The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Chasing thin, crispy, not thick/tough dough

Jim Burgin's picture
Jim Burgin

Chasing thin, crispy, not thick/tough dough

For a year, I have been the route with the best books, internet sites, conversations with authorities (King Arthur); have altered everything you can name (hydration, baking temperature, Pizza store and Lodge pot, spraying and not, baking time, etc. etc. etc.  AND, STILL produce thick, chewy (trip to the dentist) crust!  After trying all the best books/methods, I am now finally going simple (Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day).  Does anyone know what REALLY works for thin, crispy crust???  Thanks much.  Jim Burgin 

mariana's picture
mariana

Yes, I know. 

for thin, crispy crust you need to develop gluten in your dough, so that it stretches into a really thin film.

Then the crust will be thin and crispy. If your dough is not kneaded enough, it stretches only into thick layers of film. They bake into thick and leathery, chewy and hard crust. 

When you examine your dough for readiness, see if it is shiny and  how it stretches. Make it into a ball and see if it has bubbles all over its surface. And see if these bubbles have transparent skins. Then it is a sufficiently developed (kneaded) dough and you will be happy with the crust it gives. 

If, after kneading and last punch down of your dough, before shaping it into a loaf, it stretches only into thick layers, like that,

 then it's gluten is only minimally developed and will give you a  thick and tough crust. 

This sort of initial gluten development is equivalent to 600-800 turns of dough when kneading by hand (25 min of kneading) and is typical for the baguettes. 

Such dough will form thick large bubbles over its surface, if made into a ball

Intermediate level of gluten development is achieved when we give dough 900-1200 turns when kneading/punchind it down/stretching+folding. It stretches much thinner into a more transparent film and gives thinner, crispier, easy on the teeth crust. 

When dough with intermediate level of gluten development is made into a ball, we see medium size bubbles with semi-transparent skin forming over its surface. When such dough is baked, its crust will be shatteringly crisp, thin, like that of a millefeuille, pastry-like when you bite it. 

Finally, the maximum level of gluten development, fully developed gluten is when you give dough about 1800-2000 turns when kneading it.  The dough will look shiny in the mixer/food processor

Well developed gluten when kneading in bread machine will also look like a shiny dough

It stretches very thinly

And gives a ball with frequent small, fully transparent bubbles all over its surface. 

 And it will bake into a crust so thin and delicate, you'll be able to eat it will your lips. 

So, that is the secret of thin and crispy crust. Develop your dough, knead it when you mix your dough ingredients, then knead it more when you punch it down, until it is supple, shiny and makes a ball with average-sized or small blisters all over and stretches into a very thin transparent film. This is a well developed dough that will give you thin crust, crispy and shattering, easy on your teeth, similar to biting a French pastry, not a leather boot. 

mariana

Jim Burgin's picture
Jim Burgin

Thanks SO much Mariana,  I will try this!

Follow Up Question:  About how long, at what speed in a Kitchen Aid mixer with dough hook would equal each of the levels of kneading you prescribe?

Happy New Year!   Jim

mariana's picture
mariana

Jim, I haven't owned KA in a long, LONG time. When I had one, I was simply kneading until the dough would look like that, in the mixer: visibly shiny and blistery, with multiple visible bubbles under the skin.

 This is a well kneaded dough made from bread flour. Its bubbles are not due to fermentation. They are air under the thinly stretched layers of dough\gluten, trapped air due to kneading only. 

Yesterday I watched someone knead their dough in KA, medium sized KA model, and they achieved initial gluten development after 9 min of mixing: 4 min on 1st speed to blend ingredients to homogeneity, then 4 min on 2nd speed to knead, and then 1 min on high speed to beat air into dough. Total of 9 min to achieve an equivalent of 450-600 dough turns.

They used organic all purpose flour, 360 brand (from The Whole Foods store). The total weight of dough in the mixer was 47oz (about 3 lbs of dough kneaded in a 5 qt mixer bowl). 1/3 of that dough was sourdough starter, meaning that 1/3 of dough already had its gluten developed and that is why the total mixing time was rather brief. 

So, I would assume you would have to knead similar amounts of dough and develop your gluten in KA in stages. First, achieve the initial level as in the example above, by kneading for 9-12 min total on different speeds. Look for a shiny surface of the dough and bubbles under it.

Then, in the middle of the fermentation, repeat the same kneading sequence, to achieve a better developed gluten - medium level of gluten development or intensive gluten development.  If you want your breads have an open crumb, with large open pores, French artisan or rustic style,

 The top slice is from a loaf of French rustic bread baked from straight dough. The bottom slice is from French artisan bread baked from dough made with preferment. Illustration from R. Calvel, Taste of Bread. 

...then stretch the well kneaded dough on the table and fold it on itself several times: to trap large bubbles of air inside. Complete fermentation and shape dough into loaves or buns, etc. 

Happy New Year, Jim!

mariana

 

 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

and helpful illustration.  Thank you for sharing.

Yippee

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

So now you’ve got me thinking. I want to learn by experience the affects of kneading dough to the various gluten development you mentioned. I never knew that dough could be developed to that degree. - It’s great to be retired. I have the time to obsessively follow my interest :-)

I’m thinking I would learn best by kneading to the various stages pictured in your reply. In the past I’ve been cautious not to over knead or introduce too much oxidation. (I read a lot of Reinhart). But for certain breads thin crisp crust would be outstanding.  

I’ve been thinking about purposely over kneading to experience the feel, consistency, and look for myself. I think it’s high time I saw for myself. I know it is said, “blessed are those who believe without seeing”. But in this case I’d like to see for myself ;-)

If there are any suggestions how I can better run this test, please let me know.

Should I test with AP Flour? I have KA on hand. How would I best conduct this test? I use an Ankarsrum and have the option of scraper and roller or dough hook.

Thanks, Dan

”inquiring minds want to know”

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Dan!

Gluten and stages of gluten development are sometimes poorly understood by a home baker. Not everyone reads textbooks for bakers for they are expensive and sort of difficult to understand. One textbook that explains and illustrates gluten development in dough is Michael Suas, Advanced Bread and Pastry. See section Developing the dough, pp 60--72. 

For your home test of different flours and methods of gluten development all you need is a cup of flour and 2 min of your time. In that 2 minutes a food processor or a kneading blender (Vitamix, Blendtek, etc) will take a piece of dough size of an orange through all stages of gluten development - from none at all to a complete destruction of gluten. It is because the food processor with its fast spinning metal blade gives dough 800-1000 turns per minute. And it doesn't oxidize it all that time (the blade goes through the dough in a enclosed environment)! So in about 30-45 sec you obtain the initial dough development, and in 1 min-1.5 min - medium gluten development. In 2-3 min full gluten development and gluten breakdown. 

Pretty much the same can be done in Ankarsrum with a larger piece of dough. You would have to sacrifice about a pound of flour for such an experiment I guess and it would take about 30-60 min of intense mixing on high speed to see all stages of gluten development and breakdown for an average bread flour with about 11-12% protein. Do NOT use KA mixer for that test. It will overheat and you will lose the mixer. It is not designed for long kneading times - for medium and intense gluten development, let alone for the gluten breakdown : )

Normally, we knead only to the initial gluten development when we combine water and flour into a piece of dough. The further stages of gluten development happen later on as the dough ferments. Strong flours require more kneading, there is simply more gluten in them and they have strong gluten, their tough gluten resists development

Suggestions for running the test. 

1)  First, learn what gluten is. 

Place a cup of flour into a plate. Pour some water on top. See how water doesn't seep through the flour. It stays separate. Why? Because water immediately activates gluten formation on the surface of the flour and that rubber substance (gluten) is impermeable and doesn't let water seep through the flour particles. 

