The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

oil on counter

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AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

oil on counter

I have been enjoying Dan Lepard's "the art of handmade bread" both for the recipes and because it is a good "read". Have any of you tried his method of using a small amount of oil on the counter, kneading for 10 seconds and leaving it to rest for 10 minutes, and repeating with longer rest intervals? It sounds interesting but I wonder about adding oil. I am trying to get away from using extra flour because my only piece of counter suitable for bread making is over the dishwasher and inevitably I forget to cover the door with a tea towel and get flour in the nooks and crannies. I like the stretch and fold method, also the French fold, but I am tempted to try DL's way. Didn't have time to bake this weekend so I am digging some of my old, not so great loaves out of the freezer - no way will I buy bread! A.

ostwestwin's picture
ostwestwin

I hate them. I tried this method, but I have to admit, that I don't like it. I knead all Dan Lepard doughs with my Kitchen Aid and S&F.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

AnnieT,

I don't like making a mess in my kitchen with flour dusting, so I've been using these methods below to avoid as much mess as possible. I made a couple of videos, "French Fold" and "Regular Stretch and Fold", where I show these two approaches mentioned below.

You might want to try water for most or all of your folds. I think it's a very neat and clean way. I usually first mix up the dough very minimally using bowl (my more usual way) or a mixer and let rest 30-60 minutes. I use the "French Fold" if the dough is less developed, but if you use a mixer, you could skip past this step by just letting the dough rest in the mixer for 30 minutes and then use the hook to develop the gluten on a slow speed for a few minutes to the point where it is ready to rest a while and continue with regular stretch and folds.

I'm not sure, but maybe Dan recommends oil because later on, the water doesn't lend itself as well to the formation of a good skin on what will become the top of the loaf.  My way of handling that without too much mess is I've dusted the counter with just a tiny amount of flour, on about the second or third stretch and fold. Since by then the dough is well developed, the very small amount of flour is sufficient to avoid any sticking, yet the small amount flour doesn't get everywhere and can be gathered up with a couple of strokes of a metal dough scraper or just with a very wet sponge. Maybe that would still be enough to drive you nuts over your dish washer, but it really is just a small amount of flour, so maybe it would work for you.

Bill

BROTKUNST's picture
BROTKUNST

I use my KA 600 Pro for most of my kneading. Whenever possible I prefer neither flour nor to oil the counter when working the dough on the counter.

When a coating becomes necessary I prefer to flour the counter lightly for stiffer doughs and use a light coating of oil for wet doughs. Oil on the surface of a stiffer dough, even a thin layer, may give you trouble during shaping the loaf whereas a flour bed for a wet dough is just likely to incorporate raw flour in the crumb. The later to being a major defect ...

 

BROTKUNST

rustica's picture
rustica

BWRAITH,

I LOVED your video on folding bread. After watching your video, I think I realized what I had been doing wrong with my folding.  By any chance, do you have a video on shaping a ciabatta? Everytime I fold, I seem to degass the dough, so I can't wait to try out the technique you've shown.

Thanks for the visual!

Rustica.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Rustica,

I don't have a video of folding a ciabatta, but it's essentially the same technique. If the dough is very, very wet, it will spread out on its own and doesn't need much if any encouragement. If it's somewhat wet but not spreading out like a liquid when it hits the counter, then the technique could be used in almost exactly the same way. In the video you see, the dough is less hydrated than a ciabatta dough, so I reach under it gently and spread it out by lifting it and spreading it gently. The trick is to stretch it only as much as it wants to stretch without straining the dough. If you overdo the stretching, the dough can tear or become too stiff and inelastic. It does degas it a bit with each fold, but I've noticed that the dough will normally increase in volume over time, even if the folding degasses it a little bit each time. If you are degassing the dough a lot, that isn't necessarily a huge problem, as the rising in the final proof can often make up for any degassing going on during the bulk fermentation. However, if you are degassing it a lot, don't overdo the bulk fermentation by insisting that the dough double fully in that case. If you overdo the bulk fermentation, you not get much of a rise in the final proof. This is especially true with sourdough, as the acids will rot the gluten and it won't rise well in the final proof.

When I've done ciabattas using the same basic technique, I use wet hands and a wet counter for the first few folds, but I sometimes switch to a very light flour dusting for later folds.

Bill

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Thanks everybody for the opinions. I don't have a mixer and after reading so many people's comments about not using one I decided I didn't need one - apart from the lack of space. I notice that nobody said they had actually tried the Dan Lepard method. Is there some reason for this? I would imagine it achieves the same results as the stretch and fold, but would maybe take less time? I am so thrilled to find there is no need to knead (ouch) and I think it was Bill who commiserated with me about arthritic hands. I did manage the french fold recently - I think you have to see the video to get the hang of it. We are in for some hot weather so no baking for a few days. I'm taking the grandgirls to the beach in the morning to cool my feet in Puget Sound. Tough life, eh? Thanks so much to all who responded - I LOVE this site, A

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi AnnieT,

I haven't tried oil because it just seems too messy to me. I picture washing the oil off the counter and my hands and being annoyed with having an oil slick on my counter or my hands. Water has been my favorite anti-stick tool. Light dustings with flour later but still using wet hands is my next favorite. They work for me, so the oil idea never made it to the "I'll try it" list. If you discover it works, I'll be very interested to hear about it. I notice the first poster in the thread tried it and did not like it, mentioning greasy counters.

Bill

browndog's picture
browndog

Annie, I used Dan's time-lapse method for the first few breads of his that I made. The dough does come along. I kneaded in the bowl so the oil was not an issue; neither were the breads I chose particularly wet ones. For me the difficulty is in scampering back to the dough at scheduled intervals, but if that suits you will probably find the method itself works fine.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I've used his method when I was first learning to bake bread a few months back.  I love his recipe for sourdough raisin bread and so I followed his instructions to use oil to knead.  I didn't love it but mainly because I've discovered ways that work better for me and I prefer not to use oil because I like to use a linen couche and it is advised not to let it get oil on it.

 

One thing that works so well for me in dusting an extremely light veil of flour onto the counter is to use a small, very fine-mesh sieve.  This not only works well for controlling flour both on the counter and over the top of doughs during folding but it is a great tool to use in keeping the bench flour controlled.  I use my dough scraper to clean up the flour and pile it back into the sieve for the next fold. 

 

It also works great to get rid of any bits of dough where it has stuck and dried on the counter or from your hands.  By putting that bench flour back into the sieve you can dust the amount desired the next time you handle that day's dough and then dump any hardened pieces you don't want into the trash.  It also works great to dust your couche because, again, you get such a very light dusting.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

I'd love to know an example off Amazon or KA or wherever else of the sieve you like that works for this application. It's a great idea.

Bill