The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Purpose of laminating non-enriched doughs?

BobbyFourFingers's picture
BobbyFourFingers

Purpose of laminating non-enriched doughs?

I’ve been baking since before the internet and hadn’t realized until recently— despite it being somewhat obvious— that there have been advances in bread baking and that people are sharing advances and novel techniques online.

One such technique is laminating non-enriched doughs, like a basic sourdough. As an old school baker who learned at his grandfather’s apron I fail to see the benefit of laminating other than perhaps to prove to the baker that the gluten has fully developed or incorporating add-ins. If this is an old technique, it’s new to me.

What are the benefits of laminating a non-enriched dough?

Thank you in advance!

BobbyFourFingers's picture
BobbyFourFingers

Also, is this being done in professional bakeries? It would take up a lot of precious space.

julie99nl's picture
julie99nl

No, it is not being done in professional bakeries, that is what a professional spiral mixer is for, plus who has the room?  Even bakeries that are mixing by hand aren't doing this because it's ridiculous to attempt something so messy and clumsy with 10kg of wet dough.
I also don't call it laminating. It's just extreme stretching of the gluten that someone on instagram decided to re-appropriate. :slightly_smiling_face:

BobbyFourFingers's picture
BobbyFourFingers

My grandfather was clever in his use of space but certainly never had the kind of room for such a thing as laminating. He used an old Hobart planetary mixer and his hands. His workspace was efficiently arranged but small as more than half the bakery was taken up by cake baking, the real money maker, which inherently took up a lot of space for assembly, storage, and display.

Also, this was old school (he apprenticed with a German baker in the 1920s) so no one was autolyzing their doughs. I’m sure he had never heard of this technique by the time he retired in the mid 1980s. Gluten was developed with water, flour, (rests) and work.

He passed long ago but I think he would be amazed by what we now know. So many things were done without knowing the science behind them. I’d give anything for him to be able to make full use of our current knowledge.

I am unspeakably grateful to have spent my summers as a bakery brat. 

julie99nl's picture
julie99nl

I haven't worked in more than a few bakeries as this is a recent career change for me, but I was taught by a classical french baker and many of the things that are popular on social media and food blogs in the foodie bread world are things I was taught are faults. Big gaping holes are a big fault, as is over hydrating the flour. Autolyse was applied to only certain breads, but certainly not across the board. Baguette yes, but an everyday boule blanc, no.  I do understand though, why some things are popular like the broad use of autolyse. When mixing by hand it is a huge help in initial gluten development. I was also taught not to do extreme or long mixing, but folding countless times was also considered an inefficient use of time. But again, this goes hand in hand with mixing in a professional spiral mixer and with a bakers schedule in mind. And I'm not so old as to think there's not a place for some things..to each their own. 😃

BobbyFourFingers's picture
BobbyFourFingers

Very well put. His crumb certainly did not look like the extremes of the current fashion. You can imagine my shock when I got online and saw this new fad everywhere.

I still think he would be amazed. There’s science even behind the “faults”. Knowing why a thing happens helps us improve upon our mistakes and innovate new things.

ds99303's picture
ds99303

People have been baking bread for thousands of years.  I don't think there's anything new to learn about bread that hasn't already been learned by the countless generations that have come before us.  They might have used different terms or maybe they used no term at all for a particular technique, but they knew what they were doing and they didn't overanalyze everything to death like people do today.