The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Overmixed Baguette Dough?

storunner13's picture
storunner13

Overmixed Baguette Dough?

So...first post.

I've baked a number of breads before, but decided to do a little research and try making baguettes (just to be tough on myself).  Anyways, I was following the Bouabsa recipe (or at least I think I was following it).  But I'm pretty sure I overmixed it.  Being a newbie, I was expecting the stickyness to eventually go away leaving me with a smooth and elastic dough.  However, as I now understand, the stickyness should never go away.

Nevertheless, the dough is now in the fridge, cold fermenting for tomorrows shape and bake.  What should I expect from my overmixed dough (IS it overmixed?)  Can I do anything to save it now or tomorrow?

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

Wait, what makes you think it's overmixed? (over kneaded?)

storunner13's picture
storunner13

Well, I did a French Fold for a long time (over an hour), and then decided to let it rest for 20. French folded for 5 more minutes, rested 20, finally 5 more minutes. Maybe it's not over mixed...but the videos and explanations I watched mixed for a short time, and seemed to have a much more hydrated dough.  And, I think the gluten much tougher in my dough than it does in the videos.

Alternatively to fixing, or leaving, I could make more tonight, and just have a shorter cold ferment in the fridge.

Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

You folded the dough for an hour? That must have been a workout.

Anyway, if the dough seems alright then I can't think of any reason to scrap it. It might not be exactly what you were aiming for but this is no fatal flaw.

storunner13's picture
storunner13

It was a workout.  It was fun though.

I think I'll just leave it, hope for the best, and at least learn from my mistakes.  Thanks for the helpful support!

Paul2274's picture
Paul2274

Yea I'm ready to call it quits after 10 mins of hand kneeding a dough... but an hour??? were you in a trance ;-) and you had fun?

I've got a bunch of yard work if you want to help.... it really fun!  Just kidding with ya. Sounds like it might be over done a bit..... might want to try and make a pizza dough out of that one. Just a thought though.

Let us know what ya decided and how it turned out.

 

Paul

 

ps I bet you have huge arms!  ;-)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

It's essentially impossible to over-mix by hand. For this slack dough, you want very good gluten development. I always use the stretch and fold in the bowl technique every 30 minutes for the first couple hours or three of bulk fermentation, then do a couple of stretch and folds on the board over the next 90 minutes before I cold retard the dough. At this point, the dough is rather smooth and not as sticky.

Time is your friend when it comes to gluten development, thus the success of the "no knead" approach. The stretch and folds help develop the gluten but also "organize" the strands. Folding the dough folds the strands of gluten over each other resulting in cross-linking of the gluten molecules, thus "strengthening" the dough.

When it comes time to form the baguettes, the dough is much less sticky, although still stickier than a 65% baguette dough. To get good final shape, make sure you develop a tight gluten sheath when you pre-shape and shape. Be sure to proof on a couche that provides lateral support to the baguettes to prevent them from spreading out. You should get dramatic oven spring and nicely shaped breads.

If you have other questions, please do ask.

Happy baking!

David

storunner13's picture
storunner13

Thanks for you comments... especially the tip to about using a couche.

A quick question:  I understand the couche is used for 2 purposes: to keep the dough from spreading out, and to absorb some moisture from the outside for a drier crust.  Is there a way I can mimic a commercial couche ata  home?  Unfortunately, odd circumstances leave me without a thin cotton towel.  Could I use a t-shirt? or perhaps just parchment paper and a thick towel to cover?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You can use parchment paper as a couche, and I do this with a few breads, but it doesn't absorb moisture. Some use floured kitchen towels. I'm afraid the dough would stick to them. The best material is baker's linen. You can order this from SFBI, and it's not expensive. I strongly recommend getting "the real thing." Those who do are astonished at the difference it makes.

