The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


whatever868686's picture


Hi guys,

Does autolyse require salt and the leavening agent. Why? 

The site did not mention adding those two but in some books which I read, it was mentioned they should be added. 

metropical's picture

I usually mix the dough without slat and yeast.

Then refridge over night.

Allow to come to room temp the next day.

Add salt and yeast and mix again.

Dunno if that's the right way, but it works quite well for me. 

give me liberty and a 5lb bag of flour

proth5's picture

I have asked this very question of someone who I consider to be a well qualified teacher.

The response was:  it depends on the mixing method to be employed.  If it is a fairly gentle mixing method, you may wish to include salt and leavening as it will be more difficult to incorporate these elements later.  If a mechanical mixer of some sort is employed, in general the leavaning and salt would be added after autolyse.

In any case, all of the water in the recipe needs to be added for autolyse.  This means any type of preferment is added at the autolyse phase.

This is the advice I was given and I tend to follow it with some success.

Hope this helps.

fancypantalons's picture

"This means any type of preferment is added at the autolyse phase."

That's interesting, because this article:

Has the preferment added afterward.  After all, as long as the flour is sufficiently saturated, I don't see why there'd be a problem adding the preferment later.  That said, if the preferment adds a significant water contribution (say, a large volume of 100%+ hydration poolish), the water in the recipe might not be enough to saturate the flour sufficiently for the gluten to develop, so you may have no choice but to add the preferment at the autolyse stage.

proth5's picture

Advice differs so much from person to person.  This is why I only share the fact that I've been told something and that it works (or doesn't) - "for me."

I work mostly with high hydration preferments.  Perhaps this is why I find what was told to me to be valid.

Hope this clarifies my statement.

fancypantalons's picture

Personally, I'd exclude the yeast during the autolyse step.  The whole purpose is to trigger gluten development, and neither the yeast nor the salt will help, there.  Meanwhile, including the yeast will increase the chance that you'll overproof the dough, at which point all your efforts will be for naught.

That said, metropical, is there a reason you don't go for a shorter, same-day autolyse at room temperature?  I've certainly found that gluten develops *much* quicker at room temperature than in the fridge (having done experiments with refridgerated versus room temperature overnight poolishes... the latter turns into a thick, gluey mass, while the former keeps it's pancake-batter-like consistency).  And in this article:

They suggest a simple 20-30 minute autolyse at room temp.

metropical's picture

I tried the 30 min option at room temp a few times.  Did nothing for my bread.  But the overnight refridge definitely gives it more character and for whatever reason requires less yeast added. 1 tsp as compared to 2.5 tsp.


'course, it may be the type of dough.  This is with my multigrain with a grape starter. 

go figure 

give me liberty and a 5lb bag of flour

richawatt's picture

From a video I saw by French baker, Calvel, if your using cake yeast you add it after the autolyse, but if your using dry, you add it before the autolyse to allow it time to wake up.  And as far as the pre ferment, he added that after the autolyse.  He was making baguettes so I dont know if there is a difference with higher hydration doughs , and from what I have read here Calvel is the bee's knaees of bread baking. So his method is what I've been folowing.  If you go on to the CIA's websight...thats the culinary institute of america, not the central (lack) of intelligence agency, you can download the pod cast for just a couple bucks.  It's really cool to watch


Henry's picture


Of the bread people I’ve worked with, only one, a French baker back in 1994 used the autolyse technique. We made seven or maybe eight doughs, the last one being straight dough baguette using autolyse.

As it was the final dough, we could let it rest in the mixing bowl covered with a cloth.

Autolyse is a wonderful tool to have in bread making but it does takes up time and space.

Raymond Calvel is credited with this technique, which gives you the advantage

of a shorter mix time ( more aroma and flavour; better crumb) and greater extensibility… so it’s way easier (as an example)

to shape baguettes.

Basically, you mix your flour and water briefly, then let it rest 20 – 30 minutes.

During this rest time the flour fully hydrates and the gluten starts to develop.

You don’t want to add yeast because it would start to ferment and acidify

the dough.

You don’t want to add preferments because it too, will acidify the dough.

