The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kneading for open crumb?

  • Pin It
MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Kneading for open crumb?

I am baking almost daily now, every time trying to get at least semi-big air pockets, and going by high hydration recipes.

STILL not getting it though, and I think it is down to how I handle the dough just before baking, but just to be sure I am not missing something, I have a small question...

 

I have seen a lot of contradiction claims about how much you should knead your dough when you want large holes and open crumb.

Some say you should beat the hell out of it till it is like an incredibly elastic bunch of chewing gum.

Others say that the less you touch the dough, the better it would be.

 

So what do you guys, who get these nice, above ½-inch large holes, do?

Ford's picture
Ford

Increase the hydration of the dough for bigger holes.  This makes the dough more difficult to knead, so try alternative methods, such as the "stretch and fold" method of kneading.

Ford

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Hello Ford. I work almost exclusively with 75% and 90%, to be sure that is at least right.

That is why I am trying the process of elimination, and that is why I am asking this question about kneading.

Because honestly, this seems to change from recipe to recipe, and from person to person.

I have read here on the forum, and on another website about how developing the gluten too much will give uniform holes.

At the same time I find tons of recipes in books and online where they emphasize PLEANTY of kneading, and still show the pictures with the lovely crumb.

SO I am trying to find out what this is all about.

Xenophon's picture
Xenophon

describes various mixing methods and their influence on crumb structure.  It is possible to really tailor these to the result you wish to obtain.  An open crumb structure with non-uniform holes is achievable, high hydration helps, especially when kneading manually (in combo with correct stretch in/folding and shaping) but you can achieve the same at lower hydration using proper mechanical mixing.  I highly recommend this book.

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

I would love to go through that book, but £30 is steep for a student like me..
So I guess it goes on the wishlist ;)

ChrisC's picture
ChrisC

youtube seems to have quite a bit on on the stretch and fold techniqe and "holy" bread 

Craig_the baker's picture
Craig_the baker

are the result of high hydration (which you already knew) and as little handling as possible. The more you knead the dough, the tighter the crumb will be. As Ford said above, stretch and fold your way to big holes. Check out Chad Robertson's second book and he will lay out the road map to the most awesome bread you have ever made or tasted.

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Is that the one called "Tartine Bread"? It's pretty affordable, so maybe I should see if I can find the money for it.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Weakness in the dough structure causes holes and so the key word here is extensibility.

There is a difference between gluten development and the aligning of gluten.

It's not conflicting that minimal kneading and maximum kneading cause holes. You can create large holes either way. It is true that more kneading develops and aligns gluten into a more organised structure but the game doesn't end there providing your dough has much extensibility. 

Stretching and folding the dough throughout bulk fermentation and not knocking it back when shaping is key. But you should make sure that gluten has sufficiently developed be it passively or mechanically prior to this.

preferences for holes:

weaker flour, but not too weak.
higher hydration
mixing wet to dry not dry to wet
autolyse
pre-ferments
passive development / minimal kneading

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

It makes sense to me that less kneading would give more variation in "structural uniformity" in the bread, but at the same time I thought that the bubble walls would burst too soon, as I noticed 15+ minutes of kneading would make it pass the windowtest, and have way more elasticity.

I was thinking if you would mind answering a few more questions? You seem to know what you are talking about...

Does it matter how much air I trap when kneading? According to Mcgee on Food and Cooking, the air bubbles grow from already existing ones in the dough. That would also favor stretch and fold over mixing in machine with a hook.

Should I proof the dough? Or can I avoid that if I am just that careful when moving the dough to the oven?

So for a good starting point, I should put water into flour, not vice versa, wait 20-30 min, add salt and poolish/yeast, stretch and fold till just smooth, rise, and then with minimal handling get the bread in the oven and bake it?

Aaaand, why the hell do some people then put so much attention into heavily kneading the bread?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Does it matter how much air I trap when kneading?

No.

Should I proof the dough?

Up to you. I would.

So for a good starting point, I should put water into flour, not vice versa,

No sorry when I said wet to dry I meant in order. So I meant put the water in the mixing bowl first, then mix flour in. Don't make a dough that starts out firm and let down with water. Start with a slurry and make it firmer. The reason being that when kneading firmer doughs gluten is worked more effectively than in a wet dough.

