The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mixing water and flour, and not getting lumps

MBaadsgaard's picture

Mixing water and flour, and not getting lumps

This seems like almost a silly question, but how do you mix flour and water?

Starting a bread with taking water, and then mixing in flour for autolyse, I always end up with lumps of flour that I can't get rid of.

I usually use my hands, but I also tried a whisk, which is really a mess. Also tried the dough machine, but that kneads the dough too much.

So how do you mix the flour in to avoid lumps?

RobynNZ's picture

So that you don't end out with lumps, start with flour first, put it in a bowl and make a well in the centre (that means make a hole, by moving the flour up around the sides of the bowl). Add the liquid, start blending in the flour around the edge of liquid, gradually drawing in more flour. (Have you seen how Italian nonnas make pasta?).

Prior to autolyse you really only need to get all the flour wet, you don't need to start mixing.

After autolyse if you do find lumps there is a technique you can use called frissage, use the heel of your hand to squash any lumps. Take a look at this video with Julia Child and Danielle Forestier. They are making baguettes and of course working much more with the dough than you need to for the bread you are making (800~850 times!!!). But the initial mix and the frissage is useful to see.

MBaadsgaard's picture

I tried the well, with 2/3 of the flour, then mixing in the rest, did it all in a bowl, worked perfectly :) Found 2 lumps that I just broke with my fingers. Funny though, for some reason I was really under the impression that you always put flour to water, but don't know why.

Heh, Frissage is actually how I've been mixing 60-70% doughs till now, but never knew a word for it :)

And yea, my problem was that I did not want to knead the bread, because then I would ruin all the pretty larger holes in it, but that I got around neatly now, thankyou!

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I don't think I would have ever considered mixing the flour and water on the countertop instead of a bowl. And the smearing the mixture with the heel if the palm is something I never saw. 

So what does this do to the bread? I have been making high hydration breads and just mix with a dough wisk until thick and then work it with my hands. I suppose there could be lumpa but I never get a pocket of flour in the finished loaf.  Do lumps make denser bread or is it just the pocket of flour in the finished loaf we are trying to avoid?


MBaadsgaard's picture

my problem was that now and then I would have a dense area in the bread. Not pure flour, but with microscopic holes.

Also, I love the feeling of a smooth dough, and small hard "kernels" really ruin that ;)

The Frissage is just a sticky way to knead bread. I do high hydration for the big airpockets which you will lose if you do that, but it works well if it's not push and fold or stretch and fold.

I don't think it has any advantage to a machine though...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I could ever mix flour and water and not have lumps getting instant blending was when I used snow as water with cold flour.  They blended so well!  (both water and flour were solids)  Flour covered snow flakes.  

Then the only thing left to do is let the crumbs warm up so gluten can form.  Mind bending.

MBaadsgaard's picture

Well I guess a lump or two is ok then ;)

davidg618's picture

Add only enough water to the flour to form a paste whisking while adding the water. When the paste is smooth, slowly whisk in the remaining water. I use this method mostly when making cakes to prevent lumps.

David G


MBaadsgaard's picture

Yea, partial adding, and water to flour seems to do the trick :)