You don’t want to add salt because it will tighten the gluten.

Enzymes that are at work in autolyse (in this case, proteolytic) work best in a more neutral environment. That’s the reasoning to avoid yeast, salt and pre ferments.

Now, if you’re using instant yeast, you add it to autolyse at the beginning

because as richawatt mentioned, it takes a bit of time to get going.

I use autolyse for my French breads at home for a few reasons

but mostly because it saves me kneading and the dough rest period (autolyse) gives me

time to do other things.

Most of the time I get lazy and add ALL the ingredients, including salt

After the initial mix, I autolyse between 30 –60 minutes but it’s usually an hour.

 It’s amazing how much the dough develops

on its own.

A few brief folds, and the dough is done.

I never really tuned into the “no need to knead , or artisan bread in five minutes“ but autolyse would seem to share certain similarities.

Now, at this point, I can continue to process my dough and bake it in a few more hours but if I get busy, I can refrigerate it

for an hour, punch, then bulk ferment and the next day shape, proof and bake

or I can shape it now, retard it overnight to bake the next day at my convenience.


Autolyse…try it, you’ll like it.


 flour water instant yeastflour water instant yeastautolyseautolyse
giyad's picture

This post is extremely old and I don't know if you're going to respond but here goes.  This post was very informative, but kind of unorganized when I read it.  I didn't fully understand the process so I'm hoping you or someone can clarify:

1) You say that you should add nothing but the flour and water together for autolyse.  But then you say that you get lazy and add all the ingredients (including salt!) usually.  Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the autolyse?  If you put the salt an yeast together won't the salt kill the yeast?

2) Does an autolyse recipe not require any kneading after?  Is it bad to knead something that was put through autolyse?

3) If using active dry yeast, do I just add it without activating it (don't dissolve in water and sugar for 5 minutes) after the autolyse, but before the salt?

4) Let me run through the steps I think are correct and you can correct me if I'm wrong:

  1. Flour and water added together and mixed, then leave aside for 20min-1hour (this is the autolyse), if using instant yeast add it in this step with the flour and water
  2. Add active-dry yeast (and optional sugar) when autolyse is done, and mix
  3. Add salt after mixing in the yeast, and mix
  4. Add oil or other fats, mix
  5. Add as much flour as needed

Thanks, sorry very new to baking and trying to learn as much as possible without wasting too much dough

proth5's picture

the original and longtime posters on this thread - aside from overcoming my dyslexia on the name Calvel - I still stand where I did. 

Autolyse is a mixing technique.  You have to sufficiently hydrate the flour so that gluten development can occur,  If this mean you add a pre ferment (because the pre ferment contains a large percentage of liquid from the final dough) then that is what you do.

The purpose of an autolyse is to reduce the time that you spend on mechanical mixing.  It is a technique "rediscovered" by a professional baker and taught to professional bakers - who generally use mechanical mixers and who care very much about the time and space their mix requires.  By reducing mix time, you reduce the oxidation of the flour.  This is especially important in doughs without fats or other flavorings.  So, an autolyse is part of the mix.  You let the flour hydrate and then you mix or knead to complete the gluten development.

Although it can be employed with all types of doughs, it is of greatest advantage in lean doughs.

What surprises me, a bit, is that after four years and countless hours of baking and learning - the fundamentals of what I said in 2008 hold.

I still use the autolyse method two ways.  When I mix by hand - I add the salt and the yeast together (together - yes!) at the beginning of the mix (along with my liquid pre ferment).   When I use a mechanical mixer, I mix the flour, water (and liquid pre ferment) together, allow that mixture to autolyse and then add the salt and the yeast (together - yes!) and then procede with the rest of the mix.  There is very little difference between the two in the final result.  It is a matter of how carefully I run my mix and later my fermentation.  This is why experienced bakers can use this method and adapt it to their circumstances.

giyad, let me address your list above with a general comment.  This comment is  meant with all good intentions because I have been reading your other posts and you seem confused. It is not possible for me to respond to what you have asked and implied without writing a small book, so that is why I haven't tried.  This is forum for amateur bakers - the only review of the answers comes from the voluntary contributions of other TFL members.  Many things on this site are true and useful - others are "folklore" - and many are somewhere in between.  They are not organized in any particular way and posts may wander from one topic to the next.  You need to find a good text that deals in bread making (I like Hamelman's "Bread..." - most consider it to be too intense for beginners and recommend the DiMuzio book, or Reinhart's books - all have their virtues) and read it.  Get some foundation.  Bake some bread. Then ask questions here to learn incremental amounts.  This will be the most productive way of learning without making too many mistakes.

