The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oxidation and Slap & Folds

DanAyo's picture

Oxidation and Slap & Folds

Is it possible to over oxidate a dough using Slap & Folfs (French Folds)?

Doughs that are subject to over oxidation loose a noticeable and obvious amount of flavor.


inquiring minds want to know”...

Ford's picture

It appears to me that with "slap and fold" the dough would have no more oxidation than by normal hand kneading or machine kneading.


dabrownman's picture

commercial machines.,  It is almost impossible to do with a KA home mixer too.  I look at it as another urban myth like white dough turning to goo from protease action.  It just isn't going to happen using normal bread making processes at home. That doesn't mean you cant over ferment and over poof though.

suave's picture

Much is made of over-kneading and over-oxidation, but people ignore the fact that Hamelman originally wrote it with professional bakers and industrial mixers in mind.  The bottom line is, you can slap and fold the living daylights out of your dough, your back and shoulders will give out first.

DanAyo's picture

Thanks for the reply Suave.

But I can speak from experience when I say that over kneading will have a noticeable and detrimental affect on the flavor. My experience deals with mixers only. I am not aware of over mixing by hand, but the Slap & Fold method seems very efficient. And because I enjoy the method, I am ap to exceed the 300 reps. <I wonder why my wife thinks I'm obsessed>

The question remains in my mind, “ is it possible to over knead and thus over oxidize a bread dough by using too many Slap & Fold reps?


dabrownman's picture

SO forget about it Dan.  Can't get plainer than that!

Filomatic's picture

Since page 12 has a mixing time conversion table depending on mixer type, clearly Hamelman has tested gluten development time between commercial and home mixers.  So he's not just using commercial mixers as his guide.  I was hand mixing for awhile using the Forkish method.  I developed tennis elbow that took months to go away, so I'm back to machine mixing with stretch and fold.

Based on the fact that several bakers here use the method, if there was a significant loss of flavor due to oxidation, they would have noticed.

Portus's picture

... went through my mind whilst recently performing SF for an extended period on a 123 loaf dough that was going through its dreadful "sticky" stage.  Serendipity played a hand as I had just come across your latest YouTube lesson about over-hydrated five grain dough and SF.  It gave me courage to continue through the mush to a silky-smooth outcome.

Thanks Danny!


mwilson's picture

In respect to the other comments..

Let's be clear, oxidation done through mixing is not the same as overmixing to the point where gluten is degraded.

Oxidation is both good and bad.

Gluten can't be strong without some oxidation however excessive oxygenation can bleach carotenoid pigments, resulting in a loss of a natural wheat flavour.

I have seen first hand how I turned a beautifully yellow durum wheat dough completely white under hand mixing. There was a clue; the dough was very warm. But there was another factor... Sourdough

The oxidation of carotenoid pigments is actually an enzymatic process driven by lipoxygenase enzymes which occur naturally in flour. While oxygen is needed to facillitate this bleaching the point is; it happens faster in doughs that are warmer while oxygen is present.

So I think one can mix intensively whilst avoiding bleaching by keeping the dough temperature low. Easier to do with large doughs! (Larger dough masses take longer to heat up, but also take longer to cool down).

Slap and folds really help to work the gluten while at the same time they keep the dough cool.

A sourdough starter is an oxidiser or it can cause reduction too, depends on maturity and is something to consider...

PS: What I forgot to add... Mixing to the point where gluten is knackered is very difficult to by hand.

DanAyo's picture

I always value your input. Your advice is born from experience.

You wrote, “A sourdough starter is an oxidiser or it can cause reduction too, depends on maturity and is something to consider...” What do you mean by “it can cause reduction, too”? I don’t understand reduction.

My take-away is. Bleaching is possible while performing Slap & Folds, but if the dough temp stays cool this not likely to occur. (NOTE- I did notice that the dough remained cool to the touch during the Slap & Folds. I attributed that to the temerature of the countertop.) Dough degredation and over oxidating (bleaching) are 2 different things. Degraded dough is a result of damaged gluten, either by over stretching (torn gluten strands) or enzymatic action that damages by breaking down the gluten. It is possible to over oxidate a dough and not damage the gluten.

Michael, please correct any misconceptions.



DanAyo's picture

It seems that A NEW EXPERIMENT is called for... Since I am in the middle of a complete restoration of our home there is no telling when I will perform this. But if anyone is interesting in performing this test, your participation is greatly appreciated.

My idea for the test:

  1. Mix up any dough by hand.
  2. Divide said dough into 4 equal portions
  3. Slap & Fold dough 1 for a short number of reps (50?)
  4. Slap & Fold dough 2 for a medium number of reps (150?)
  5. Slap & Fold dough 3 for a large number of reps (300?)
  6. Slap & Fold dough 4 for an outrageous number of reps (600?)

The results could be evaluated on color of crumb, degree of rise, texture, and most of all flavor. Documentation and accompanying images would be most beneficial. 

NOTE - Numerous Slap & Folds should be less hectic, considering the technique would be performed on a single loaf. Another option - start with the complete undevided dough. Slap & Fold 50 reps, then remove 1/4 of the dough. Slap & Fold remaining dough 100 reps, then remove another piece the same weight as dough 1. Ans so on...

Any other ideas?

Any suggestions for improvements?

Any takers (volunteers)?


dabrownman's picture

as my standard for at least a year making bread 3 times a week.  Not once was there any degradation of color, flavor or oxidation.