This water will stay in the well in the flour indefinitely! A layer of gluten under it is truly impermeable. And that impermeability is a blessing for us. Later, inside bread dough, layers of gluten won't let water or vapor pass through and the dough inflates as it bakes. We have open pores in our baked goods precisely because gluten is impermeable. 

2) Blend water and flour a little with your fingers. You will obtain a rough mass which is not not like water and not like dry particles. And it doesn't flow like water or dry flour. It is not homogeneous yet . It is bumpy, not smooth. To blend water with flour to homogeneity, you would have to give it at least 300 turns. 

There is no stretchiness in it at all. You cannot stretch it into a film

3) Try shaping this mass. See that it behaves like clay. 

It is not stretchy at all. Gluten is not developed at all. If you pull it apart, it breaks. 

4) Start mixing that piece of dough in a food processor. The first 300 turns would be blending flour and water to homogeneity - moistening the flour particles throughout. 

See how in the first 10 sec there is graininess in the mass. It breaks apart into clumps.

Then there is a pick-up phase. They stick together into a single mass. 

See that there is no gluten development. It is not really stretchy. 

Continue mixing dough in the food processor. See how you arrive to the clean-up phase of mixing. When the dough cleans the walls of the bowl. It stretches, but very little. It gives you a thick film with holes. 

So, this is usually where most Rustic methods or some popular methods 'for beginners' stop. They never develop gluten: see Artisan bread in 5 min a day, or No-knead dough as examples. The dough is barely blended and it is left to fully hydrate for an entire day with a little stretch given to it by yeast fermentation and then shaping. In the end you have an extremely rough crumb and crust and a fast staling bread: 

From this moment on you will begin to see stages of gluten development. Continue mixing. 

The first stage - initial gluten development (a total of 450-600 turns) 

Continue mixing. See the intermediate and complete gluten development. I won't insert their images here again. See in the above commentary. Notice how moist and shiny, how well hydrated the dough particles have become!  The surface of the well kneaded dough is shiny, moist, but not sticky at all. 

This is it. A fully kneaded piece of dough. Fully developed gluten.

This shininess is usually needed 

1) When you knead and bake in a bread machine, because there is a very short fermentation time in the machine program, so the dough is well developed right away, in the beginning of the process.

2) When you do your last punch down, the last kneading of the sandwich bread dough, where you seek very tender crust and crumb and a very good keeping quality of bread - no staling for 2-3 days, up to a week or longer if kept in a plastic bag. There gluten must be well developed by the end of the fermentation. 

From that moment on you can continue to knead and visually observe the stages of gluten breakdown. You can still repair it in the initial stages of breakdown. Add a little salt to dough and it will repair itself! 

The first sign of gluten breakdown is its stickiness. The dough no longer cleans up the bowl as it is being kneaded. It sticks to the walls of the bowl. 

And it becomes very stretchy. Very. 

Eventually, as you continue to apply more energy to dough, give it more turns, it will loose all springinesses, all elasticity and will no longer resist pulling it into a thread or a film. It will just hang passively there. 

It will stick to everything, to the walls of the mixer and to the fingers. It feels like glue and it is difficult to clean. 

The breakdown of gluten will happen with time as well. When your dough sits for too long in refrigerator, or even if it ferments for too long at room temp, you will see how it begins to release water. Gluten is partially destroyed and is no longer there to bind water and water will be pooling under the piece of dough in the bowl. The dough becomes soupy. 

You can test any flour, Dan. Take any flour through that process: pastry flour (for nice pastry like in Napoleons and croissants, you need good gluten development), APF, Bread flours of various strengths. White flour and Whole grain flour, Wheat flour and Spelt flour, etc.

They will invariably go through the stages as you knead them, it is a universal process, but the quality of gluten and the amount of gluten each flour forms is different and you will learn to adapt to each flour as you develop your dough to achieve the desired tenderness of crumb and crust or their desired rustic, chewy, rubbery character, the desired keeping qualities etc.

My final remark is about caring "not to over knead or introduce too much oxidation". This is applicable only to the very tender and gentle European flours used for the baguette dough. They contain very little protein of special 'tender' quality (9-10% protein) and give tender crust and crumb with minimal gluten development. 

All north American flours should be kneaded at least to the medium gluten development or the bread eaters will break their teeth and cut their lips with their crusts - too tough and strong (too much gluten left undeveloped). 

best wishes

mariana

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Hi, Mariana: Could you advise how one can distinguish dough stickiness caused by over hydrating (too much water/milk/oil/egg/mash potatoes etc) from gluten breakdown?  What's the best way to judge when to stop adding the above ingredients even though the paddles still clear the dough, then after resting, the dough turns quite slack and difficult to shape?  (I use Zojirushi bread machine to develop the dough to the intermediate stage before adding the above ingredients in increments.)  Thanks again for taking the time to share the valuable information with us.  Yippee

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Yippee, 

I also knead in Zojirushi! : ) They are my favorite bread machines. Delonghi-Kenwood is the second best. 

I don't really understand the question, because I assume you already have the formula for the bread dough. So, having kneaded your lean dough, you are ready to add the enriching ingredients, the precise amounts of them, and simply add them. As per bread formula. 

Gluten breakdown due to over-mixing or overheating feels like glue on your skin. It is not just a slack or watery batch of dough, it is a piece of dough that looks  and feels unwell, so to speak : )  If you can rinse it off your finger by simply placing your hand under running water, it ain't gluten breakdown. 

And then even the gluten breakdown in its initial stages is very easy to repair by adding a pinch of salt to the dough. It will make it stronger just like that. La voilà!

Slack dough, on the other hand, is fortified by the usual means: by chilling it, by stretch'n'folding it (maybe refrigerate it for 30 min and give it a couple of turns - stretch'n'folds to strengthen it), by a bit of flour with vitamin C added, etc. 

If some particular flour is weaker than my usual bread flour or not as absorbing and I discover that during kneading, I will immediately fortify it by a spoon of dry gluten flour or white wheat bran (absorbs water, doesn't add color or taste). Prior to kneading, I fortify it by adding vitamin C and using strictly instant yeast (not ADY or compressed), I also would switch to hard water. The dough won't be as slack.

To avoid the issue of milk negatively affecting gluten strength, I use baker's milk, it's pretreated and will give you a 25-30% higher rise in volume, stronger gluten compared to the usual liquid milk. You can also pretreat liquid milk, but it takes about 30-40 min to do that. I prefer the quicker route of dry baker's milk. 

 https://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/bakers-special-dry-milk-16-oz

Also, I make sure that I add not just oil/egg to the lean and well kneaded portion, but some of the flour in the recipe with them. I.e. when I mix the lean batch and then knead it, I don't use all the flour in the recipe. I save some for the addition with the enriching ingredients, because they dilute the dough and are better added in form of the flour paste, not liquid. 

Water/milk are added to the well kneaded lean dough in a method of double hydration for super hi hydration breads, such as ciabatta, some pizzas and focaccia and fried breads. Here, the experience is your guide. Judge the dryness and water absorption quality of your flour by experience - how much is too much. 

The amount of flour to set aside for the enriching additions are as follows:

for each 10 g of added sugar, oil and eggs,

I set apart 7g, 10g and 14 g of flour correspondingly.

I would add that flour from the recipe to the kneaded dough along with enriching and slacking/dough liquefying ingredients: sugars, oils and eggs. 

best wishes, 

mariana

 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

  Sometimes I don't follow the procedures (as the instructions are for hand kneading) and do my own thing, that's why

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Thanks for the thorough reply. I am going to try the test with my Vitamix, since the test will complete so quickly. I’ll let everyone know my results. What is the hydration for the 1 cup of flour/food processor test?