David

kristakoets's picture
kristakoets

Hi David,

I've read so many of your posts and watched the S&F videos, etc....but I am still confused. Sigh. I am old-school when it comes to kneading...I worked in a neighborhood sourdough bakery many years ago and our procedure was to mix, autolyse, knead for 8-15 min (depending on the type of dough), then bulk ferment in a warm proofing room in huge tubs, punching down every 30 to 45 min for 3-4 hours. Then bench, place in bannetons/couches, cover with linen, retard 12 hours, then bake.

My questions are: how does using the S&F technique alter this procedure? Do I still knead (by hand or machine)? If so, how long do I knead? Will it affect bulk ferment or retard times? Has anyone done any side by side tests to determine which method is preferable? Also, is this a preferred method when using whole wheat flour as part of the formula? If so, why?

I am using the S&F with little hand kneading (2-3 minutes) right now. My loaves are pretty good, but sometimes the crumb has ridiculous huge holes (the cave where the baker sleeps comes to mind!) and sometimes my loaves blow out, too. I probably have multiple things going wrong :-)

Thanks for finally clearing this up (and if you have addressed this a thousand times before in this forum, I apologize in advance and beg your indulgence!!)

Cheers!

~Krista

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I must confess, I never really got into "old school" kneading. Maybe I don't have the attention span. There are some breads I knead briefly after a machine mix, but I usually do a couple S&F's instead. Increasingly, I've been making higher hydration (70%+) breads, and these develop so nicely with S&F in the bowl. One big advantage is that it's neater. I don't have to deal with sticky dough on the board. I use a silicon spatula for S&F in the bowl, so I don't have to deal with sticky dough on my hands, either. 

Since I don't have experience with traditional kneading, I can't compare this with what I use. AFAIK, there should be no difference in the length of bulk fermentation. I make many breads with small amounts (10-20%) whole grains using S&F in the bowl. The breads I make with 50-100% whole grains I machine mix, but I don't see why I couldn't mix them by hand and use S&F's.

I don't think your problem with too large holes or blow outs has anything to do with the mixing method. It has to do with how you form the loaves. Look at these two crumb photos.

Hamelman's Pain au Levain, example 1.

Hamelman Pain au Levain, example 2.

These two loaves were made with the same formula and the same method, both as prescribed by Hamelman in "Bread." The only difference is that, in example 2., I degassed the dough pieces more vigorously prior to pre-shaping. The result was a nice, classic sourdough bread crumb with a random distribution of different size holes. In example 1., you see distinct areas of denser crumb with several too large holes. 

I could show you photos of the two loaves before slicing, and I dare say you couldn't say which loaf goes with which crumb. 

Blow outs generally are caused by a combination of defects in loaf shaping (particularly in sealing the seams) and under-proofing.

I hope this helps.

David

Salilah's picture
Salilah

David - thanks lots for these examples!  Very helpful (and all the other advice on shaping, S&F etc...)

 

kristakoets's picture
kristakoets

Thanks David,

Obviously i have to work on my shaping techniquues...don't do much degassing for fear of deflating entirely...but I will certainly give it a shot, and I have completely lost my technique for shaping batards...kills me when I think how many of those things I made during a full year as a production baker...but, alas, time marches on and it has been 14 years! I think I need to develop the gluten a bit more than I have been, especially since I am using such a large proportion of whole wheat in my loaves. I will try it out and let you know how it comes out. Your first photo looks just like my last loaf of cinnamon maple SD...for some reason your second photo is just a red x on my laptop! Anyway, happy baking and thanks for the input.

Cheers,

~Krista

storunner13's picture
storunner13

Well, despite my fears, the bread turned out very well!  I definitely need a sharper blade to score the tops though..especially since the cloth on top absorbed some of the moisture from outside.  No deflating, luckily.  They sprung well in the oven, and colored and crisped well.  They might have been a bit tougher than if I hadn't kneaded as much (I really kneaded a lot).  The crumb was pretty good!  I wish I had a working picture to show.  Could've used a few more larger holes, but that might come with the moisture I lost from kneading..or something.

Thanks again for the help!  I can't wait to do this again! (maybe tomorrow?!)