The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough Going Slack in the Middle of Kneading.

iPat's picture
iPat

Dough Going Slack in the Middle of Kneading.

Hello,

 

    Recently, I've been experiencing an odd problem with my bread making.

 

    Using the straight dough method, the ingredients would be thoroughly combined in the first 3 minutes using speed 1.

    I would then switch to speed 2 and start kneading the dough.

    During minute 4 to minute 9, everything would look normal (a ball of undeveloped dough banging around the mixing bowl).

    But then, at around the 10-minute mark, the dough ball would go slack and stick to the bottom of the bowl. (see picture)

    It would continue to stick to the bottom, getting minimally kneaded for the next 15 minutes.

    At around the 25th minute, the dough would finally pick itself up and start getting a full kneading action once again. (see picture)

    After that, it would take another 10-15 minutes of kneading to get a smooth and elastic dough ball.

 Slack dough

    I have tried using different flours and different hydration but they would all go slack just the same (FYI: The dough in the picture has a 62% hydration). The only thing I did differently than when I had no problem was that I have been making enriched breads (butter added last) using recipes that call for osmotolerant yeast.

    By the way, these recipes are from a bread machine cookbook (mistakenly bought) but I make them manually because I don't own a bread machine.

 

    What could be causing this? I went through the troubleshooting sections of my bread books, but there's no mentioning of a similar problem in any of them.

 

Thank You.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

How much butter are you adding and when are you adding it?

iPat's picture
iPat

I added my butter at the very end. 5 minutes before the dough is done. That would be around the 30th-35th minute.

 

The recipes all use between 10-15% butter. But the slack is happening before butter got involved.

starvingviolist's picture
starvingviolist

Are you performing an autolyse? That might help.

Also, have you tried the "Windowpane Test" to assess gluten development?

iPat's picture
iPat

I was trying to replicate a bread machine so there was no autolyse.

 

I did the windowpane test near the end of mixing when the dough started to look done.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Autolyse. Your mixer will last a lot longer once you understand this basic principle of bread building..., 

Wild-Yeast

iPat's picture
iPat

You are such a strong advocate of autolyse >.<

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

As some of us pointed out in another thread, 30 minutes of mixing for a dough that's only at 62% hydration and *no butter* is bizarre. The mixing should take less than 10 minutes. Without more photos (or a video), I don't know how to diagnose this. A windowpane test every other minute would help.

iPat's picture
iPat

I will try to document my predicament more carefully next time.

 

I never knew that home baking could be so troublesome. I thought that switching from a large scale production to a smaller one would just be a matter of scaling everything down. Apparently not T_T

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Measure out flour and water into the bowl (best for sandwich sourdough is around 65-67%).

Mix for 4 minutes. Cover and let rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.

Mix for 4 minutes at the end of the autolyse. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Add other ingredients (the levain in the case of sourdough) and mix till the dough passes the window test and exhibits good extensibility - generally  about 5 to 6 minutes. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Mix for 4 minutes.

Finally add the salt and mix till the dough firms up (addition of salt contracts the gluten protein) for 5-6 minutes.

Transfer dough to bulk ferment container and maintain at 77°F until it has doubled in bulk.

Weigh and shape to final proofing baskets or pans.

Over mixing damages the flour through oxidation. The idea is to allow the gluten to form naturally by allowing an adequate amount of time for the biochemical reactions to occur in the dough.

 

Wild-Yeast

iPat's picture
iPat

I will find time to try your method. Looks kinda complicated.

 

I should mention that I use folding to develop my gluten during the bulk fermentation (fold every 30 minutes for 2 hours). Because after all that time kneading in the KitchenAid, the gluten structure in my dough is usually still not ideal.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

This, alone, should be enough to develop the gluten without any mixing. Can you post the recipe?

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The method I describe above doesn't require any further gluten development. The forming method used is the old French method which builds in the skin tension necessary for developing a good oven spring as shown in the video below:

 .

Regards,

Wild-Yeast

iPat's picture
iPat

Thank you for a wonderful video.

 

By the way, how exactly is this old French makeup technique differ from the current technique? I failed to see the differences in the video. It looks very similar to how I do it.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

There's no mechanical mixing apparatus. All mixing is done by hand - notice the gentleness by which the baker handles the dough.

After the autolyse the dough is cut into loaf sized pieces stretched and folded then placed back in the primary ferment heap. At the end of the primary ferment the dough is weighed, formed and placed into baskets for proofing.

Test: What does she use to slash the loaves and where does she keep it in between slashes?

Wild-Yeast  

iPat's picture
iPat

"Test: What does she use to slash the loaves and where does she keep it in between slashes?"

 

That's the one thing I noticed the first time watched the video. Hehe.

HansB's picture
HansB

What a good video!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Try taking the dough ball out after 5 minutes in the mixer, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then do a stretch & fold. Rest for another 10 minutes and fold again. Repeat 3 more times and see how nice your dough is!

I have seen this happen myself (the dough going slack in the mixer after a period of time). I think the gluten structure must start to break down after so much vigorous machine kneading or something. Certainly you will be mixing a lot of oxygen into the dough (leads to oxidization) as well as increasing the dough temperature, neither of which is ideal.

iPat's picture
iPat

Thanks, I'll try your method sometime.

 

That's why I started with iced water. To make sure the dough temperature is ≈ 75°F (24°C) when it's done mixing.

 

I also heard that oxidation will make the crumb white. But my crumb was the opposite. It's brownish, almost wholewheat-like. That's another part that really confused me.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Everything about this is puzzling. Will you post the recipe?

iPat's picture
iPat

100% Flour

6% sugar

1.2% salt

1.2% yeast

62% water

14% butter

 

Very basic enriched bread recipe. Don't know why it's giving me such trouble.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

I made your dough. Here it is after 6 minutes of mixing on a fairly slow speed. It's usable now, but if you wanted full gluten development, maybe another minute or so. I only used 250g of flour, so a larger batch would probably mix more efficiently. I dropped the butter in at the very beginning....no need to wait for such a small quantity.

iPat's picture
iPat

That's how it usually was before with me too. Only recently did the problem start happening. That's why it's so perplexing to me so much I had to seek help.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Only other thought is that I read *somewhere* that flour that's very old might not be able to form a cohesive dough.

iPat's picture
iPat

Interesting. I'll look into that.

My flours are, indeed, quite old.

The oldest one expired 4 months ago. But I usually don't throw anything away until it's rancid.