I was able to read the pages 60 - 72 in the Advanced Bread and Pastry book online as a sample reading here. https://books.google.com/books/about/Advanced_Bread_and_Pastry.html?id=JM76vm5tH38C&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button

I expected the book to be technical and over my head, but in fact is was well layed out and clearly understandable. If I wanted to purchase a book similar to this one, which would you recommend? Would this book be your first choice for an intermediate baker? By the way; for any interested this book can be rented for 6 months for $18.50 or purchased in digital format for $45.

Mariana, I‘m curious. I imagine others that don’t know you are too. Are you a baking instructor. There’s no doubt, you’ve got some serious experience and bread related education. Your replies are so thorough and well documented. I feel like I’m in class. “Inquiring minds want to know”

Dan

mariana's picture
mariana

Dan, 

how much water to add to your flour depends on how dry or moist your flour is and what sort of dough you want to knead. You can knead a piece of stiff dough or a piece of very slack dough. It doesn't matter. Gluten will be developed in both cases just as well. 

I don't really know about books for an intermediate level baker. I am mostly a beginner myself, Dan. For a beginner to intermediate baker,  great textbooks in English are Suas, George Rudolf, Schunemann. I consult them all the time. 

Suas and Didier: Advanced Bread and Pastry 

George Rudolf and Ken Sohm: The professional baking manual 4th edition

Schunemann and Treu: Baking The art and science. 

In French, it is this Gerald Biremont (Pratique en boulangerie) and  Conaissances de Base ().

There are great authors and textbooks in other languages as well. 

No, I am not a baking instuctor. I only wanted to extend Jim Burgin a helping hand, because I was where he is now (or was yesterday) not so long ago. 

best wishes, Dan

mariana

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

 

What a Lesson for Learning about Gluten! Anyone interested is visually learning about gluten would be well served to run this test. Words can't explain what you will see.

By-the-way - The test should run a total of 2 - 3 minutes. The first time I ran the processor for 45 seconds and then for 1 minute 15 seconds and lastly for 2 minutes. A total processing time of 4 minutes. Don't do that. The total processing time for the entire test should be from 2 - 3 minutes processing time.

I've never used a food processor for dough and I probably never will. Like the old timer says, " by golly it just ain't right". I miss the aesthetics of hand mixing and slow mixer kneading. BUT, IMO the food processor has shown me the light. Literally, you can see through the windowpane like never seen before. Once the gluten is developed to the max, it is super thin and strong. I'd best describe the feel and stretch similar to a very thin latex glove, but a little less elastic. No windowpane test that I've performed before came close to this.

A WORD OF CAUTION - This is a messy test. My first attempt was using 70% hydration. I used KA AP flour and it was a sloppy messy. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. It took me every bit of 20 minutes to clean up the processor. So, guess what I did. I re-ran the test. <tenacious, persistent - not super intelligent> I reduced the hydration to 62% and the test ran better.

I stopped at 2 minutes (total mix time) the this is what I got.

My first test @ 70% hydration ended up a completely obliterated dough. So I washed it in a strainer to see what would remain. Only bits of gluten.

 

I ran this test in order to learn more about the behavior of water mixed with flour. This test will change more about the way I think than it will about the way I bake. But, I'll bake smarter...

If seeing is believing, this test if for you.

Thanks Mariana,

Dan

mariana's picture
mariana

Dear Dan, 

your picture shows a well kneaded dough! May God bless you now and forever. You did it! Now you know : )

I am very glad that you run the experiment and shared your pictures with us. Thank you!

Not only can we clearly see in your photograph the gluten itself, we can see bubbles of air in between layers of gluten in that thin film of dough. This is very valuable for the newbies to see and to understand that kneading alone leads to increase in dough volume up to 10% just due to air trapped in the dough during mixing. And that air is necessary for the good crumb structure and consequently for the longer freshness (slow staling) of baked goods. 

Sifting flour prior to mixing (to aerate it) and thorough kneading is the first step in successful baking. Thank you for the visual demonstration of that, Dan. Thank you. 

mariana

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Didn’t notice the bubbles. Are these bubble in between 2 layers of gluten or are they traped between the counter and the gluten film?

I’m still trying to figure you out. You claim novice baking status, but your “lectures” are more like Albert Einstein. What is the scoop?

Please stay active on the forum. Your lessons are exceptional. 

Dan

Jim Burgin's picture
Jim Burgin

Thanks SO much Mariana.  Over a year of seeking an answer, no one ha suggested this.  I will try it!

Follow up question:  About how long, and at what speed in a Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook would equal the levels of hand kneading you prescribe.    

Happy New Year!   Jim

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

but don’t think it does a very good job and now prefer to autolyse, hand knead then stretch and fold and utilise time to develop the gluten.  what effect would an 2-3 hour autolyse have followed by hand kneading- time surely would be less? not sure I could do 25 minutes of kneading and this thread has me questioning how good my gluten development has been? I would love to achieve a thin shattering crust!

Leslie

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Leslie, 

autolysis is basically dough at rest.

If your flour has proteolytic enzymes, then there will be some breakdown of flour protein into amino acids and kneading after such rest will be easier, it will be easier to develop gluten faster. It that sense time doesn't develop gluten. It destroys gluten. When there is less gluten, it is easier to knead. : ) That is what R. Calvel discovered originally, when he dealt with a batch of too strong flour. He discovered that giving the tough to knead dough  several minutes or several hours of rest softens it enough and makes kneading easier.  He called it autolysis - self-destruction of dough protein. 

Otherwise, a simple rest of dough leads to more gluten in it. The gluten will be forming in dough with time For example 10 min after mixing flour and water you'd be able to wash 1 oz of gluten from 100g of flour. 2-3 hours later, you'll be able to wash about 1.2-1.5 oz of gluten from the same dough made from 100g of flour. More gluten has formed with time!  So in absence of proteolysis, more time means larger amount of gluten in dough, not more gluten development (i.e. there is no stretching of gluten into thinner and thinner films) . And that is why normally we knead dough not just once, but several times as it ferments (punch downs, stretch'n'folds, etc). To continue developing gluten, kneading the additional amount of gluten formed. 

Any mixer is better than no mixer. I see pictures of old Kenwood Chef mixer online and I don't see why it wouldn't develop gluten. It's a mixer. It kneads. For as long as it applies energy to the dough, it develops its gluten. The advice would be the same as for the medium size (non-professional model) of KA mixer, as I explained above.

Bread machines are superbly designed for kneading dough made from about 1 lb of flour. They are super well suited for that purpose. They develop gluten in a 1.5-2lb piece of wheat dough in 20-30 min of kneading, depending on the dough consistency and strength of flour. 

 

mariana

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

it gives me much to think about, it also makes a lot of sense.  will try some comparisons over next few weeks and see how it helps.

Leslie

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

I remember we discussed this awhile back. In the cocodrillo recipe, the gluten is incredibly developed...way more than most recipes call for.  Did you give it a try and how did it work?  I recall that commenters remarked on the crackly crust.

Jim Burgin's picture
Jim Burgin

Hi Bread Babies,

I have NOT tried the cocodrillo recipe.  May get back to it as the quest continues.  Best,

Jim Burgin

ninofiol's picture
ninofiol

Thank you for such an informative post. I'm also on a quest for a thin, shattering crust on my breads. It has been hit or miss, but this info should help!

pul's picture
pul

Hi Mariana, nice information, thanks.

Do you think then adding vital wheat gluten would help on this process?

 

 

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Peter, 

adding vital wheat gluten will help make the crust thicker and tougher : ) 

More gluten = more kneading. 

If your bread flour has only 9-10% protein, there is little gluten in such flour and you would have to knead less to develop gluten. 