Aaaand, why the hell do some people then put so much attention into heavily kneading the bread?

probably because it's a shortcut to good gluten.

Some hole candy for ya, from back in the day when I was ciabatta obsessed: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/199518#comment-199518

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Awesome, thanks!

And yea, damn, looking good!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You need to stretch and fold the dough to develop the gluten, whether that's done by machine or by hand. Gluten is necessary to trap the CO2 generated by fermentation. CO2 pockets in gluten containers create the holes you are after. It is not that you are trapping air through kneading.

Now, the choice of machine versus hand stretching and folding creates the difference between a crumb with evenly-sized holes versus a crumb with holes of highly varying size, randomly distributed. Machine kneading is .... well, mechanical. It is doing exactly the same motions over and over and over again. If you look at the gluten web under a microscope, it looks like woven fabric. Using stretch and folds by hand to develop the gluten results in a more chaotic structure. It's a matter of how you knead, not just how much. Kneading/mixing too little results in a dense crumb, but so does inadequate fermentation, and so does rough dough handling.

Higher hydration will result in bigger holes, all else being equal. But I can show you a very open crumb achieved with a 65% hydration sourdough baguette dough. Look here: Baguette crumb - 65% hydration dough

Now, how you mix, how well you have fermented the dough, how you handle it and how you bake all influence crumb structure. Learning to shape loaves with just the right amount of degassing is an important skill.

If you show us some photos of your breads' crumb, we might be able to provide more specific advice.

Happy baking!

David

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Thankyou for the wise words. Guess I am too focused on simple mathematical parameters.

I just got so confused because people still seemed to get the variation when using a machine and all...I mixed a poolish here this evening and will be baking tomorrow so I can provide some crumb shots.

Stay tuned!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I think it's true that most (if you will excuse the expression) artisan bakers do use machine mixing, but not all of them. Those that do, mix for a short time to get some gluten development and then do stretch and folds during bulk fermentation. You have been asking about crumb structure, but the S&F's do other good things as well. They help fermentation by redistributing gasses and equalizing temperature throughout the dough mass.

Note that gluten forms in the presence of water. That's all it takes. Kneading/mixing/S&F's increase gluten strength and, by folding strands of gluten over each other, promote chemical cross-linking bonds to form. This process is influenced by other components of the baking process as well - salt, acid, fat, sugar, bran, etc. 

It's not simple. You don't have to know all this stuff to bake good bread, but knowing it potentially gives you greater control and allows you to make exactly the kind of good bread you desire.

Looking forward to seeing your bread!

David

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

I might have been mixing up terms...

You are specifically talking about doing the letter folding of the dough a few times during bulk fermentation, right?

ANd not doing it a multiple of times BEFORE that, as a way of kneading..


Might as well pick up stuff to try with my bread here later today ;)

 

Xenophon's picture
Xenophon

Read the above, best and only explanation you could get.  Don't lose hope, to a large extent it's a learning process and experience, you should have seen the first loaves that came out my oven ;-)

shopkins1994's picture
shopkins1994

Not to hijack the thread... but Dmsnyder the baguette instructions you posted a link to state "4 sets of 30 strokes at 30 min. intervals." what is 30 strokes? When I fold I do the "fold four sides" fold. 

Thanks,

Sam

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The technique I use is illustrated in this video that Mark Sinclair made some time ago:

NoKnead.html

Note that you don't need to do even the initial mix in a machine if you don't want to.

I hope that clarifies things. Hmmmm ... actually, it's on topic.

David

shopkins1994's picture
shopkins1994

Wow, thank you for that video. I am going to try that out. I have been baking 2-3 loaves a day practicing bread making.

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

It is at least something I feel clarifies a few things on the subject :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

another one from the archives...

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/48431#comment-48431

I think the secret lies in knowing when your dough is ready to trap gas and then letting the yeast in the dough do the job of making those bubbles.   There has to be enough gluten development and there has to be enough yeast activity to fill the gas chambers full of gas.  

Final proof too early in gas development and you get a tighter crumb, combine with too low yeast activity perhaps big gas bubbles in the middle.   Final proof too late, the gas seaps out and the dough may rise too little or collapse.  

