purpose.  When your dough feels like it is fighting the shaping you are doing, try letting it rest for ten minutes covered and then try again.  It can make a big difference.


As for more than one rise, someone said it perfectly the other day, most enriched doughs really don't need a lot of extra rises to pull the flavor out of the wheat.  Like dinner rolls that are made with white flour, butter, eggs, milk etc, they get more of their flavor from the things that are added.  It's the lean doughs that require long fermentation, to draw the good flavors from them.  They rely on the wheat for their flavor, and in the case of sourdough the bacteria that cause it to be sour.


Joanne

lizallen's picture
lizallen

I'll have to do more reading about autolyse. It's a new concept for me. 


I think I'm understanding resting time now. I really liked the muscle/human body analogy above. Does resting time have anything to do with dough temperature though? 


Good rule of thumb for rises as well: lean breads need extra rise time. I'll put that in my notebook. 


Thanks so much!

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

It's an exciting time, but it can also be frustrating.. so take your time.  Start with EASY recipes and techniques.  Buy a scale!  I can't count how many new bakers started out with all their book reading, only to take on the baguette as their first loaf - then quit in frustration! 


Baking isn't really rocket science, although many might argue that.  To me, if you don't have passion for it and a wee bit of natural ability, no amount of book reading will get you the "perfect loaf".  It is your passion that will drive you, your expertise comes from experience.  I teach alot of new bakers how to get started and the one thing I tell them is to RELAX and HAVE FUN.. above all, don't make this more difficult than it is.  As much as I enjoy this site, TFL is not a site I recommend to brand new bakers because it is easily intimidating.  The good thing is there are alot of friendly, helpful people to ask.


And even after all my years of baking, I'm reminded all the time that there is more to learn.. that's half the fun.  I am still waiting for that perfect loaf! :)


There are some awesome baking blogs too.. one of my favs is A Year In Bread  www.ayearinbread.com  They haven't been active since summer, but there are tons of great recipes and ideas there.. and they have great photos and easy to understand instructions. 

lizallen's picture
lizallen

Thanks. I know my questions might seem beginner-ish, or maybe it's because I didn't own Reinhart's book but I've actually been baking for a long time. :) It's just that now I am experimenting more than I used to. The science of baking is what excites me. I love learning more and trying new techniques. Sure, I might have a few doorstops that come from the oven but every time I bake I get one step closer to that perfect loaf (actually, for my family currently I am in search of the perfect pretzel). Thanks so much for your input. 

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

What would you recommend?  I am going through the BBA right now, and I find it awesome, but I am always looking for my next good book.  Would love to hear what you think are the top books....  sigh, just what I need are more books for my over crowded bookcases!  :)


Joanne

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

I would recommend...


that you start baking!  BBA has some fantastic breads in there.. alot of fun to make them.  I like Jeff Hamelman's books.. they are a bit more advanced though.  At least I find them to be - but they are good.

lizallen's picture
lizallen

You know, I actually recommend that you bake some online recipes. I find that there are so, so many online (like on TFL) that buying a book for the recipes is sort-of unnecessary. That being said, I am a complete book addict - not just bread books but all sorts of books. So, go to the book store and start looking. For me, what sells a book is great pictures! And I love finding books that are a little bit out of the norm - like The Little House Cookbook - there are some great rustic breads in there, plus my daughter loves it. 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Here's a list of books I recommend, Jo_Jo_.  Some are actually bread making books. ;.]


http://www.flournwater.com/food_020.htm


If you like to review books by author these authors are, IMO, among some of the best out there.


Jeffrey Hamelman
Peter Reinhart
Rose Levy Beranbaum
Daniel T. DiMuzio
Richard Bertinet