If your bread flour has 11-12-13% protein (more gluten) you would have to knead much more, longer, in order to develop gluten .

Adding vital wheat gluten increases % of protein in your flour. You would have to knead more, longer, apply more energy to your dough to develop that additional gluten. 

mariana

pul's picture
pul

Thanks Mariana,

It is good to hear your opinion. My understanding was completely opposite to what you said. I always had the impression that adding vital wheat gluten would make it easier to develop gluten. Now you got me thinking....  :)

Peter

 

starvingviolist's picture
starvingviolist

It is also worth making sure you are using the highest heat possible, so that the loaf browns as quickly as possible before it starts to dry out, and maybe to try a little Dextrose powder, say 1% of the flour. This makes for a crispier crust without noticeably sweetening the loaf.

loydb's picture
loydb

Thanks Jim for starting this, and for Mariana doing such a fabulous job explaining things!

 

 

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

hope it survives as it wasn’t happy at the end! will check it tomorrow.  BUT an awesome experiment mariana!  Did as you suggested and took 1 cup of flour and water and mixed it to shaggy. then blitzed in the processor - this is hard on it I think! the end result was a dough which gave very thin window pane!! it held its shape when dumped on the bench too - the kind of swirls accidentally produced stayed there (a bit like merengue does) when I scooped it out onto the bench.   I have to rethink my mixing and folding techniqes so I get much much more strength!

thank you Jim for starting this thread, and mariana for such help clear advice...

Leslie

 

mariana's picture
mariana

Leslie, that is wonderful. Good for you!

I think that the food processor best suited for kneading is Cuisinart 4Qt model. I use it all the time and in 10 years of faithful service it hasn't betrayed me once. It is unbreakable. It successfully kneads dough from 1 lb of flour. If there is more dough, I simply break it into smaller pieces and knead each piece separately. Each takes a minute-minute and a half. It is very fast and convenient, really : ) 

The only precaution to take concerns not the machine, but the dough itself. The dough should be protected from overheating. I blend water and ice if I plan to knead in a food processor. Then by the end of kneading the dough has the perfect desired temperature, required by the recipe. 

Thank you for being so immediate and practical. Thanks for testing this method and seeing gluten being developed with your own eyes. It's awesome. 

Once you develop gluten, you can fold dough for as many times as it pleases you. Folds simply trap large bubbles of air inside layers of gluten, they create a very rustic looking open crumb many people like in their baguette, ciabatta or pizza slice. I fold only once or twice after kneading - to give dough strength, and I thoroughly squeeze out all bubbles, because I actually avoid big holes in crumb. I seek even, silky looking crumb in my loaves. 

mariana

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Hi, Mariana:

I usually knead the dough to the "complete" stage and assume the dough is strong at that point. Therefore, I rarely bother to fold after kneading. But is my assumption correct? Thank you.

Yippee

mariana's picture
mariana

Yippee, you truly are a gem. You touch upon some very important subjects in dough quality : ) 

Dough strength is a direct result of THREE factors: ingredient selection, mixing, and fermentation (mechanical dough manipulation during fermentation is in here too).

You mention mixing (kneading) and assume that once well kneaded, the dough is (sufficiently) strong. Yes and no. It usually depends on the kind of crumb and crust you are seeking and also on the final volume and the silhouette of your bread that you want to achieve and whether you bake it on hearth or in a pan, what kind of cuts or cracks you want to see on its surface and how you want them to open, etc. 

The same lean dough, equally well kneaded, will give me either even and fluffy crumb and the crust that stretches in a perfect roundness, doesn't crack or break during baking or a more textured slice with uneven pores and more rustic looking crust with breaks and cracks depending on that additional bit of strength.

For this loaf the dough was kneaded only, No further manipulation, no stretch'n'fold after kneading. No preshaping, no shaping. I simply dumped a piece of fermented dough into the pan and let it rise and baked it. This gives dough a very stretchy surface (not as strong a surface) so it doesn't break as it bakes and a very even soft crumb. 

Here's the same dough but a different loaf. After kneading I stretched the dough and folded it and tightened it into a ball. After fermentation I preshaped it and then shaped it. So it is bolder and more rustic looking. The crust is still crispy thin and easy on the teeth, but it has a different character, because the dough was stronger due to stretch'n'folds. 

Stretching, folding and tucking it into a tight ball also allows me to judge the level of gluten development. I cannot really judge the thinnes of the dough film when I stretch it. But the surface of the ball of dough tells me volumes; the number of blisters and how transparent and how large or how small they are tell me about gluten development and whether the dough is ready to give me a good loaf of bread or not. 

So yes, having given our piece of dough an honest kneading we might just stop at that. Or not. Further mechanical manipulation as it ferments might add more strength to it and help us achieve the perfect loaf : ) 

Here's what Michael Suas has to say about that (see the entire section on dough strength in his book on pp 106-110). 

mariana

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Wish I could give you a hug! Since I can't do that, more 

Thank you!

Yippee

GustavoSM's picture
GustavoSM

Learned a lot from your post

I would love to see an explanation like this about final proofing... 

mariana's picture
mariana

Gustavo, 

I haven't seen anyone being able to explain final proofing in words : ) Attempts to explain gluten development are often seen in the textbooks by mentioning kneading time or number of turns, or windowpaning, or blisters on dough appearing as you knead it, the increase in volume of the kneaded dough as compared to not-kneaded dough, dough surface appearance changing from dull to shiny, etc.

But final proof is like the final frontier. No one has gone there before us. : ) 

Joking aside, the best explanation I have seen so far is in two books written by scientists who record their observations with words and photos. One is in Bread Science by Emily Buehler, Ph,D.,2006. She has dedicated an entire chapter to proofing with lots of photos. Valuable for the beginners. Another very beautifully illustrated chapter on proofing and how proofing temp and proofing time affect shape, size and crumb texture of a bread slice is in Pyler/Gorton, 2009, Baking Science and Technology, volume 2, pp78-89. Valuable for the intermediate bakers. 

If you can get your hands on Modernist Bread encyclopedia, take a look at the index in volume 5 for everything they have written about proof, proofed dough, proofing process. They spent a lot of ink, literally several pounds of ink, on describing and illustrating proofing and everything that affects it in the first three giant volumes of that publication, 1000 pages of it. 

How much we need to proof unbaked items to achieve the perfect loaf after baking is mostly determined by our experience with the particular recipe. And it is truly a kinesthetic skill: squeezing the dough as you would squeeze ... I don't know... a pillow in a store? When we shop for a perfect pillow we handle it to see how hard it is, how soft and yielding, springy or not. And weighing that pillow in our hand, to see how light it feels compared to its volume. That is what we bakers do with our items, when we proof them and check'em for readiness to be baked. 

1) Pushing the surface of the dough with fingers in a pulsating motion, to see how it resists or not. Usually used for pan breads. We need a lot or resistance still left in the dough for dramatic opening of the cuts and practically no resistance for the smooth uncut surface without cracks.  

2) Squeezing it with fingers, between fingers, as you would squeeze a ball, same as 1) but a bit more sensory data is coming in through that squeeze, better assessment, used for hearth breads and buns. 

3) Picking up the item in hand, to see how fluffy it has become, how light it feels compared to the size of it. This is for hearth breads and buns. 

4) There are also methods of tracking the volume, when the shaped dough is supposed to 'double', 'triple' before it bakes, or tracking its volume as it reaches the edges of the bread pan or rises above it to 1 inch, 2 inches, etc. 

5) Rye breads are usually fully proofed, which means that we wait for the small holes to appear on the surface - the dough has reached the limit of fermentation tolerance, no longer retains gas and leaks gas through the holes. It is time to wash the surface to close the holes and to bake it. 

