The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Interesting techniques/methods

gercio's picture

Interesting techniques/methods

Probably everyone heard about autolyse technique. Recently I read about Tang Zhong method. Do you know other interesting methods/techniques which can improve flavor or give other benefits.

Sorry for my english but I still learn.

freerk's picture

Retarding the dough (putting it in the fridge for the first rise, or during the proofing) will improve flavor in sourdough formulas.




bshuval's picture

Well, obviously there's the gamut of pre-doughs with various hydrations: poolish, sponge, biga. Then there's pate fermante (old dough). Next up is the world of sourdoughs (various hydrations, flours, with or without salt). Sourdoughs are actually more complex than that because their feeding schedule and fermentation temperature affect their flavor. There are also various different things you can feed your sourdoughs with (e.g. cooked brown rice or chickpea flour). Also, it is worth noting that sourdough yeast perform different reactions than commercial yeasts (they produce different flavor compounds. Different sourdoughs produce different acids).

Then there are soakers and mashes. You can soak various grains, chopped to different grades (from flours, to chops, to whole grain, cooked or not). You can use mashes that unleash enzyme activity in the grain, or scalds that also gelatinize the starches. Sprouting is another interesting bread technique I've lately been playing with, with great results. 

There are also interesting preparation techniques. Different kneading techniques change the dough flavor (yeast can either perform respiration, which produces gas but not much flavor, or it can ferment, which produces less gas but also flavor compounds. Respiration occurs when oxygen is present in the dough. Intensive kneading will incorporate more oxygen, leading to a faster rise but less flavor). Stretching and folding during rising improves dough strength and flavor. Some people like to give their doughs multiple rises. Another excellent technique, mentioned above, is retardation. 

I have some interesting recipes to unleavened breads. Some of these do rise (they are given a long time to spontaneously ferment), some do not. (The book "Breadtime" has an interesting collection, as well as the Tassajara bread book). 

There are some old-time breads with quite unique preparation methods. Pain brie, for example, is mixed with a very stiff dough that is pounded with a rolling pin multiple times (good to get your aggression out!). I believe that this bread is the same as Manchet, but I am not sure. Pain de beaucaire is another interesting bread. 

Believe it or not, but the shaping of the bread affects its flavor. The crust to crumb ratio has a profound effect on dough flavor. There are also operations you can do after baking, such as rasping, which I have recently read about in Rubel's "Bread". 

These are what I can think of right now, but by now means is my list exhaustive. I am constantly amazed by new methods I keep finding.