The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Autolyse & Hydration

DanAyo's picture

Autolyse & Hydration

Looking for the experience of others and also opinions.

The goal is developing more extensibility and at the same time maintaining dough strength. In other words a dough that is less slack as possible while still being able to easily stretch.

  1. Increase hydration
  2. Autolyse longer and keep the original hydration

Pros and Cons on both approached appreciated. Also willing to consider other options not mentioned.

Thanks in Advance


BaniJP's picture

I believe when you change hydration, you are also changing proofing times because of different water activity. Wetter doughs proof faster, dryer doughs slower.

I would simply either develop the gluten more during mixing (= mix longer). If you wanna maintain a purer flavor (though I haven't noticed really any difference), yes - do an autolyse, maybe longer. 

In the end what matters is the strength of your gluten network and you can affect that through:
- hydration
- mixing time
- folds during bulk-fermentation
- using a pre-ferment or not

Start off by mixing a little longer, it takes some loaves to find the sweet spot between extensibility and elasticity.

Alan.H's picture

Ever since Trevor Wilson published his 50% wholewheat sourdough method which includes an overnight "pre-dough" I have been sold on  the benefits of a long autolyse, in particular when a large pecentage of whole grain is used. (Trevor calls it pre-dough rather than autolyse becase the salt is added when the flour and water are mixed which means that technically it is not an autolyse).

In his own words "The long exposure to water helps to fully develop the gluten with minimal kneading, and creates a more extensible dough better capable of achieving an open crumb."

I certainly find the dough so much easier and less sticky to handle and so I now try to fit in a long autolyse for every bake. The increased extensibility is really noticeable and for me there seems to be no problem with dough slackness.