So, no, there is no way to cover that subject in one commentary, in one article, or in one book. Mostly because readiness for baking (proofing) is so versatile and so profoundly different for wheat dough and for the rye dough, and for the truly gluten free dough, for the hearth breads and for the pan breads, for different types of crusts and different types of crumb.

Proofing is usually explained for a single bread in its formula/method, it better cases, it is illustrated with photographs of the shaped items before and after proofing, and is learned from experience for each particular bread. 

Also, we don't need to know everything about proofing, because most of us bake a very limited variety of breads/buns for our family or for sales. It is easy to learn to proof those few daily breads that we do bake at home or at work to perfection. 

 

mariana

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Hi Mariana,

You are very well read on bread. Would you provide your top 10 bibliography? I don't necessarily mean with respect to recipe books, but baking knowledge and science, much like the books you have alluded to in your response above.

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi, 

it is a very difficult request to fulfill, for me at least. Let me try...

It terms of baking science, in my humble opinion, the good books with observations about dough and its rheology and microbiology are 

1) Pyler, Bread Science and Technology

2) Calvel, The Taste of Bread

3) Suas, Rosada, Advanced Bread and Pastry

4) Kulp, Lorenz, Handbook of Dough Fermentations

5) Banfield, Manna. A Comprehensive Treatise on Bread Manufacture. 

6) Matz, Formulas and Processes for Bakers

7) Gobbetti/Ganzle, Handbook on Sourdough Biotechnology

8) Bushuk, Rye

9) Stauffer, Functional Additives for Bakery Foods

10) The entire archive of the Bread Bakers Guild of America magazine. Every issue has articles of extraordinary worth re: bread baking knowledge and science. Also, their Sourdough Seminar printed materials, 1993

These would be my top ten to consult should I seek answers that Google alone wouldn't provide : ) 

 mariana

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

Wonderful, thanks.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

 

 

So glad to see confirmation for some of the things I mess around at home, such as "100% sponge".....

Thanks to you, I've completed a super delicious experiment which I'm eager to share, just haven't had time to post it.....

 

mariana's picture
mariana

Yippee, I am so glad you got The Book : ))) It's awesome. 

I was also greatly impressed by the 100% sponge. I attempted to do something like that with mixing straight dough and incorporating enriching ingredients after it has fermented. But the one in the manual is so unusual because it is 'greased' and unsalted, so it was a very new concept to me. I tested it a couple of years ago in my Zo Virtuoso and it gave me a great sponge and a great loaf of bread. I loved it!

This is the 100% sponge we are talking about, for those who don't have the book nearby:

I tested it on the Buttermilk White from Washburn&Butt, 1999 (formulas for the bread machine baking). 

100% sponge: all flour, all yeast, all fat (25% of total flour weight in this bread), 80% of all water, 3.5hrs fermentation at 30-33C. 

100% sponge)

Blending it with the remaining water and solids (salt, sugar, buttermilk powder).

Freshly mixed and fully developed bread dough rests for 30 min, then it is shaped, proofed and baked. 

Buttermilk White 100% method

 

Now it's your turn to share what your super delicious experiment looks like, Yippee! : ))

mariana

Yippee's picture
Yippee

when I complete my series of experiments and have results to compare side-by-side.  I started experiment #2 last night (I don't get to bake often, so it may take a while to finish the experiments).  This time I'm making a similar bread as in experiment #1 but using stronger flour (14% protein vs. 11%).  The duration I mixed the dough was approximately the same as in the previous experiment. But I wondered how the increased protein in flour affects the mixing time to fully develop gluten.   Would it take less time because the protein is abundant,  or would it take longer because there's more work to do???  Please advise.  Thanks.

 

P.S. Checking the book to  if answers are there...

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Yippee, 

Even 11% protein is too strong a flour, imho. 14% is probably only suitable for 'rye' formulas. I can't imagine baking unenriched white bread with 14% protein flour. The best value is around 10%. 

Yes, more protein (or, better said, more gluten per 1 lb of dough) equals more mixing, either longer mixing time (same speed) or mixing intensely (higher speed, etc.), more energy applied to dough in order to develop gluten. Of course, I am talking about more protein per 100g flour of the same ash content and equate protein with gluten. Whole grain flour naturally has the very highest protein %, but that protein is in bran and doesn't contribute to the gluten formation. Or, if you add strong, high protein wheat flour to rye or oat flour, etc. which doesn't form its own gluten, the total gluten per lb of dough will be low and mixing time rather short.  

There is also such thing as quality of protein. A lot of protein doesn't necessarily mean a lot of gluten or that gluten is very good and will tolerate intense mixing. So, proceed with caution, unless the label on the bag specifically states that it contains high protein b r e a d flour, with high quality protein that forms great gluten when combined with water. 

In the book (E.J. Pyler, Baking Science and Technology, 4th ed), the answer to your question is in volume 2, p24. It says there that flour strength is a factor that exerts a measurable effect on optimum mixing time. ... "Low protein or weak flours will often reach their optimum development at the cleanup stage at which point mixing should be ended. Strong flours on the other hand may require mixing considerably beyond the clean-up stage." 

best wishes, 

mariana

Yippee's picture
Yippee

 

"...I can't imagine baking unenriched white bread with 14% protein flour..."

 

because I'm making a super rich bread - panettone!

 

I used Giusto's "Ultimate Performer" bread flour which claims to have contained the "highest protein" and it has produced very strong doughs and reliable results for me in the past. I was a bit cautious when I saw a mixed dough that's glossier than usual and thought I might have overmixed it.  But the excessive fat in the dough could have caused the unusual shine, too, I think.  I let the dough rest and adjusted the mixing time in the next phase and it turned out fine. 

But something else went 'wrong' - the crumb of my chocolate panettone turned out to be the color of a (light) brownie! It's so different from the chocolate-studded panettone crumb I had envisioned! The good thing is I had nailed the procedures in experiment #1 so the color issue was relatively minor.  I may resolve the issue by sifting out all the chocolate dust from the chopped pieces but without the dust, there may not be the 'smoky' effect in the crumb??? Or may be I can use (mini) chocolate chips??? I'm afraid if regular chocolate chips are used, the melted chocolate would ooze out the crumb and make the crumb look messy and ugly.  Do you have any suggestions?

 

I found the answers to my mixing question in the book as well.  It's a great reference.  Thank you again for your recommendation and the comprehensive answers you've provided.  You're awesome, Mariana!  Wish I had 'met' you sooner!

 

Yippee

 

mariana's picture
mariana

Dear Yippee, good morning!

When I mix chocolate pieces with the dough in my Zojirushi bread machine, it blends them with the dough. The end result - chocolate bread, chocolate throughout. It is due to several factors: high heat melts chocolate pieces, high speed of mixing rubs them into the dough and then there is the very structure of the mixing paddle in a bread machine that pushes chocolate into the narrow space between the blade and the bottom of the pan as it twirls the dough around. Thus, it minces them. In the end  I get an evenly chocolate crumb. 

For the chocolate incorporation in form of embedded pieces, watch the dough temp during mixing and proof, so that the chocolate  doesn't melt. The melting point of chocolate is between 86 degrees F. (30 degrees C.) and 90 degrees F. (32 degrees C.) - exactly the temperature of the kneaded dough in bread machines, the proofing temp is even higher! Chocolate chips begin to melt at 90F (32C). They contain less cocoa butter than fine chocolate and are 'denser', but they still melt during baking. They retain their shape a bit better when the crumb is cooling though. 

Use low speed or do it by hand, maybe even during shaping of loaves, as late in the process as possible, and, of course, use chocolate pieces or chocolate chips free from dust if you want to avoid swirls and  the overall moire pattern of colors in the crumb. 

