The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

History of Dough Folding

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

History of Dough Folding

I'm curious as to when this technique was developed, and how long it took to become widely known - at least among the bread baking world.  Any ideas?

Floydm's picture
Floydm

My sense from reading Good Bread is Back and other books on baking history is that folding and low/no kneading was the way it was done for years prior to mechanization. Following World War II, when people had eaten heavy, sub-par bread out of necessity, machine-mixed, light fluffy loaves seemed like a godsend (even if they were largely flavorless). Bakers who cut their teeth in kitchens where mixers were a given only recently discovered what the trade off was.

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

So I had it backwards!  I always pictured old-time bakers kneading away.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Imaging trying to *really* knead 50 to 100 pounds of dough at a time by hand. Every day, perhaps multiple batches a day if you are a baker in a busy neighborhood. Not easy at all.

Here is what you'd have had for a mixer 150 years ago.

That and a big paddle.

So folding and autolyse and all these slow rise things weren't a luxury until very recently, they were a necessity. The same with dried yeast too: wild yeast was your only option. So it is understandable why bakers would have been blissed out to have dried yeast and machines to mix to make baking so much simpler and their results so much more consistent. Only the curmudgeon would have complained about the lack of taste and stood in the way of "progess."

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

LOL!  A curmudgeon indeed.  I have been wracking my brain trying to remember how my Grandmother, born in 1901, made bread.  There was a standmixer in the house, but while adequate for cakes, it couldn't have handled bread dough. While I can picture the bread dough rising in the pans, and cinnamon rolls rolled out for the butter, cinnamon and sugar I have no memories of her initial dough development. Besides baking for a large family almost from the day she was born; once widowed, she baked for a hotel with a very good dining room.  She taught me to bake desserts, but I wasn't interested in bread then.

Is there a particular name for the bread bin in your picture? 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I've always seem the term "dough trough" used for them.

goetter's picture
goetter

"Cough if your dough trough is tough enough."

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody.  Here's to no leftovers!

harrygermany's picture
harrygermany

Hello,

there is one thing that doesn't make sense to me: the distinction between kneading and folding.

In my point of view both is very similar, not to say almost the same.

With both techniques you stretch the dough and merge it again.
With kneading in many little steps, with folding in a few big steps.
With both you include air into the dough.

There are some doughs that I cannot stretch and fold because of missing gluten (rye doughs). Those doughs I knead.
There are also doughs that I cannot knead because they are too wet and soft (hydration 80% or more). Those doughs I stretch and fold.

Stretching and folding the right dough (much gluten, wet) often enough makes big bubbles in your bread (you even can't speak of porosity any longer). You can make your pure wheat bread one big bubble with some crust around it if you like.

Kneading shortens the dough, brings uniform porosity with small to medium sized pores.

So the results are different, but the technique is more or less the same - including air into the dough.

I don't see no reason why old-time bakers shouldn't have used both techniques.

Harry


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KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

One of the main differences is that kneading (at least by hand) involves a lot more time and effort. This may not make a difference to a perfectly healthy person, but is a major factor for others.

I suspect that kneading also oxidizes the dough a lot more than folding, but I don't know how this affects the bread 

gt's picture
gt

In 1999 when the National Baking Center was here in Minneapolis I took a two day sourdough class and they used the folding system then. They called it tuck and fold but it was the same thing. I remember asking them how to keep my dought from getting so slack during primary fermemtation and they said to give it a couple of tuck and folds along the way. After the class I forgot about it and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realized how much good it does and now I always use it.

gt