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Issues with kneading and overnight proofing

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socialcow's picture
socialcow

Issues with kneading and overnight proofing

I have been trying to master two recipes, the only ones I have allowed myself to try until I get them right.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/amish-white-bread/detail.aspx

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/very-basic-bread-recipe/index.html

With both I have more or less the same problem when it comes to kneading, which I am doing by hand. With the several times I have done these two recipes, the dough seems to never reach what it's supposed to, judging by Alton Brown stretching a small piece of it and seeing light through it, when I try that it just tears, no matter how long I knead it always get the same result. After letting it rise, it seems it becomes a lot more elastic, the end result of the breads seems to be nice, fluffy specially the white amish recipe, and chewy which to me is desirable in bread.

What I have one question about though is something that I can't seem to find. I have seen where some will let their dough proof in the refrigerator. I let it proof at room temperature and was wondering if there is anything not right with that method, when I get it ready to bake the next day it still springs up in the oven and it has a certain beer aroma to it. I have the most success with the white amish bread recipe, but have kneading problems with both. Any tips?

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

Hi,

Well, as to kneading, check your technique... here's a great video by a fellow TFL'er who runs a bakery, Mark Sinclair:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVewUbE2YOM

Watch it several times if necessary, and try to emulate how he's pulling the dough up, and then pushing it back into itself (twice, before turning it). You have to use the dough's own resistance to get the gluten to line up and strengthen. Once you are confident that you are working the dough correctly (fingers to pull it up, lower palms to push down), then we might discuss how long to do it. This will depend on your strength, and the amount of dough you're working with. For a fairly normal sized amount, say 700-900 grams, I knead in this fashion for 15 minutes. I then check the window pane, and might need to add another 5 minutes. I never go more than 20 minutes. Kneading develops particular muscle groups in your hands, wrists and forearms (while at times reducing your back to jelly ; ) ). You will develop strength over time and become more efficient at it, regardless of gender or size. I've seen women who couldn't be more than 90 lbs soaking wet whip a batch of dough into shape in 8-10 minutes.

Stetching a window pane has to be practiced. You aren't just ripping the dough apart, you are coaxing it 'open', yet being sort of firm about it. It's hard to describe in English words, but suffice to say, if you're too rough or firm, it will always rip, and may fool you into thinking it's under-developed. If you learn to make a round, it involves tucking the bottom edges of the shape underneath itself and repeating, which makes the outside taught, like the skin of a balloon. If you can do this, and get a nice 'sheen' to your dough, it's probably developed enough. Here again, if you tighten to a certain point, of course it's going to rip. When you first round it up, the 'skin' should be rather rough looking, almost like chicken skin with tiny pocks. As you begin to tuck and tighten, the roughness and pocks should give way to a very smooth sheen. If you look deep into that sheen, you should see some defined gluten strands, just like you see in a window pane. This is just another way of checking dough development, if you're unsure whether you're doing a window pane test properly. You should have both of these techniques mastered and available to you over time.

Finally, if you're convinced your dough isn't developed enough, or you want to purposefully cut back on your kneading, you can do several stretch and folds about 20 mins apart. Mark also has several videos showing this technique. I would highly suggest you watch every video he has so generously put up on his YouTube account. You will come away inspired that you can duplicate his techniques well enough to at least get some dough into the oven. You can 100% knead, 100% fold, or do some kneading followed by a few folds. Whatever gets you to where you need to be...

>I have seen where some will let their dough proof in the refrigerator.

It's more accurate to say that some retard their dough in the refrigerator. This deliberately slows down the yeast activity. This might be done for timing (can't get it to the oven until later), or to develop a more full-bodied flavor profile. Both reasons are equally valid. There is nothing wrong with proofing at room temperature, we all do it when we need to. As long as you're prepared to take the next step within a few minutes or so of when the dough demands that next step, by all means room temperature is a valid proofing environment. Some actually accelerate proofing time by placing fermenting dough into a warmer environment than room temperature. This is also valid if there's a reason for it.

Good luck with the next loaf! Watch videos! There's sooo many available on YouTube now... you can kill days and/or weeks watching them all and absorbing.

- Keith

Cachi's picture
Cachi

Assuming you are not using pastry flour which is low in gluten, one step which perhaps people ignore is the autolyse. This is a very important step and is done by mixing the flour and water (no salt and no yeast or starter although some might argue you can add the starter at this time). This process allows the flour to absorb the water and can either be done at room temperature (30-60min) or in the refrigerator for 12 hrs. You would then add the salt and starter/yeast and do your S&F. You will instantly notice a transformation in the gluten strands with subsequent S&Fs, the dough becoming softer and taffy-like.

Proofing at room temperature or at cooler temperatures (retarding) are both acceptable, the latter giving your bread a more complexe and acidic taste.

Some say you cannot overknead by hand and probably is not your problem. There are no-knead recipes out there and these require long fermentation times (18-24 hrs. at cool temperatures ~60-70 degrees). You still end up with a soft and open crumb if the hydration is high (> 75%). Make sure you are using a good quality flour.

Good luck

socialcow's picture
socialcow

Thank you all for the replies, I will watch those videos you recomended.

Sorry about the text but I wasn't able to edit it until now, it had been considered a spam submission... Thanks for all the tips, I was under the impression that the problem was coming from a over usage of flour during kneading and not kneading technique specificly.

I am using White Lily unbleached bread flour. What will be the difference between a bread that has been properly kneaded and one that hasn't, in its texture after it is baked?