I have to get my handling done at the right time to have enough time to inflate the dough.  Harder to nail down to a specific time in a home kitchen where the temp & humidity variables change on a daily basis.  Watch the dough!  Use a clock only as a guide to estimate the rise time.  It can change from day to day by a few minutes or longer. 

shopkins1994's picture
shopkins1994

You can try Biga. It makes big holes. This makes two loaves:

For the Biga:

800 grams flour, 544 grams of 80 degree water, 3/16 INSTANT (not active or rapid) yeast.

Add the flour to a bowl. In a separate, tiny bowl, add the yeast and a few tablespoons of water. Wait a few minutes then swirl with your finger to dissolve the yeast (since this is a dry pre-ferment you have to dissolve the yeast). dump the yeast into the bowl with the flour. Pour the rest of the water into the flour and mix with your hands. Cover and set aside for 12-14 hours. 

For the dough:

All of the Biga, 200 grams of all-purpose flour, 22 grams of salt, and 1/2 tsp of INSTANT yeast, 206 grams of 105 degree water. Mix every except the bigs together and then add the biga and mix again. Fold at 10 minutes, 40 minutes, 1:10 hours. When triple in size (2.5-3 hours after you first mixed), divide and place into two baskets. Let rise an hour and then bake in a preheat covered dutch oven at 475 degrees for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake for 20-30 minutes or until medium brown.

You should also check our poolish. It is like a Biga but with more water. It makes big holes too.

Sam

 

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Is a biga the same as a poolish?

I usually go by this recipe when I try to get big holes: http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=101

shopkins1994's picture
shopkins1994

No, they are not the same. A Poolish is by far wetter. 

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

So I baked my bread..

I followed this recipe:

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

Used AA flour with 10% protein, mixed in machine untill everything was well combined, then I did a few stretch and folds to stretch the gluten along the doughball (At least that is what I imagine).

In oiled plastic box, stretch and fold like a letter after first and second hour.

After third hour, stretch and fold and transfer to baking paper in a tray with sides so it could rise without spreading.

35-40 minutes proofing at approximately 84F (on top of preheating oven under cover).

Baked in clay pot (Römertopf) for 30 min at 275C/530F, cooled on rack for half an hour, and sliced.

This result is actually better than usual, but still quite far from the biiig pretty holes.

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Where is the edit button? :S Forgot to mention that I used the baking paper to transfer the bread, so it didn't deflate too much just before baking.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I believe the edit button goes away after someone adds a comment. That's a feature of the software meant to keep conversations honest.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

if you want to inflate the existing bubbles more, let it proof a tiny bit longer.  But I think your are in the ball park now and this crumb is looking good.  

Some times you have to poke very large bubbles on the outside just under the crust before baking.  Personal choice.

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

I actually never had those before, and was just happy to have SOME big holes SOMEWHERE :)

shopkins1994's picture
shopkins1994

BTW, I get big holes all the time. It seems I can't get small holes. I let my bread raise to triple in size before I put it in a basket to proof. Maybe that is how?

Sam

 

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Triple?? That is interesting.. I have a feeling it mostly comes down to raising and the last handling, I am going to try your suggestion tonight, or at least let it rise a bit extra. Thankyou.

Buster1948's picture
Buster1948

Why do people want big holes -- or any holes, for that matter -- in their bread? The Depression was still going on at our house in 1965, so I have eaten all the air I could ever want, and I've never believed that the old streak-of-gravy-across-the-new-silk-tie trick was a smart way to meet new women. There must be some good reason to want holes, other than such as might appeal to the spiritual descendants of Lady Astor. Otherwise, so many of you would not be trying to create holes. Would someone please educate me on this? Thanks.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

under the peanut butter?   Makes for a lighter bite?   How about it doesn't look like so many carbohydrates?  Or when toasted it works like sandpaper catching roasted garlic on the hole edges?  Caviar looks so cute in the little holes, no?They're good at sopping up sauce and soups?

Buster1948's picture
Buster1948

Now, I understand perfectly. One must simply have faith that, if one makes holes, people will find ways for the holes to be useful or pleasing. For example, Dr. Scholls could start a line of artisan, foot long, multiple-corn pads!