The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Handling wet dough - a possible new technique ?

Juergen's picture
Juergen

Handling wet dough - a possible new technique ?

Lately I've been doing a lot of reading on how to best handle wet dough (dough with roughly 70% or more hydration that is). While brushing my teeth this morning, I suddenly thought about something I haven't read about anywhere as of so far. 

When making a wet dough (let's say a dough at 76%), would it be a good idea to first make the dough at a manageable hydration level (let's say 63%), knead it for a couples of minutes, let it rest for a couple of minutes and then add the final water to get to 76% ? 

By doing so, the dough should already have developed some good gluten to hold it together. When the final part of water is then mixed in, in theory it should be easier to handle the dough from that point on.

Is this a good idea or just me talking rubbish because I'm still very much inexperienced when it comes to baking high hydation loafs?

 

codruta's picture
codruta

:) I don't want to disappoint you or ruin the joy of your discovery, but this method is already "out there" and is called double hydration :)

codruta

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

The French would like to claim that they invented everything to do with bread and baking and they call this technique "bassinage".

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

book somewhere, that the French learned what they know about bread from Italians (Romans) and the Italians learned what they know about bread from the Greeks and the Greeks learned what they know about bread from the Egyptians and the Egyptians learned what they know about bread from a Jewish Bakery in Palestine that was owned by a Chinese guy who history has forgotten :-)

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

:) :) :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

thought to have brought the bread and wheel to China!   :) :) :)

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Mini,

If I remember my history lessons correctly, those Austrians were originally from Wisconsin where they had worked for generations as shoemakers.  They emigrated to Austria right after inventing the loafer and in the language confusion of English vs. German they were assigned to the bread kitchens as their already had experience in that realm.  The wheel came later.

Jeff

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Austrians love to walk all over the place!   hmmm, they''re into cheese too!  Do you suppose???

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

that gave the name 'loaf' to a particular shape of bread - because of their want to walk far in loafers? 

Don't tell anyone but, the same Chinese guy who owned the Jewish Bakery in Palestine and taught the world how to make bread had a wife, the 2nd of 4 if I remember correctly, that invented the noodle too.  This guy and his wife were the most creative food inventers the world has ever seen  - and no one even remember their names.  A shame really!

yy's picture
yy

Here is a link to a blog post that describes the double hydration technique very well, as applied to mixing a ciabatta dough (courtesy SteveB's breadcetera blog):

http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=101

SteveB also has a theory about a technique he calls "double flour addition," which has more to do with encouraging a well-aerated, open crumb than with gluten development. 

http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=157

He applies both techniques in his revised ciabatta formula:

http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=162

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Trying to add a substantial amount of water to a dry dough may be more trouble than it’s worth.  The more developed the gluten the more difficult it is to get new water incorporated, particularly if the dough you’re starting with is low in hydration.  The water just slides around the outside of the dough, making a big mess, and you end up working harder than if you had just included the water from the beginning.  The earlier you add the water, the easier it will be to incorporate but that becomes self-defeating if your goal is to avoid working with a wet dough.  I’ll leave the science to someone else and just say that these observations are based on all the times I’ve messed-up the hydration of my doughs and tried to make adjustments late in the game.

A more subtle approach would be to hold back just a little water and keep your hands and countertop wet while you knead.  This works really well with sticky rye doughs and I do it with wheat doughs as well.  There is a limit to the amount of water you can add this way before you begin to run into the problems detailed above but it helps a lot with the stickiness. 

All of that being said – anything is worth trying once so why not go for it?  Good luck!

Marcus

sandydog's picture
sandydog

No, its not a swear word but a French expression for the technique of getting water into dough in more than one stage.

If you put bassinage in the search function on this site there are a few references to explain it.

Brian

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Also known as double hydration.

If you search on that term as well, many results will appear.

Juergen's picture
Juergen

Thanks everyone, this is really helpfull information

copyu's picture
copyu

Best,

Adam