The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stretchiness of dough after first rise?

poorlittlefish's picture
poorlittlefish

Stretchiness of dough after first rise?

I've made a straight dough recipe (a Paul Hollywood recipe) a few times now, using a KitchenAid Artisan for the mixing and kneading.  The end results have generally been consistent in terms of rise and softness, but what I'm not sure about is how the dough should feel after its initially risen to around double its original size.  Normally I find the dough is quite "elastic" in that I have trouble patting it out into a rectangle, for instance, because it wants to spring back.  This time around I made my dough just the same as usual, but when I transferred the dough to the worktop it was really "relaxed" and I could pull it out in all directions without it resisting.  Now I'm not sure whether the dough should be like that or stretchy!  What caused it to act so differently on this occasion, do you suppose, so I can either replicate it or avoid it next time (depending on what should happen at this stage of bread-making)?

Thanks.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Some thoughts...

I'm guessing the hydration may have changed slightly during each time? 

  • Higher hydration doughs (think ciabatta) will be less elastic than low hydration (think bagel). 

What about flour types, always the same ones? 

  • Lower protein (think cake flour) will likely be less elastic than higher protein (think high gluten pizza flour)...but see my next comment. 

What about kneading times, always exactly the same?  

  • Lightly mixed/kneaded bread (think no-knead) will likely be less elastic than intensively mixed/kneaded (think dough development & windowpane)...although I can make a very extensible, non-elastic pizza dough that is intensively kneaded yet goes through a long, cold fermentation. 

What about rise times & temps, always exactly the same? 

  • Longer fermentations will likely be less elastic than shorter fermentations. Fermentation temps may have something to do with it to (temps certainly control fermentation durations!). 
  • Warm doughs are almost always less elastic than cold doughs.

 

poorlittlefish's picture
poorlittlefish

Thanks for your suggestions.  The hydration and flour types are always the same.  I use a plant propagator with thermastat control for the temperature, so in theory that should be the same, but the rising time has been longer (about 2 hours) the past couple of times, probably due to the ambient temperature being colder.

The only thing I may have done a little differently this time is keep the dough in the KitchenAid for an extra couple of minutes.  I gave it 10 mins but am still after the elusive windowpane effect, so kept it going for an extra 2 mins.

Is it right to say, then, that the elasticity of the dough after its initial rise won't actually affect the end result one way or the other?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Is it right to say, then, that the elasticity of the dough after its initial rise won't actually affect the end result one way or the other?

I'm not sure that I'd go that far. After initial rise (bulk fermentation), your next step would typically be shaping. Depending on your end product, some elasticity can be good. For example, for baguette, if it's too soft and slack, it's tough to get a tight skin and the right shape; OTOH, if it's too elastic, it's tough to shape into the correct length. OTOOH, for pizza you generally don't want much (if any) elasticity.  

You can control this somewhat by the flour type and the mixing time. Mix less and/or use softer flour if you want more extensibility. Mix more and/or use harder flour if you want more elasticity. 

Water quality may also affect your extensibility. Any changes there? 

I struggled with the elusive windowpane and my KA for some time. Txfarmer's notes about intensive mixing helped out a lot. In my KA Artisan, I run 8-10 min at speed #4 to get that windowpane effect. What speed do you run?

poorlittlefish's picture
poorlittlefish

I've not dared go beyond #2 because that's what the manual says is the maximum.  I was worried about burning out the motor, but you obviously haven't had any problems so I might give that a go.

No changes with the water quality.  Am I reading you right in terms of the mixing times affecting elasticity?  This time around I mixed for longer and the dough was a lot more "relaxed" and easy to pull out without resistance, but isn't that the opposite of what you've said?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Yeah, I'm familiar with that issue in the manual. Yes, officially it may void your warranty. Yes, quite a few people with KA mixers do this anyway.

Am I reading you right in terms of the mixing times affecting elasticity?  This time around I mixed for longer and the dough was a lot more "relaxed" and easy to pull out without resistance, but isn't that the opposite of what you've said?

I'm not sure how/if I contradicted myself, but here goes another perspective:

I do believe mixing time does affect elasticity, but it's not the only factor. I think most would agree that more mixing leads to stronger dough, but only to a point. Fermentation time is another factor in play with mixing; if you develop a really strong dough, but then let it ferment for a long(er) time, the long fermentation will still reduce elasticity and increase extensibility. 

Temperature may be worth a 2nd look: according to Suas in Advanced Bread and Pastry:

Warmer dough generates more fermentation activity and stronger dough, while cooler dough lowers fermentation activity and created weaker dough.

...and you did mention longer fermentation due to colder ambient temps.

BTW, ABP has a nice section on dough strength, taking into account many of the factors I listed, and more (that section should be viewable on Google Books.)