I really hope this helps, but I think taking an organized approach by reading a good text (even the "Handbook" at the top of these pages) would be your best start.

Happy Baking!


giyad's picture

Thanks so much proth5!  I'll definitely pick up a book, actually thats how I got into baking to begin with, a specific book called Man'oushe by Barbara Massaad. 

I like to ask those noob questions though because not only do I wonder myself, and sometimes you can't find the answer straight away in a book or online, but I think its a good reference for anyone else who may have the same questions.  I actually have been experimenting a lot with dough and ingredients, alot of my questions I've answered myself after a few trial and errors even but its nice to get other bakers perspectives on things, especially from people with many years of experience (I've only been doing this for 3 months).

I'll definitely look into your book recommendations though, thanks and also thanks for that detailed answer!

proth5's picture

Well, this thread sent me back to Clavel.  When you look at his formulas in the book "Le Gout du Pain" he is somewhat inconsistent as to when just what is added to the autolyse.  Sometimes salt is held back - sometimes not. 

Professor Clavel was a distinguished baker and I'm sure he would adapt as situations arose.

However I cannot help but recall one of my teachers (who, I believe, had more than a passing knowledge of Professor Clavel's work) chuckling incredulously “And you don’t add the poolish in to the autolyse?  Now I’ve heard it all.”  There are a few moments in life burned into my brain.  That moment is one of them.

So, the method works for me.  The more I learn about this craft of bread baking the more I subscribe to the saying “Chacun á son gout!”

Henry's picture



I know what you’re saying.

Jeff Yankellow, member of Team USA 2005 made a traditional

baguette recipe that I still look at once in a while just because it’s so…

totally next planet.

Flour, water, salt yeast; okay, but

then JY includes a liquid levain, sponge and poolish all fermented


On top of that, part of the dough is used as 12-hour autolyse.

It all eventually gets thrown into a bowl, mixed briefly and allowed

a rest of 15 minutes ( autolyse again) then the salt and yeast are added.

With all this fermenting going on, talk about room for error or

dough complications waiting to happen.

This guy is such a pro though; I don’t think it fazed him for a second.

But then again, he is world class.

Gold medal, best bread in the World, 2005.

Pretty nice feather to have in your cap.


sannimiti's picture

because my dough for j hamelmans 5 grain sourdough rye is just "autolysing" or so i think. I did add the soaker and the sourdough because of laziness, i didn't add the yeast, though. i will dissolve the instant dry yeast in a tbsp. or so of water, add it (and the honey) and not be scared of the mess. but does any of you have and idea of adding other ingredients, such as sugar, fat or so? or is this the only way?

fancypantalons's picture

First off, don't dissolve the instant yeast!  It hates it went you do that. :)  Just add the yeast directly to the dough and kneed it in.  I've used this same technique for salt, and it works just fine (I assume the same is true of sugar).  I've never tried to add fat into a recipe after the fact, though.

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

"To each his own taste" is so true.  I was just reading in a bread book (I've looked over too many lately for me to right now identify which one -- perhaps Pizza in 5 Minutes a Day?) that instant yeast, although formulated to work without dissolving in water first, works even better when allowed to hydrate in water a couple of minutes.  I usually don't, sometimes do.... but it does make sense to me : )

martycee's picture

Hi everyone. I have just joined the site as a new bread maker that has been searching for improvement in my loaves for some time now. My loaves have been 'doughy', 'cakey' with a dull flavour or misshapen from uneven rising and oven spring. I've gained knowledge of hydration percentages by reading the valuable information here as well. It's been a frustrating journey but I turned a corner this week.

