The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Develop better gluten by adding flour in parts?

BakerNewbie's picture
BakerNewbie

Develop better gluten by adding flour in parts?

It seems to me that it's easier to develop gluten when there is a lot of liquid in the flour. I'm working on a brioche recipe that produces a dough that is rollable. The ratio of liquids to flour is such that it takes some time for my mixer to get the dough to window pane stage.

I wonder: could I leave our some of the flour initially so that I have a wetter dough, then let my mixer do its thing until it gets to window pane, and then add the rest of the flour? Is that a valid bread-making technique?

albacore's picture
albacore

One bakers' technique in breadmaking is to mix a dough at a lower hydration, eg 70%, develop gluten and then gently mix in more water to get a higher hydration, eg 75%. It is considered easier to develop gluten at the initial lower hydration. This technique is known by the French term "bassinage".

You seem to be trying to do the reverse?

Lance

BakerNewbie's picture
BakerNewbie

I assumed that having higher hydration would allow for the gluten to develop more easily, thus my thoughts about holding back part of the flour.

Doesn't gluten need liquid to develop. Why would lower hydration be better at developing gluten?

Is bassinage only applicable for high hydration doughs? Maybe since my dough is not high hydration, then doing the reverse is the way to go?

FueledByCoffee's picture
FueledByCoffee

Gluten cannot develop in the absence of of liquid, after all without liquid you only have flour.  The protein in flour contains glutenin and gliadin which when hydrated and agitated by the mixing action create the strength in the dough we refer to as gluten development.  At lower hydration gluten develops faster due to increased friction which results in a more impactful mechanical action by the mixer and an increased ability to trap gasses (oxygen) which is also a necessary component for gluten development.  Bakers often hold out water to reduce mixing time and thus reduce oxidation of the dough (refered to as double hydration or bassinage). Another technique to aid in gluten development without over oxidating is autolyse.  Even a short autolyse of 15 minutes can have great effect.

albacore's picture
albacore

I guess brioche may well behave differently to lean doughs. A lot of the liquid is coming from eggs and you have the pseudo-hydration of the butter.

The simplest thing is to just try your reverse bassinage on a small scale.

What brioche recipe are you using anyway? The few times I have made it, I used the La Varenne one:

500g flour/12g salt/30g sugar/15g fresh yeast/30g lukewarm water/6 eggs/250g unsalted butter. The butter is softened by pounding before use - a surprisingly effective method.

Lance