The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cold autolyse vs warm autolyse

stephaniedan's picture
stephaniedan

Cold autolyse vs warm autolyse

I was wondering if anyone has any insight into what gives better results in terms of dough elasticity and extensibility, oven spring, crumb and flavour (if there is any):

 

1) Combining water and flour and doing a cold autolyse in the fridge > 6 hours

2) Combining water and flour and doing a room temperature autolyse < 6 hours

 

In both cases we would add the salt after the autolyse period. 

 

 

RoundhayBaker's picture
RoundhayBaker

Prof. Calvel-the inventor of autolysis-carried out scores of tests and said that no more than 20-30 minutes was required for white or wholemeal bread. Either way, hot or cold, your dough will certainly have benefited from autolysis if you leave it for six hours. However, I do a lot of high hydration wholemeal sourdoughs and have never noticed any major boost if a dough's left for longer than 30 minutes. Many of the improvements you are looking for benefit more from close attention to the ripeness of the levain, use of soakers, how you approach kneading (or not), shaping technique, getting the proofing right and so on. Autolysis plays its part, but it's not central, just one part of the jigsaw. 

I'm curious about one thing. Why chill your dough at this stage? Cold retardation is all about managing fermentation, sourness intensity, and flavour once yeast and lactobacilli are introduced and get to work: stages that happen after autolysis. If your dough is refrigerated before you mix you're facing all sorts of temperature problems and immense difficulty getting your dough to a temperature where the yeast will work happily. Or am I missing something here?

stephaniedan's picture
stephaniedan

You're right as far as my knowledge goes . 

It's just that I have seen a few cold autolyse methods floating around in addition to Chad Robertsons extended autolyse where he calls  for it to be done overnight at room temperature (Tartine3) . I was wondering if there was a reason for this or whether it was more of a schedule matter.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

in bread making is an old one.  Professor Calvel was reading a French bread baking book published in 1490 when he came across the process of autolyse.  This process was older than that of course but what the professor did was give it the name autolyse.  Being a chemist, the process reminded him of the process in chemistry called autolysis - even though that process isn't really what is going on with autolyse.

Since enzymatic chemical actions (including amylase and protease) in flour, once it gets hydrated, doubles with every 18 F increase in temperature, what is going on in room temperature and retarded dough during autolyse is quite different. 

We have learned much since the days of professor Calvel and now know that whole grain breads can handle and benefit greatly from a much longer autolyse period - if only to soften the bran.  Rye is a different kind if beast of course.

Some folks make great whole wheat breads with a very long autolyse of 8 hours or more in a cool kitchen overnight.  If kept in the fridge, 48 hours of autolyse, no salt & no leaven, is no problem.  You can keep white pizza dough in the fridge for several days and gets better flavor and extensibility because fermentation and enzymatic actions are very, very slow at 38 F.  You can even keep shaped whole rye dough in the fridge overnight because the cold nearly stops the amylase action that ruins the dough structure in rye breads if left out too long at room temperature before baking.

It pays to remember that times are relative to temperature in bread baking.

Happy Autolysing.

stephaniedan's picture
stephaniedan

Thank you! So what i can understand from what you are saying that there is actually a benefit to autolyse for longer in terms of positive enzymatic action. We just don't want to reach a point where the protease breaks down the gluten completely? 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

extensible / stretchy.  Protease gives you the extensible by breaking the elastic protein bonds of some of the gluten. Amylase give the wee beasties food to eat and residual sugars make the dough sweet and brown better.  It is pretty hard to turn a white dough into goo through too much protease action since most of the protease is in the bran and why malt is added back into white flours.  I like to autolyse white flour for an hour which seems to give me the dough structure and browning I am looking for.

Whole grain breads, non rye, I like to autolyse for 2-3 hours.   I sift out the bran from the whole grains and feed that to the SD starter to make the levain over 12 hours on the counter and then retard the levain for 24-48 hours when I can.  Getting the bran wettest the longest and subject ot the acid of the SD for as long as possible softens it so it doesn't cut gluten strands as much.  So the 2 hour autolyse if really for the high extraction non bran portions of the whole grains.  This process gives me the sour, crust and crumb I want in a whole grain bread.   

Happy baking

RoundhayBaker's picture
RoundhayBaker

...stage. Using time to improving flavour and extensibility is not unique to autolysis and I'd rather do it during fermentation. I've just baked two batches that cold fermented for four days. Fantastic flavour and crumb. However, I'll repeat that I've never seen an improvement because of autolysis in white bread beyond 30 minutes. If you're not fermenting it, after a while, the flour will have absorbed all the water it can. And I'll concede that of course high percentage wholemeals and grain-rich breads benefit from longer autolysis. As you hint, also the longer the better with high percentage rye formulae.