Due to a lack of joint strength I am unable to knead dough by hand so use a bread machine. Perhaps the greatest revelation however has been experimenting and adapting the 'autolyse' method. So far I have tried delayed salt and yeast, then just delaying the yeast. The best result to date was only delaying yeast.

Using this recipe:

500g bread flour

1 tbls sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp instant yeast

25g butter

300ml water


I added water, butter, sugar, salt, then flour on top of the dry ingredients in the bread machine. I chose the dough setting and started the machine keeping watch until the mixture had formed a shaggy mass. I stopped the machine and let the mixture stand for 30mins. I then added the yeast and re-started the machine on its dough program. At the point when the machine pauses before its first rise, I removed the dough from the machine, shaped into a ball and allowed to rise in a greased bowl.

When doubled I punched down, reshaped on a floured surface and transferred to a loaf tin to prove. Once risen above the tin about 1/2-3/4" it went into a 180-190 deg C (fan) pre-heated oven with a water bath at the bottom for humidity, baked for around 30-35mins.

The result was an oven spring better than anything I've had before, with a lovely even shape. But the biggest revelation was the colour, taste and texture, way better than anything I've made before. The only two things I changed from my previous method were resting the dough mass at the beginning and using steam in the oven.

I understand the principle of delaying salt at the resting stage to improve flour hydration, but I didn't think the salt incorporated into the dough very well and I was also worried about the proximity of the yeast and salt at that stage. At the end of the day incorporating the salt at the start doesn't seem to have affected the result other than a wonderful improvement on my earlier efforts.

I would love to receive any comments from all the experts out there.

Cheers all,

printemps2014's picture

Just read this series of articles by the baker Didier Rosada. In fact, it's one or two articles split up into multiple pages. It gives more info on basic topics like autolyse that you may find interesting. In his discussion on autolyse he mentions why you would wait to add salt and/or instant yeast.

I'm linking part I, but all of the parts are on that website, you may have to search a bit for them though.

martycee's picture

That was really very informative, thank you. I think that I'm pretty close to emulating the methods described save for the precise moment to add the salt and yeast. I'm going to try again delaying the salt and maybe adding the dried instant yeast at the beginning of the autolyse as suggested by him since he says that the yeast will mostly only re-hydrate during this period rather than fermenting away too quickly. I must admit though I didn't notice any problem last time incorporating the yeast at the end of the autolyse in my bread machine. We'll see. Meantime I'm still enjoying the remainder of my last loaf lightly toasted with butter. The crumb texture and flavour is so superior compared to my previous efforts,

ghazi's picture

Just curious to hear opinions. If ANY dough is autolysed (water/flour) with just the bare minimum water 50% and left for a very long time in fridge 1 week + (im guessing room temp 70F might be pushing it?) Then adding rest of water during mixing.

Will this improve flavor, since dough is hydrating slowly. Can this be a good thing?

I will try it at some stage, just thought id ask around if anybody has input



HPoirot's picture

Calvel or Clavel? I'm a little amused by how his name keeps changing.

I don't really have an input to ghazi's question regarding the 1 week autolyse, cos i doubt i can ever spare the fridge space for that long.

As for marty, i recommend mixing by hand by way of stretch & fold instead of traditional kneading. It really requires minimal strength.

martycee's picture

In doing some research into the S&F technique there seems to be a wide variation in resting times from 10 minutes to 45 minutes (and longer) between S&F sessions. Can you shed any light on this bearing in mind that I have probably no more than a three hour window in total between mixing and removal from the oven. Also since the yeast is obviously active during extended rest periods and is there a danger of exhausting the yeast before a final prove.

Made a loaf yesterday autolysed for 30 mins with only flour and water. Other ingredients then added to the bread machine pan for twenty minutes on the dough program then placed in a bowl to rise, punched down and transferred to a loaf pan as normal. 

I'm still experimenting with proving. The loaf pictured is slightly under-risen I think compered to my previous loaf that had over-risen and become heavily misshapen in the oven. But in ALL cases the taste of the autolysed bread is unsurpassed. The loaf is devoured and barely lasts two days.