Both panettones are ok, chocolate and chocolate studded, or with soft chocolate center or brown chocolate swirls throughout, etc. It's just a matter of understanding the mechanics of mixing and of surprisingly low melting point of chocolate. 

best wishes, 

mariana

Yippee's picture
Yippee

then I may have to hand-mix them - a real challenge because I've never mixed add-ins by hand.  I always rely on the bread machine or mixer to do the job.  I've started doing S&F after our discussion of dough strength.  Now I have to learn how to mix by hand... I'm willing to do all the extra work to get a beautiful panettone.  I'll keep you posted.  Thank you as always!

Yippee 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Hey Yippee, I have no idea as to the hydration of your dough, but I’ve recently started using the Rubaud Method of kneading by hand. It only works with moderately wet doughs. I know it works well with 70% and above. If you haven’t seen this method, I think you’ll enjoy watching it. See this link.  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zgz0oAhgwyg

HTH

Dan

BTW - Love your user name and the image used in your profile!

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Thanks for the link, now I know what Trevor looks like

Unfortunately I cannot use this method to make bread simply because it takes too long to develop the dough. 

What I need to learn is how to hand-mix chocolate to the panettone dough so that it will retain the golden color and won't turn out like chocolate bread.

Yippee

 

mariana's picture
mariana

My bad, Yippee, I forgot to add links to the videos that show how to incorporate by hand. I am sorry. Please, forgive. 

This is how it's done. Well, at least this is what I learned from Danielle Forestier and Richard Bertinet, the methods I use. 

Example of incorporating small particles: chunks of compressed yeast or a spoon of salt, starting at 4:34 and finishing at about 6:30.

You simply follow the same method with your panettone dough and give it a few slap'n'folds with one hand to distribute the particles (let's say, small chocolate chips) inside a piece of dough which is already well developed and fermented.

For larger chocolate chunks the other method is better, since they are too large to actually knead the dough with them inside (they will destroy the dough, tear it apart). See how Bertinet incorporates entire prunes into bread dough and shapes it later on. We simply do the same with panettone dough and large chocolate chunks. Starting at 2:56.

 

 

 I get the most even distribution of raisins or chocolate chips in enriched dough when I do it piece by piece while shaping pieces to place them in the baking pans-panettone molds. I stretch a portion of dough into a narrow thin strip, sprinkle it with chips/raisins, then roll them in, pinch the ends, and place the resulting cylinder-roll in the baking pan, standing it up on one end.  Each piece then bakes into a tall panettone with very even distribution of inclusions in each slice: not too many in the center or near the edges. Even. Unfortunately, this method works only for tall panettones, not for the squat or round ones baked without tin, not for colomba pasquale, etc. 

mariana

 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

 

by your kindness and willingness to help others.  The least I can do in return is to provide a detailed write-up of my experiments, I promise.

 

Your cylinder-roll method will be perfect for my tall panettones and my poor hands and wrists that have carpal tunnel syndrome.  Thank you so much!

 

Yippee

 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Good morning, Mariana.

 

 

Is my interpretation of your instructions correct?

 

 

The cylinders 'collapsed' ...

 

 

The final proof has been extremely slow because I'm working with previously frozen impesti from last weekend. If it cannot finish today,  I may need to redo the experiment at another time.

 

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Yippee, 

your way is as good as any. I don't do it like that, my method is much more primitive: one cylinder of dough and it stands on its end (as you would place a shaped piece for cinnamon rolls). I place a single cylinder of dough in each pan. Placing several cylinders into a pan, like you do, will give you even better distribution of inclusions. 

Generally speaking, there is a number of ways to do what you started to do and each one is used by bakers to achieve even crumb, even distribution of alveoli, or inclusions, best volume and best keeping qualities, etc.

You can place a number of simple rolls inside one pan, each with a bit of chocolate chips inside (this would be similar to Bertinet's method of incorporating prunes as in the video above)

Or you can sprinkle your stretched dough and roll it up,

then place resulting cylinders into the bread pan like so:

Or braid several strands (2, 3, 4, whatever) and then place the resulting braid into the bread pan/pannetone mold;

or you can cut long cylinders into short segments, like you did, and place them differently, each placement achieves a bit different effect, U shapes are the best. 

Finally, instead of making a simple roll from a simple sheet of dough, you can roll up three sheets of dough, sprinkling raisins, chips, candied fruit on top of each

  and then proceed with any of the options given above, for example, cut them into short cylinders and place in pans in some fashion. 

 Photos by Lesaffre.  

mariana

 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Thank you, Mariana! 

Will start planning my post soon...

                                            

 

 

                                                       

 

 

 

                                                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                           

 

 

mariana's picture
mariana

This is one seriously beautiful, well done, beautiful panettone, Yippee. My hat of off to you! Wow...

{{{{ hugs}}}}

mariana

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Here it is, my dear.

Yippee

GustavoSM's picture
GustavoSM

I’m waiting for my copy of modernist bread!!! It’s expensive (in Brazil, Saraiva has a good price for the book) but I think it’s worth (four years of work and lots of research).

Know the science behind bread doesn’t take the fun of baking. It gives you the right tools to bake better and to be creative.

Learned a lot from this topic.

Thank you

Dulcilo's picture
Dulcilo

What a great teacher you are Mariana. I am a newbie and learned more from your posts than all the books I have picked up so far.

mariana's picture
mariana

Thank you Dulcilo. Thank you very much!

mariana

Dulcilo's picture
Dulcilo

While the focus of this thread has been on kneading and gluten development, you said something else that I have never heard elsewhere: Sifting flour prior to mixing (to aerate it) and thorough kneading is the first step in successful baking. None of the books I have (the modern popular ones) talk about sifting at all. Can you tell us more about the role of sifting? Do you sift prior or after measuring? Thanks in advance.

 

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Dulcilio, 

the subject of sifting is really rather large, so I will try to cover the most essential points. 

First of all, we sift in order to remove possible impurities from the flour. If you buy only North American and from large corporations, then that is not a problem. Those flours are clean. European flours  and artisan flours, flours from local millers might have surprising number of impurities. They are not always dangerous normally, but sometimes really not wanted.  I have found anything and everything in my bags of flour, dead and alive, long and short, light and dark : ))) over the years. I've seen it all. 

Second, for the purposes of better cake or bread we either sift or not. The cake will come out better if we only whisk the flour in the bag, not sift. Sifted flour gives denser cake. For breads we definitely sift it and very thoroughly. 

Third, should we whisk/sift before or after measuring, or should we not? It depends. Some formulas specifically say 1 cup of sifted flour, i.e. sift then measure. Others state 1 cup of flour, sifted, meaning "measure unsifted flour, then sift it". We should also carefully read about the method of filling the cup that the authors recommend! Scoop and sweep is one thing, while pouring flour from above into the cup, spoon and sweep - another! 

When you spoon and sweep, there is no difference whether the flour is previously sifted or not! It's remarkable how consistent this method of measuring by volume is. 

1 cup of sifted = 129g

1 cup of fluffed = 132g

1 cup of sifted = 133. 

 

White Flour, Ceresota APF, 11.5-11.8% protein:

Sifted

Fluffed

Settled

Method of measuring.

541g

 

1 cup = 135g

539 g

 

1 cup = 135g

598 g

 

1 cup =150g

Scoop & sweep

516g

 

1 cup =129g

527 g

 

1 cup = 132g

531 g

 

1 cup = 133g

Spoon & sweep

 

 

Whole wheat all-purpose flour, Ceresota brand:

Sifted

Fluffed

Settled

Method of measuring.

