The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

questions: punching dough, letting it rest and scoring

Janna3921's picture

questions: punching dough, letting it rest and scoring

I read in some of the books I have and on different sites of how you should punch the dough down after it has risen.  Some, however, say to handle the dough gently; to push down to deflate it, don't punch it.  Opinions of does it matter how it is done?

Other question, some books and sites don't mention resting the dough.  You remove it from the first rise, and some state to cover it and let it rest, then after 10-20 can divide the loaf, if you are making enough for two loaves, and do the shaping to fit into the baking pan, cover and set aside for the second rise (my cast iron loaf pan arrived yesterday, Yeah!, going to try it out tomorrow).

Last question.  More curiosity than question; I have read mainly the two books I bought that I see as the most knowledgeable, Baker's Apprentice and the King Arthur cookbook and they both mention scoring the dough.  Other sites mention also scoring it.  But some general books that I have that were given to me that have bread recipes don't mention either resting and/or scoring bread, even though my "professional" books do.

One has a recipe for old fashioned bread and doesn't mention resting or scoring, which had me going huh?  To me, those are should be done if you want a great loaf of bread.   

AndyPanda's picture

Others can give you better answer.  But in my experience ... punching down (degassing) is to pop the large bubbles so you don't get big holes in the bread - and I think it is also to redistribute the yeast evenly throughout the dough.    I make sandwiches and I like a soft and airy loaf but I like the bubbles to be even and regular in size - so punching down to pop the large bubbles and then carefully shaping without adding any air bubbles would give me a nice, even crumb without any large holes.  (this was me using commercial yeast and making sandwich loaves)

More recently, I've started working with sourdough.  All the artisan sourdough pictures I look at seem to feature (and be very proud of) the large holes and open crumb structure.  And most of those methods seem to utilize gently stretching the dough without tearing it and trying to keep the gas bubbles in the dough (though they will pop any large bubbles deliberately).   

So these days, I do the gentle stretching and try to preserve the small gas bubbles - I'm very careful to not fold in any air bubbles.  And I get a crumb that is open with lots of small bubbles and a few medium bubbles and very few large bubbles.  

I think with a commercial yeast and a fast rise you may be more prone to getting large bubbles if you don't punch it down and degas it --- it may not be as important when doing a long, retarded rise at cooler temps.


tgrayson's picture

Punching down is mostly a figure of speech; I wouldn't literally push a fist into a ball of dough. The more general term is "deflate" and the degree of aggressiveness with which you do this depends on the desired crumb. Some white sandwich recipes recommend rolling the dough flat with a rolling pin, which will ensure a very tight crumb. If you want a more open crumb, you should be less through about squeezing out all the bubbles.

Resting the dough is something you do when's not an end in itself. If you have a very elastic dough and your final shape is very different from the shape it has during bulk ferment, you probably have to rest it before you'll be able to shape it properly. If you don't have to, then don't.

Scoring isn't necessary to get a great loaf of bread, but it's attractive and can improve the ovenspring a bit, unless the dough is very wet.