The Fresh Loaf

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Mixers and Sourdough? or: Baking Brad

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andychrist's picture
andychrist

Mixers and Sourdough? or: Baking Brad

Again forgive me if this has been discussed a lot here before, but I'd like to know whether it is practicable to knead up a sourdough in any kind of electric mixer.  Years ago I used a Presto hand crank mixer with fine results; still have that gizmo too but it is in storage upstate plus it was kind of a PITA to use because the riveted handles had worn loose and could not be tightened. Also used to have a 600W Braun Kitchen machine which, sadly, is currently only being manufactured for the European market; it made great dough but I can't remember now whether I ever attempted sourdough in it.

So does anyone here employ either the Universal or Compact Bosh, or Braun K-650, in making sourdough? If so, what is the trick to it?  Followed the links on this forum to Bosch's Baker Brad whipping up 12 lbs of [freshly ground!] whole wheat dough in the Universal Plus, during which he mentioned that six minutes of knead time was the equivalent to two rises! But of course he was referring only to the development of the gluten; were one starting with a sour rather than just throwing in instant yeast, an additional twelve hours or so of rise would still be needed to get the thing going, I reckon. But now how would that work, could you just take the dough from the Bosch and divide and shape it into loaves as in the video, and let them rise in their pans until approximately doubled in size before baking? Or, would you still have to proof the dough for X hours before forming into loaves, which would then need to rise another hour? Perhaps there is some entirely different method for making sourdough with a mixer but I haven't been able to find anything about this so far. On a positive note, Brad did mention that using the Bosch with his whole grain recipe allowed for a greater hydration than one could achieve by hand. Well that sure sounded off bells!

Thanks in advance for any tips.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Why would a sourdough be any different from using Commercial yeast? Of course you can use the mixer. For the batch size I normally make, I use my food processor for just 15 seconds and then use stretch and folds for the remainder of the development.

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Well then you are not using the food processor in the same way as one would normally employ a mixer when creating doughs with commercial yeast, if you are still doing all those stretch and folds. In the Bosch video, Baker Brad simply kneads the dough in the Universal for six minutes, then shapes it into loaves to let rise only once in the pans. That's quite different from the artisanal, NK technique one generally employs in baking sourdoughs and a lot less work/time consuming. Of course, your method does take advantage of the food processors ability to mix up a lot of dough at once, which is difficult to do by hand with just a mixing bowl and a whisk. Think the most I can cope with like that is about three pounds. I've done about five or six pounds at a throw using a manual dough mixer, but that was a real chore.

What I'd still like to know is whether/how Bosch's Baker Brad's six minute method might be adapted to sourdough recipes.




tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

"Well then you are not using the food processor in the same way as one would normally employ a mixer when creating doughs with commercial yeast, if you are still doing all those stretch and folds."

Yes, I am. Most of the better bread recipes out there use some combination of mixing in the mixer and a long fermentation with stretch and folds, regardless of whether it's sourdough or commercial yeast.

The only real consideration is that sourdough *requires* a long fermentation time, so it's best not to take the dough to full development in the mixer, because the dough will get stronger as it ferments. With commercial yeast, you have the choice of long fermentation or short fermentation. And actually, you can quicken the sourdough fermentation by spiking it with a little commercial yeast, which is what I do to get a two hour rise.

Baker Brad's technique is yeast-independent, so yes, you can do that with sourdough. But shortening the fermentation time like that means less flavor, so there is a penalty for convenience.

chris319's picture
chris319

Brad is doing quite a bit of kneading on the counter rather than in the machine.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Andy, don't think you need to hear any more from me, but here goes.  I had not seen the Brad video before, but my thoughts are as follows.  Yes, it is easier to make a high hydration dough with an electric mixer than kneading by hand, since when you knead by hand it is common to flour your hands and the bench as you knead and by adding flour, you will decrease the hydration. On the other hand, if you knead a high hydration dough by stretch and folds,  I normally rinse, but don't dry my hands, so if anything, the dough gets more hydrated during the S & F, not less.  I have heard the claim that the kneading by the Bosch is so efficient that you don't need a second rise - I don't know anything about the science behind the claim, but it strikes me as doubtful.  No matter how much you knead it, if you give it more time to rise and develop, as tgrayson says, it will taste better.   Finally,  I mix my sourdough breads and conventional yeast in the same mixer, no difference.  While sourdough requires different rising times, the time in the mixer is the same for me.   You might want to do a browse of some recipes in the sourdough section and see if they say any different, since I don't make much in the way of sourdough .     

andychrist's picture
andychrist

Thanks for all the helpful info, guys.  Yeah I was looking for sourdough rye recipes that involved electric mixers but couldn't find any.  Guess this explains it! I just labored over about five pounds of dough, which I split into two batches.  The first I mixed entirely with the Danish dough whisk, didn't touch any of it with my hands for the first three stretch and folds. Other batch I kneaded vigorously and continuously — really pummeling it — until it felt as smooth as I knew it could get. Did not want to alter the hydration so neither floured nor wet my hands, just let the dough stick to myself.  Yuck.  Both batches seem to have come out the same, I can't tell the two bowls of dough apart. Won't flour them to shape, instead I roll the balls of dough around in sesame seeds until they are uniformly covered. Because my starter is ridiculously vigorous, and my apartment so dreadfully overheated, I'm only going to let the loaves rise this once so they don't overproof. ...Just checked and they've already doubled in size, it's been about an hour. Am sure they will come out tasting quite sour, despite the short fermentation time.  I mixed in grapefruit juice. :)