4 cups = 476 g

 

1 cup = 119g

504 g

 

1 cup = 126g

608 g

 

1 cup =152g

Scoop & sweep

478 g

 

1 cup = 120g

500 g

 

1 cup =125g

502 g

 

1 cup =126g

Spoon & sweep

 

If you measure by weight, then it is not important. You only sift to remove impurities and you only sift to improve bread quality. 

Fourth... Now, how to sift to improve the bread quality and why? We all have a variety of sifters at home, which one to use? 

For impurities, to sift once, use the finest sifter your flour will still pass through, You really want to catch everything dirty, no matter how small. 

Sometimes you will discover something about the composition of your flour in the bag. For example, Polish flour type 550 (for baguettes) always has durum semolina added to it! It's a blend of hard and soft wheats. Grains of semolina will not pass through the finest screen, so return them back into flour, if there are no impurities. 

For sifting to aerate flour, use any sifter, medium to large openings are fine. You want speed, to be done with sifting as quickly as possible. 

The process of sifting is not as simple as it seems. First of all, factories don't just sift through one screen, they sift flour through about 30 screens. At home that would mean to pass the same flour 30 times through the same sifter, over and over again. Let's say you buy a bag of flour and it says there right on the label, that it is presifted. That means, that they guarantee you no impurities.

You sift only to aerate and you can use a medium sifter, to sift faster.

After the very first passage you will see some clumps of flour! The flour is not homogeneous, some particles cling together. You need to break those clumps, make them pass through (push with you finger). 

 

 I usually empty the bag of flour into a large bin. First, I freeze the flour, for 24-48hr at minus 20C, if it is imported or artisan, to kill the potential bugs or their eggs. Then I sift to remove the impurities and store flour in the bin. In order to reduce dust in the kitchen, I sift directly into the bin and then scoop out  or use spoon, if required, as much  flouras I need for baking. 

You can see that the surface of the flour in the bin is bumpy. It is not a homogeneous powder, it clumps and needs to be sifted. 

Insufficient number of passages will give flour that is fluffy, but it  cracks, breaks into fissures if the bin is shaken. For me it is about after 10 passages of the same flour through the sifter. 

Finally, well sifted flour is so fluffy and light, it stays fluffy if you hit the bin slightly, its surface doesn't crack. Such flour is indescribably pleasant to touch. Bakeries usually work with such delectable flour either because they receive it very freshly milled (and recently sifted by the miller) or because they sift it themselves in an electric sifter with many screens. 

The benefits of sifted flour in bread are manifold. Sifting oxygenates flour (makes it stronger), it adds air to flour (better crumb, improved porosity), it breaks flour into truly small and easily hydrated particles, so gluten is formed quicker. It improves flour hydration capacity about 5%, and it is a lot of water to add to the weight of bread, if it is a bakery production! A significant profit. It remarkably improves the volume of bread and makes dough stronger. 

It is possible to bake good and wonderful bread if you never sift. I just have to sift, because I buy a lot of European or locally milled flours (not from the supermarket, but from the miller - might have bugs, pieces of rope, etc.), and because I know the difference that it makes. But in a hurry I often skip sifting and no one but me knows and notices what I missed : ))) That extra notch in quality. 

mariana

 

 

agmeneghin's picture
agmeneghin

Mariana,

You mention that a thorough sifting could raise the hydration capacity by 5%. Would that mean that a dough made of sifted flour would handle like it was less hydrated?

I've been reading all your recent posts and want to thank you for all the knowledge you are sharing.

Al

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi Al, nice to meet you!

Yes, the dough made of sifted flour will require more water to achieve proper consistency (each kind of bread requires a dough of certain optimal consistency, (not optimal hydration, but consistency which is a function of flour strength), or else it will not be hydrated enough which will show during dough handling and fermentation and proofing and baking : )

mariana

agmeneghin's picture
agmeneghin

Hi Mariana,

Nice to meet you as well. I have been reading your posts with great interest. The science behind the art of bread baking fascinates me.

Sorry for the delayed response. I tried sifting flour for a 75% hydration Champlain SD. I made 6 passes with a standard kitchen strainer and was amazed at the difference during mixing. The dough handled nicely but I was little disappointed in the crumb.

Al

Based on your last post is it correct that the dough would need to be hydrated more to make sure the dough has the proper consistency in order to get the typical final loaf crumb?

The dough using the sifted flour was definitely of a stiffer consistency.

mariana's picture
mariana

Yes, agmeneghin, add a little bit more water if using well sifted flour. For example, instead of 1 cup of water as usual (250g of water for a certain amount of flour), add 1 cup and 1 tbsp of water (265g of water) to the same weight of flour, but thoroughly sifted.

Also, do not confuse strength with consistency. The dough is stiffer, more resistant to stretch, simply because aeration oxygenates flour and adds strength, fortifies gluten. Consistency is a bit different, it is more along the lines of dough feeling dry, crumb being drier and tighter than desired, etc.

Experimentation is necessary. Learning to feel the dough and to watch for the nuances in the outcomes. 

best wishes, 

mariana

Cellarvie's picture
Cellarvie

Thank you all for this discussion, so useful.

katyajini's picture
katyajini

 This is an amazingly informative conversation!  There is something about gluten development I am itching to ask.  Hope this is not morbidly dumb.  There are bread recipes that never see mechanical mixers or get any heavy kneading, but are 'delicately' mixed by hand.  Such as Hamelman's 'Unkneaded Baguette' or 'Baguette de Tradition' or all of Ken Forkish's breads.  In such recipes, with just s&f, can one develop gluten to the degree you are describing to get that thin crust ideal? I would like to have the ability to develop thin AND crispy crust or maybe a thicker crust when I want.  Can I do it with s&f-s? My crusts are hit and miss just like where this thread began.  I would love to master this crust thing so much.  Thank you.

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi katyajini!

There are no dumb questions, methinks, but there is such thing as dumb silence : ))) Your question is very appropriate both within this thread and for the general understanding. 

There can be a lot of gluten or a little gluten in wheat bread. And gluten can be strong or mellow or very weak. When there is a moderate amount of gluten and this gluten is moderately strong, bread dough can be delicately developed by hand. 

Such breads as baguettes and maybe Ken Forkish's breads (I never tasted one made by him personally), require special flour, usually European type 55 or type 550 flour. Those flours have little protein (around 10% protein in 100g of flour with 15% moisture content) and therefore modest amount of gluten. And northern European wheats are very different from North American wheat in that they give very tender crumb and delicate crispy crust that is easy on the teeth and lips.

Usually even those North European flours are additionally weakened by addition of malt in order to break down (proteolyse) some protein during autolysis and make 'delicate mixing' sufficient. 

North American flours have strong gluten and a lot of it. Even all purpose flour in North America has either too much or too strong a protein in it, to be useful for such method, for such breads. Bakers usually add generous amounts of malt and L-cysteine to them in order to obtain palatable baguettes with reasonable keeping qualities. 

mariana

 

katyajini's picture
katyajini

Hmmmm more interesting information thats useful to know.

Am I to gather then that I may use low gluten all purpose flour and add diastatic malt and l-cysteine to this flour to experiment to get the kind of crust I want for these breads? What amounts of diastatic malt and  L-cys is a good place to start? I have diastatic malt.  Where do you get L-cys?

Yes, I have had really good baguettes in France and other French breads and its that very tender, almost gossamer crumb and crispy crust that I want to achieve, the best I can. What I am doing tends to make very chewy crumb and leathery or hard crust at least more so than I want. I was led to believe that KAF, AP or Bread flour is the best to get to make these breads if you can't get the European flours. Even KAF is the best to get period. Is this really true (KAF is the best)? KAF feels like it has a lot of gluten in my hands. I am not able to get the french flours so what would you recommend from easily available US flours? 

