The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Am I Doing Something Horrifically Wrong?

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Postscript624's picture

Am I Doing Something Horrifically Wrong?

I've been adding all of my dry ingredients together and then adding the water slowly.  So essentially flour, salt, yeast, whatever herbs I want to try, etc.  Then I throw in the water and mix the whole thing before kneading.  The bread comes out fine-ish (I believe, I'm still pretty new at all this), but I wanted to double check that this wasn't causing any issues I didn't know about.  Thanks!

flournwater's picture

I whisk my dry ingredients together, dump in the water and mix; then knead.  Pretty much what you describe.  That's my "daily" bread and I'm happy with it.

If I want to work with something more refined (sourdough, etc.) I'll assume a gentler approach but, in any case, the dry ingredients do a Do-si-do with the whisk before I add the liquid ingredients.

One of my cookie techniques builds on a circle of flour, sugar, BP, soda and salt on the counter with some butter, flavoring and an egg cracked in the center (like making a pasta dough) along with a little and gently working the dry ingredients into the wet.  But that's for a tender cookie and I don't find that bread requires that level of tender treatment.

If your bread has the flavor and texture that pleases you and your family there's no reason to fret.  Just enjoy and share your results.  We're all here to learn.

Chuck's picture

I also often do this, mix all the dry ingredients (including yeast and salt) together at once when they're all still dry. I'm under the impression it's not standard practice ("autolyse" is generally without yeast and without salt) and I'm reluctant to suggest it to anyone else, but I must say it works for me. It allows me to be be sure of very thorough even mixing even with no kneading and very few S&F  ...and I'm less likely to "forget" something.

I've found a couple techniques that help to keep the yeast from becoming too active too soon. One is to use very cold water (right out of my filter pitcher in the refrigerator). The other is to use the old-fashioned active dry yeast rather than the newer instant yeast (not pre-dissolving ADY is "unusual"  ...but not "impossible":-).

Having the salt already in the dough for the initial autolyse-like step is not right, but my experience is it doesn't hurt too much.

cranbo's picture

Nothing wrong with mixing all dry ingredients, I do it all the time too, with certain doughs.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Salt inhibits yeast growth

  • Too much sugar can also inhibit yeast growth (but it has to be A LOT)

  • Salt helps strengthen gluten, sugar hinders it. 

I suppose if your recipe has very little yeast or a weak starter, then salt could inhibit yeast undesirably. I've never found this to be the case though. 
ssor's picture

into the flour. Pour all of the water into the center and sprinkle on the yeast and wait 5 minutes. Thien I whisk the water into the flour to a pancake batter stage (at this point I add any fat that i might use) and finish with a wooden spoon. I told My sister in law about this and the 30 minute wait before any subcequent kneading and her answer was it make sense because it allows the flour to hyrolyse. The dough makes wonderful transistion during the rest between mixing and kneading. This works for me and I make bread simply because it is better than what I can buy.

ehanner's picture

I also mix all the dry ingredients well but then I dump all the water in all at once. I find that I get less clumps when I get all of the flour wet at the same time. If there is any indication of clumps of dry flour, I do what is called a fraisage. You push the dough with the heal of your hand mushing it into the counter and squashing the dry lumps. Here is a video of a guy pushing some dry dough on the counter. You get the idea. The sooner you get the lumps out the better.


wdlolies's picture


I mix the flour with water and any herbs, if I use any.  Than I rub in the fresh yeast into the flour, just like when you rub butter into flour.  I disolve the salt in the hot water, add cold water and add the liquid to the dry stuff.  After mixing everything, I turn the mixture out of the bowl and cover it with the bowl turned upside down and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.  I than knead the dough (Richard Bertinez's method) for about 10 minutes before letting the dough rest again to at least double in size.

I never activate any yeast, whether dry or fresh.  Straight into the flour and it always, without exception, works very well for me.

All the best from Ireland


cranbo's picture

I've found when I make really wet doughs in the mixer that sometimes if I add all dry ingredients first, the flour at the very bottom doesn't get incorporated without using a spoon/spatula to get that extra stuff.

Therefore, I've found that if I add all the wet ingredients + yeast to the mixer first (e.g., water/milk, fats, etc), and then add all the dry ingredients on top of that there is never an issue with all of the dry ingredients being incorporated into the wet ones. 

This way it's one less step for me to worry about. 

LindyD's picture

If you ever decide to use the autolyse technique to allow your flour to fully hydrate, you won't use anything but flour and water initially.

Also, if you are using ingredients like raisins or nuts, those are held back until the very end of the mix. 

Bake happily!

Postscript624's picture

really helpful.  Seriously, both I and my breads thank you guys.

ssor's picture

cemen t into the mixer first and then add the water.

flournwater's picture

Looking back, I had a few cement loaf results.  But that, thankfully, is ancient history.  There are however, now that you mention it, some similarities.  You can always add water in small amounts to develop the viscosity necessary to get the job done but it's difficult to remove water once it's already in the mix.