The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Folding, windowpaning and dough strength

  • Pin It
staff of life's picture
staff of life

Folding, windowpaning and dough strength

Are we supposed to assume that when a dough reaches the point that it windowpanes, the dough has enough strength?  I let my white sourdough reach just that point in the mixer the other day, and did not fold it.  It seemed a bit slack to me, but I was experimenting.  The result was a slack dough that spread quite a bit in the oven. (I did the final proof in a banneton.)  I have also taken that same formula and given it folds to the point that in the oven, it bursts because it's too strong.  How do we assess when I dough has hit that magic point of being strong enough but not too strong?

SOL

TRK's picture
TRK

I think the only way to know is to experiment until you can feel it.  I don't bother with the windowpane test.  I have never found it to be very helpful.  I have stopped using my mixer too.  I mix the dough, then do folds on 30 minute intervals until the dough reaches the right consistency (usually 3 folds).  Then I let it finish proofing, shape and bake.  I pretty much ignore rising times in recipes, except as approximations, and bake by feel.  It sounds like you already know what your dough should feel like-you thought it was slack and it was.  Use the Force, Luke...

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

The San Francisco Baking Institute's newsletters are an amazing, and free, resource.

They are available at http://www.sfbi.com/newsletter.html

In the  Fall, 2004 issue there is a long article by Didier Rosada on evaluating dough strength.   He also talks about how to get there, how to handle weak and strong doughs, and much, much more.

A strongly suggested read!

Mike

 

TRK's picture
TRK

That is a great resource.  Now I have more bread-related reading to do...

 

I am the Tim who emailed you about bread and Farmer's Markets, BTW.  Thank you for your response.   

staff of life's picture
staff of life

I had read that little bit about dough strength...I think it's time to re-read it.  I made several loaves of roasted garlic boule again today, and got it just to that magical point where it rises fantastically in the oven; no bursting or flattening out.  I was very conscious this time about assessing dough strength before adding a fold.  I had been making some very slack doughs, then to remedy it, I began adding folds, and then it got to the point where I was making the dough too strong... The more I do this, the more I appreciate the bakers who make it seem so easy to turn out loaves today that are identical to yesterday's.  So many variables!  That's what makes it exciting and exasperating!

SOL