The Fresh Loaf

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Can I Autolyse for 12 or more hours with just flour and water?

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Can I Autolyse for 12 or more hours with just flour and water?

I want to try a twist to the Tartine Bread I have been making. 

I want just the flour and water to sit for 12 or 15 hours and then add the leaven and start the process.   (instead of the book instructions of Autolyse with the flour, water and leaven for 40 minutes)

What do you think would happen? Would something like that work?

Thanks for your time?

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Bread Head,

Yes it would be possible. I will often use an autolyse of 5-6 hrs while the last levain/starter is developing. How much 'wet time' your dough can handle will come down to the flour you are using. Experiment and give it a go ... it will leave you with a silky dough at the end of the autolyse and the dough will come together very quickly when mixing. I think 15 hours could be a little excessive and I would be inclined to perhaps use the fridge for part of it so the enzymes don't run amok and leave you with a sloppy mess. Also getting the dough temperature correct when it comes to mixing can be a little tricky ... you will want the autolyse mix to be at the correct temperature just before mixing in the starter.

Mixing in the liquid starter will be a bit messy also ... normally liquid starters are mixed in with a autolyse as they can contain a substantial part of the entire doughs liquid. The Tartine formula should be pretty safe as the proportion of starter is quite small.

Give it a go and see how your flour performs :)

Cheers,
Phil

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Thank you all.

Phil I really like your blog and pictures named "Spring Changes".  How did you get such a beautiful open crumb?  Is it because of the mixture of all those flours?  I can't wait to achieve that one day.  Is it possible with the Tartine Bread?

FlourChild thats what I was wondering; what are the health benefits (you mentioned amylase?) and how will that change the look of my bread (will I get large irregular holes in the crumb)?

Thank you all.

 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hey Bread Head,

There are so many processes that go into producing a bread with an open crumb like that ... and yes, have a look at some of the great Tartine bread people have produced here on thefreshloaf ... it is definitely possible with that formula.

First and formost you have to understand your starter ... really understand it ... this will take time ... and it needs to be in top notch condition and used at that perfect moment. An old tired acidic starter just won't give you the results you want.

Secondly, ingredients are also very important ... I am in Australia and have spent a lot of time experimenting with different flours ... I know what I like in a flour now and I can get pretty consistent results. Saying that I just made the same bread using a T65 french flour and was still able to get the same kind of crumb.

Lastly is the process ... how you manage the fermentation, handle the dough, how you shape and how you bake it. You can have the nicest dough in the world ruined by an ordinary oven :)

So it's not really one thing ... a long autolyse by itself won't give you an open crumb if the rest of the pieces of the puzzle don't fall into place. I use a long autolyse because it works well with my schedule and reduces my mixing times. It give the crumb a beautiful silky sheen!

Cheers,
Phil

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Phil thanks so much for your time!  

Can you give me some direction or tips to know when my starter is in "perfect moment" to use?  I keep a very little thing of starter, probably 40 grams and feed it every morning about 8:30 am, and it rises and falls.

 The night before I am going to make a leaven I feed the starter an extra time at 8:30 pm so in the morning around 9:00 am I use a tablespoon of it to start my leaven. (so the starter is 12 hours old when I use it not 24 hours)

Also what kind of oven do you have?  I have a Bertazzoni 30 four burner gas range.

 http://us.bertazzoni.com/professional-series/ranges/30-four-burner-gas-range

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

that even 24 hour autolyse in the fridge is possible and have successfully done it for txfarmers 36 hour baguettes that call for a 24 hour autolyse if I remember correctly.  I do 12 hours every once in a while in the fridge no problem for all kinds of different breads.   Never done it on the counter though.

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

IMHO, one of the top reasons to put flour and water through a long (overnight or more) autolyse is to get plenty of activity from amylase, which releases sugar from the starch.   I've always done a long autolyse in the fridge, followed by an hour or two at room temp to warm things up before mixing.

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Bread Head, you asked about amylase- I think of a long autolyse as primarily affecting flavor, rather than openess of crumb.  Giving amylase time to do its work gives the bread more natural sugar and produces a richer taste.  It also allows enough time for some gluten to form, reducing the amount of kneading.  Less time kneading means less oxidation of the natural carotenoids in the flour, which also produces a more flavorful bread.

Some of the more important factors that help produce an open crumb are higher hydration (wetter doughs), gentle handling through stretch/folding and shaping, and plenty of steam in the oven (or a dutch oven).  

Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

FlourChild thank you for that great explanation!.............I often have trouble understanding answers because they are not explained in a simple fashion and I am so new.

About the open crumb........... I want to achieve the crumb that I see on Phil's Blog called "Spring Changes"  and like the picture on page 78 of the Tartine book.  That is the crumb that I am striving for.

My doughs are always 75% hydration or higher................I am always gentle with the stretch and fold..............But I don't have a steam oven, I use the cast iron combo cooker.

Does the steam in an oven play that important of a roll in the crumb?  Or what does my hydration need to be?

Thanks.

 

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Your cast iron cooker should work just fine to contain the steam that comes off the wet dough as it bakes, no additional oven steam needed.

The Tartine formula has all the components to produce a crisp, artisanal crust and the sort of open crumb you desire.  However, this is what I would consider an advanced loaf to learn to make, if you are new to bread baking it would be natural to take some time to develop the skills to make a loaf like that.  You don't need additional hydration or additional oven steam. 

I'm not sure what your current Tartine loaves look like, but perhaps focus on getting just the right amount of structure from a combination of autolyse, stretch and folds, and fermentation.  And then focus on shaping, which can be very tricky with such a slack dough:  you want to preserve the holes in the dough (not press them out), yet get a relatively tight skin around the outside.

Good luck!