The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Autolyse in fridge?

ValerieC's picture
ValerieC

Autolyse in fridge?

In the interest of time management, I was wondering if it Is possible to do an autolyse overnight in the fridge.I normally do bulk fermentation overnight in the fridge and final proof at room temperature. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

where you are?   And more importantly, what's in the autolyse?

ValerieC's picture
ValerieC

At this time of the year my Australian kitchen is about 18-20C . The autolyse contains 100% whole wheat flour ( fine) , water and salt. Currently i autolyse during the day for 3 hours. Thank you for your response.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I don't see any reason why the autolyse should be chilled.  The room temps are low enough to let the wet salted unyeasted dough sit easily overnight.  The dough temp will be easier to raise after a late addition of yeast.  

I have done this often to improve dough flavour.  The salt in the autolyse (not a true autolyse of only flour and water) may help control enzymes in the whole flour while it soaks overnight.  Add yeast when ready to ferment quickly.

Or

If you want to chill an autolyse, forget the autolyse method (don't see any benefit) and just mix up the dough with the yeast to chill after kneading the dough smooth.  Bring the dough up to room temp to bulk later the next day.  That will give the flour a long wet time and develop flavour with slow fermentation.

ValerieC's picture
ValerieC

Thank you so much for this valuable information. Your expertise is filling in the enormous gaps in my knowledge. It's good to know that there are simpler, alternative methods. Again, my thanks. Valerie

Abelbreadgallery's picture
Abelbreadgallery

Yes, you can do it. I have made it several times for baguettes.

ValerieC's picture
ValerieC

Thank you for your response. There is no substitute for experience, is there? Knowing that someone has successfully performed a procedure gives courage to beginners! Regards, Valerie.

 

Worthwhilebubble's picture
Worthwhilebubble

I always find extended cold autolyse gives a better flavour using whole grain flour . However I'm still experimenting and wondered if you tried an overnight fridge autolyse plus an overnight cold proof in the fridge the next day? I'm wondering if autolyse and proof in the fridge on 2 consecutive nights will have an effect on oven spring. Any thoughts will be appreciated.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I continue to try to understand what the benefit of an autolyse step is and figure out what the underlying mechanism is. The dominant wives tale is that there is some weakening of the gluten proteins by proteolytic enzymes that are native to the flour. Since those enzymes have negligible levels of activity above pH 4 and an autolyse never gets that low, I don't think that is the mechanism (and I find no literature that demonstrates it either).  The other hypothesis, recently debunked, was that the amylase enzymes in the flour need time to convert starch to maltose before the yeast is added so that sugar availability is not a limiting factor in yeast growth rate.  There is now some unpublished research that shows pretty conclusively that there is no significant difference between maltose levels in wet flour with and without salt at the 20 minute point that is taken as the minimum useful length of an autolyse.  This seems to leave the theory that complete hydration of the starch takes a finite amount of time and starch granules that are not broken may not take up water as fast as broken starch so that waiting for full water absorption allows the dough to asymtotically approach its final viscoelastic properties before mixing is started which then requires less energy to complete.

In any event, an overnight autolyse (10 hrs at 40°F) definitely makes a dough that is more extensible that one that has been mixed immediately after being wetted by the liquid.  I suspect that it doesn't take that long to get the benefit if full hydration is the objective, but my data does not yet cover the shorter and warmer points.

In fact, tonight was the first time that I have added instant dry yeast to the autolyse prior to refrigeration to explore the behavior during a long cold rest.  Since the yeast will actually reproduce at 40°F, it will be interesting to see if there is any visible volume increase in the morning.  I am not expecting much since any CO2 produced should go directly into solution in the liquid phase of the dough with no observable volume increase until the dough is saturated with CO2.  And of course CO2 production rate goes down exponentially as temperature goes down, and CO2 solubility goes up quite rapidly as temperature falls.

As for using a bulk retard during proof, you can slow the process down (and stop if if you get the dough cold enough) when you use commercial yeast. With a sourdough, things are somewhat different.  In that case, the LAB will continue to produce acid at low temperatures even after they have stopped reproducing and seem to have a lower minimum active temperature than many (perhaps most) sourdough yeasts. So doughs that have commercial yeast will behave differently than doughs that are built using a levain.

Benito's picture
Benito

For convenience and also based on the unpublished research that Doc. Dough references which I too have seen, I recently have been doing an overnight saltolyse (salted autolyse) to good effect.  I've wanted to be able to end bulk fermentation during the early afternoon so I did an overnight levain build and saltolyse.  For both I started with cold water and placed them in the fridge for at least an hour.  Then before bedtime I put them on the counter.  By the morning the levain was almost at peak.  I have had good results with respect to crumb and crust with this method for sourdough batards and plan a baguette formula this week with the same process.

Benny