 

Edit: I just seen the video on kneading you recommended, and imediatly am able to recognise one of my problems, aparently I am stretching the dough a lot more than he is on that video, and am also folding it on to itself quiet a bit and he doesn't until he lets it rest the first time. Thanks

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

You could very well be using too much flour, it's impossible for us to tell from a message board. Suffice to say that you want to use the minimum amount necessary to keep handling the dough, unless of course you are intentionally needing to add more flour to adjust your recipe on-the-fly (this should be rare if you weigh your ingredients). Give stretch and fold extra points there for not adding much flour. Take away points because you have to drag the dough out 3 or 4 times. Back to kneading... as you become more experienced at kneading, you will see and feel the dough changing as you knead, which will eventually do away with the need for several window pane tests. You'll know, as it will cycle through several changes. You start out with shaggyness that tends to not be very cohesive. A few minutes later, it will tighten up, quite a bit actually. It might even become 'bucky', and you'll notice that when you finish a stroke, it will snap back towards itself quite sharply. A few minutes later, it will soften and start to feel 'doughy'. Instead of snapping back into itself, it will slowly come back. All these signs are dough development happening right in your hands. The fact is, a completely blind person could learn to properly develop dough without the aid of any visual cues, as the changes that happen are quite noticeable to both feel and look.

About 2-3 minutes into a kneading session, the palm area right below your thumbs should start to thicken with wet dough and the bench flour. This creates a 'skin' that makes it easier to continue kneading, while needing less flour to do so. If you take note of this phenomenon, you'll know you're kneading correctly. Once you start to expect this 'skin' to develop, you will easily be able to become more efficient with your strokes, and use less bench flour, both very desired results. Regardless of your level of kneading ability, your goal is the development of the dough. Dough cannot be 'properly kneaded' as an end result or goal. It can be 'properly kneaded' as an act of reaching a goal (and since there are so many kneading techniques, 'proper' becomes quite subjective). Dough needs to be 'properly developed', and a proper kneading technique can get you there. That's just jargon that will help you communicate with us, and us with you. Using this site, you will run into the term 'dough development' quite often. Recipes you run across will often be presented with an electric mixer doing the dough development, or a bread machine on the kneading cycle. You can easily convert these to manual kneading or stretch/folding, as the vehicle doesn't really matter, the end dough development does.

So, a "dough that hasn't been properly kneaded" is translated to "dough that hasn't been properly developed". The difference in texture will certainly be apparent, but you will lose many other things in the process, such as proper overall loaf tension, proper or desired crust, proper loaf expansion prior to baking, and proper loaf expansion once exposed to heat (oven spring).

Suffice to say that improper dough development will cause almost all other aspects of your bread baking to fail, and as such, should therefore be your main goal to master. You can't master shaping and you can't fine tune things like crust and oven spring until you are consistently producing properly developed dough up front.

Hope all that helps! = )

- Keith

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I am using White Lily unbleached bread flour.

If you're having issues with gluten development, along with many other things you might also try temporarily switching to a different brand of flour (such as  Gold Medal "Better For Bread" or King Arthur Flour "Bread"). The White Lily "Bread" flour has 11.7% gluten (at least it used to:-), the same as King Arthur Flour "All Purpose" and only a bit higher than Gold Medal "All Purpose".

White Lily "Bread" flour should work perfectly fine for bread  ...in the end. But while you're fiddling with gluten development, it might help to use a "stronger" flour.

Cachi's picture
Cachi

"I am using White Lily unbleached bread flour. What will be the difference between a bread that has been properly kneaded and one that hasn't, in its texture after it is baked?"

One major difference in texture would be a dense crumb since an under-developped gluten would not stretch and trap gas allowing expansion as the loaf bakes. You described your breads as fluffy so I presume this is not your problem. If your dough is doubling in volume during the bulk fermentation then I think you're OK.

Aside from the window pane technique,  a well devolopped dough will pull away from its container in one mass and will resist tearing and stretch like taffy.

You might want to post some pictures to allow people to weigh in.

socialcow's picture
socialcow

The loaf pictured above is from Alton Brown's recipe, it does not turn out fluffy like the other one, it is very chewy, which I like, but I'm sure that's not how that recipe is suppose to turn out.

I'm now making a new batch of the Amish bread recipe, pictured above is the dough resting after being mixed and kneaded. I took into detail the video and y'alls comments, took more time measuring and mixed with more care and attention using a wooden spoon, the dough was felt much softer and stretchier with less resistance much like in the video, and didn't require nearly the amount of flour I used to use when kneading. Left it to rest or autolyse for 30 minutes and then... Do I knead it again until a sheen surface is formed?

socialcow's picture
socialcow

Keith, I think I managed to achieve proper dough development, what do you think?

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

I think you know what I think... ; )

You can see the gluten strands, it's starting to ever so slightly tear, but it's not ripping. Looks great! Congrats!

- Keith

msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

The Amish Bread recipe you are using is excellent and nearly foolproof. All the advice given to you is good, however, if you follow the recipe, you will make wonderful bread. It is very tasty and makes great toast. I do not autolyse (hope I spelled that right) this recipe since it does not call for it. It certainly won't hurt but sometimes too much concentration is given to every tiny detail, when this recipe is fairly quick and easy. I've been making it for a long time and it is hard to beat. You may want to cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup, if you read the comments, most folks did as it is sweet enough at 1/2 cup. Actually, just right. I never really windowpaned it either, but it is a good idea to do it. Jean P. (VA)

 

socialcow's picture
socialcow

Well, the only reason I have given that much attention to all the details on this one, is because I felt that there was something I was doing wrong, something just didn't feel right about it even though it was delicious lol.

 

Thank you all for the comments, I have read about this being a foolproof recipe, what other recipe would be good to try that is good for a begginner but not exacly foolproof?