Thank you so much for your kind and knowledgeable guidance Marina! 

kenlklaser's picture
kenlklaser

They recommended 20 PPM L-cystine.  Can't help with your question of where to obtain it. 

 
mariana's picture
mariana

katyajini, I am in Canada, so I am not as familiar with the US flours. The best ever that I tried is Heckers/Ceresota Unbleached Enriched Presifted All-Purpose Flour. My son brings it from the US, upon my request, I adore that flour. It is the best bread flour on the entire continent, period. It gives sweet, clean, buttery flavor; light and soft yeast bread. 

For your purposes, for baguettes, Gold Medal Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: 10.5% protein also would be good, but I can't testify personally, never tried it. When tested in breads it gives the following outcome, according to Cook's Illustrated. Yeast bread: Buttery and clean, “not too doughy,” somewhat tender and somewhat chewy, with a medium crumb/

I don't see the need to combine diastatic malt with L-cysteine. Diastatic malt alone or in combination with ascorbic acid is enough.

L-cysteine is sold everywhere in pharmacies or health food stores, it is a dietary supplement, an amino-acid, a building block for the proteins. Amazon offers it both in tablets and in capsules, etc. I experimented with it and it slacks the dough too much, even for pizza I prefer to avoid adding straight L-cysteine and use the special pizza yeast with L-cysteine already added to it. See, for example, Fleishmann's Pizza Yeast. Maybe that yeast in combination with your usual flour is the solution. 

https://www.amazon.com/Twinlab-L-Cysteine-500mg-Capsules-Pack/dp/B001G7R0GI

KAF flour is ok, but it is not different from the Canadian flours, the same. It is sold here in Canada too and I tried it and it was not a revelation, just the same strong bread flour as our own. Not suitable for hand kneading or for lean hearth breads, imho. 

best wishes, 

mariana

 

kenlklaser's picture
kenlklaser

Thanks for asking a great question Jim!

Mariana, you've put a lot of work into all those photos! 

I used to use the blade on the food processor to mix dough, but stopped when I realized the extreme heat it was putting into the dough. The mixing machine I would like, as an occasional home baker, is way too expensive for me, a Globe SP08. 

I do have an old bread machine which worked fine the last time it was used a decade ago.  I guess that will change, it does have a kneading cycle function.

   
Justanoldguy's picture
Justanoldguy

Mariana you have given very generously of your time and extensive knowledge and I want to express my sincere thanks for your patience. I have a question about working with freshly home-milled hard white and hard red North American wheat. Do the principles you've mentioned in reference to commercial flours still apply when using unbolted, unsifted stone ground flours? What impact, if any, does the inclusion of bran and fresh germ have on the process of gluten development?   

mariana's picture
mariana

Hello Justanoldguy, 

I am very happy to meet you here, thanks for contributing to this thread. 

I have a mill at home, but I got it for milling rye, because freshly milled rye flour is the best for breads. With wheat, freshly milled flour is for those who really love it, not for all. Most bakers would rather age wheat flour, not use freshly milled. Of course, it can be aged chemically, by adding some flour improver, as millers do. Even if that improver is simple dry vital wheat gluten, to give bread structure. 

So bran and germ are the least of your worries when dealing with freshly milled flour. The gluten itself is the problem there. Germ tends to weaken gluten and bran mechanically disrupts gluten strands and gluten sheets which are incredibly weak per se in the freshly milled, not aged flour.  Bakers tend to mix cooler dough, if it is from freshly milled flour, because there is more friction in the mixer. Give more time at lower speed and refrigerate dough, if you see that it is too warm. 

Bran per se and bran in germ will absorb more water than usual, but this water uptake is slow, so give your dough more time between initial mixing (blending flour and water) and developing it (kneading it).  Many bakers rely on 'soaks', or blend water with flour and let it sit in refrigerator overnight, then next day knead it and add yeast, sourdough starter, etc. 

Among famous bakers, I can recommend reading Thom Leonard's book. He adores breads made with freshly ground wheat and bakes them a lot. The process is described there: from the development of a special whole grain starter - desem, to the bread formula per se. HOWEVER, he uses winter wheat, which is softer, gives better bread, melts in your mouth whole grain bread. You are probably milling spring wheat. It is much stronger, so you would knead it a bit more thoroughly. 

Another famous baker that bakes with freshly milled whole grain wheat flour is Chad Robertson. His two books would be helpful, if you are looking for tips and formulas to successfully bake with freshly milled wheat flour. 

Even then, with all that advice, your particular wheat might be different from another baker's wheat and you would have to experiment, to understand better what's best for your variety of wheat. For that reason alone, for example, I avoid baking with Red Fife wheat. It is strong and incredibly flavorful, OK, but finicky, has low mixing tolerance... if you overmix it even a tiny bit, the dough disintegrates in front of your eyes. If you under-mix it, it gives tough bread. So I prefer to use it in soda breads! 

best wishes, 

mariana

Dulcilo's picture
Dulcilo

 

"Even if that improver is simple dry vital wheat gluten, to give bread structure."

Mariana, you just answered a question I have had in the back of my mind. Since I got a new Ankarsrum mixer, I used a recipe that Ashely McCord published especially for the Ankarsrum. Her recipe called for vital gluten, so I bought a package and followed her directions. But I was using bagged flour. She used her own freshly milled flour. She never explained why she added gluten. So I have always wondered why none of the other recipes I've used since then call for additional gluten. The bag languishes in my freezer. But if I ever get into milling wheat, I'll have a use for it. Thanks!

 

katyajini's picture
katyajini

Mariana, I cannot thank you enough for guiding me, us all, so richly!

I wrote a post earlier but somehow its not showing up.

First, I listened to what you said and did what you suggested and it worked so well for me!  I made baguettes with lower gluten flours.

I made the baguettes by the Gosselin recipe.  Its quite simple where flour and most of the water are first mixed (gently) and allowed to autolyse for a period time, a few hours at room temp or upto 24 hours in the fridge. I guess at this step step there is gluten formation and maybe some degradation? Then the yeast, salt and remaining water are incorporated (double hydration) by S&F over time as the dough ferments.  The dough is cut and stretched into baguettes and baked.  So just delicate development of dough, wherever that gets the dough.

I used three different flours, KAF AP,  Wheat Montana AP which has slightly less gluten than KAF AP, and Pillsbury unbleached AP, lowest gluten.  Sure enough the lower the gluten, the more tender and thinner the crust.  I was afraid the crumb would not work but it did. With the lower gluten the crumb was still just as open if not more, soft with a tender chew.  Lower gluten flours was a huge improvement  from where I was and so much closer to where I want to be.

  

1st is KAF, 2nd Wheat Montana, 3rd is Pillsbury, in order of decreasing gluten.  One cannot tell the crispness of the crust that well but that crumb worked out, one can see!  And you can see that the crust gets thinner as the gluten decreases!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  My baguettes are so much more like what I want them to be. Who knew I just had to use use lower gluten flour but develop it well! 

One thing still left to be desired:  I still don't get that splintering or shattering crust.  The crust is mostly crisp but holds together.  Do you have any advice on what makes a splintering crust?

Staying disciplined, and working on one variable at a time, I wont go into L-cysteine at this time, but I will keep it in mind.  It is a very strong gluten disrupting agent.

Thank you for directing me to Heckers flour and that all out endorsement.  I just got a pack today as soon as I read your post.  I will try it out soon next to Gold Medal AP. 

And because you have encouraged me, emboldened me to ask questions, I still have another.  What makes the crust on sourdough breads so chewy?  Even the breads I make deliberately to be sweet .(non-sour), have a chewy crust.  Is there anything to make sourdough crusts a little less chewy? 

Thank you! :)