The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

when autolyses kill

Pablo's picture
Pablo

when autolyses kill

Today I mixed an autolyse and it was a little dry (467g unbleached white AP flour, 200g water), and I got to talking and left it for an hour instead of the usual 1/2 hour.  The dryness of the autolyse was a result of having a poolish already and going for a specific hydration - that's the flour and water I had to work with.  Anyway, what happened was that the autolyse became like a resilient putty.  I couldn't get it to blend into the poolish.  What a disaster.  I tried putting the whole lumpy mess on the mixer with water and a paddle to make it into a solution and then add enough flour again to get back to my hydration level.  I never got beyond pea sized lumps of autolyse distributed throughout the dough.  I don't want to throw it away, I'm going to do some stretch and fold and hope for the best, but this was a learning experience for me. 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

It is not a noun.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Well that really is the main thing, isn't it?

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

....sort of cold and I didn't mean it that way.  I was just trying to figure out what you meant by your autolyse being a thing.  I must be more tired than I thought.  I know all the words used in baking bread these days, most of them from the French I think, but I very seldom use them.  The main thing is the bread and the making of it, and the more we make it the better it is for all of us.  Now I think I'll go to bed.  Good night, and good baking!

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I actually appreciate being corrected about the grammer.  I will be more coherent in the future. I was hoping for an "and", followed by advice or sympathy. I am a very new artisan bread baker.

Do you have a word for the thing that is the water and flour that are mixed together and sitting for 1/2 an hour while the gluten begins to develop?  That glob of stuff is what I had my problem with today.  Ordinarily I mix this glob a bit wetter than it was today and I ordinarily only let it sit for 1/2 an hour before mixing it with the poolish and salt and yeast to create the final dough.  Today it simply would not incorporate with the poolish no matter what I did.  I went so far as to add another 292 grams of water and mix the whole mess with a paddle in an attempt to get it all to become uniformly liquidish.  No go.  I had to add another 400 grams of flour to recreate the original 73% hydration, although in the end I still had lentil-sized lumps.  I went ahead with the fermentations and baked it and it's one of the prettiest loaves I've done.  The little lumps aren't too noticeable, actually.  The biggest problem was that I didn't add additional salt, so it's a bit bland.  It was somewhat tramatic and I turned to thefreshloaf for comfort and advice. Sorry that I got all huffy.  

Paul

 autolyse

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

....your starter?  I get confused about poolishes and bigas plus starters.  What I do, generally, when I'm making sourdough, is to mix the starter with water and flour the night before I'm going to make bread, leave it till the morning (covered), put a cup or so back into the container for the fridge and proceed from there.  So when you referred to the 'autolyse' being added to a poolish, I didn't understand.  I still don't understand.  You could call your 'glob' a sponge.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

This batch was yeasted, it was not a sourdough.  There was a poolish and there was an autolysed flour mixture.  I believe the pooish could be called a sponge.  The "glob" was the remaining flour and water from the recipe mixed together to begin the gluten formation process just before forming the dough.  The glob was mixed with the poolish along with salt and yeast to form the dough.  It's amazing how confusing things can become!  I hope that explains what I was trying to explain from the beginning.  :-)

Janedo's picture
Janedo

in French it's a noun. It's a scientific term meaning the destruction  of cells using their own enzymes or in psychiatry it means "suicide". So, in baking, I suppose Calvel took to to mean that just letting water and flour sit together, the enzymatic action begins with no stirring or kneading and the gluten begins to develop.

That said, good to know Paul because we are all in to experimenting and that could happen to many people.  

Jane 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Mini O

Pablo's picture
Pablo

"poolish", "biga" even "sponge" these words have a bit of music.  "Autolysized flour", very little to my ear, although it's certainly accurate and would avoid my misuse of "autolyse".  I'd love to find a pithy little word.  "Mix the poolish and the xxx together".  I get the idea from various postings that this technique is fairly new.  Maybe it just hasn't been around long enough to have become vernacularlized into a single word.

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Paul,

To be honest, I've never really seen a problem with it. Calvel, who invented the idea for baking uses it as a noun. In his formulas it's a noun. It may seem strange to be a noun, but it's just that way. So, when I read your post, it seemed perfectly normal. It isn't a new method, unless a publication about it in 1990 is new. Americans simply adopted the French term, but in English it's autolysis.

It's a nice word... you just need to adopt it so that it becomes familiar to you. :-)

Jane 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi Jane,

Thanks a lot for that info.  I think that in terms of language, 1990 is pretty new.  On the other hand all these computer terms have entered the language pretty quickly, e.g. "google" as a verb.  

It sounds like you're saying that "autolyse" can be used as a noun and that it's a French-based bread technology term.  I didn't quite understand the "autolysis" part - would that be a noun in English?  

I'm an American ex-pat myself, 3+ years in Canada to date.  All the Spanish I learned in California and Colorado doesn't help with the seasonal Quebecois fruit pickers hitchhiking here in the Okanagan.  I feel obligated to try to learn some French now to be a good semi-bilinguial Canadian.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

And we've got Mexicans in Quebec.  Je ne comprends pas!

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Go figure!  I just gave one a ride today.  He gave me some peaches.  I tried to repeat his pronunciation of "pain" and "pain au levain" but not successfully.  He got a good laugh out of it anyway.

josordoni's picture
josordoni

Poolish is only a made up name by the French for a process created by Polish bakers, that we have all adopted.

I like autolyse as a noun for "the initial soaking mix of the flour and liquid".  It is simple shorthand for something , if you know about the process you will know what the word means in context.

 If we use it in enough it will be a valid word, I like the fact that language is not concrete, it is a fluid art form.

ejm's picture
ejm

According to Merriam Webster, autolyse (also autolyze) is "to undergo autolysis". And autolysis?

autolysis […] breakdown of all or part of a cell or tissue by self-produced enzymes — called also self-digestion

As for introducing the autolyzed dough to the poolish, Pablo, you might have had better luck mixing them together by hand. I'm guessing that "frisage" might have done the trick. I first learned about "frisage" here at the Fresh Loaf (thank you Loafians*) in the comment "Kneading", in the thread entitled "Kneading - by hand or machine?" and in bwraith's blog entry entitled "A Hamburger Bun"

bwraith wrote:

[...]frisage [...] is to press the mass of ingredients out along the counter with the heel of your hand. It's just an efficient way to break up and integrate all the ingredients quickly.[...]

The times that I've used frisage  - when I've allowed only partially mixed dough to autolyse for too long, I've used my fingers rather than the heel of my hand to smear the dough across the board to remove any dried flour lumps. It works pretty well.

Frisage is very similar to creaming sugar into butter, except that it's on the board rather than in the bowl. There is a very good video of Danielle Forestier using the technique (she uses the heel of her hand) on the PBS site "Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs". Click on "French Baguette, Part 1" at http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/eaters/artisan.html to see.

-Elizabeth

 

* Mark, what an excellent term "Loafians" is. At least, I think I'm correct that Mark coined it.

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Thanks Elizabeth,

I think you're right that I probably could have avoided the whole issue if I had hand-kneaded the dough.  I've been trying various techniques and yesterday was a "knead by machine" day.   Once it had been combined in the mixer into that mess I didn't feel competent to work it on the counter.  It was also the first time that I had tried creating a multi-loaf dough.  Up until then I had just done single loaves at a shot.

Merriam Webster might not be up to speed on the latest bread-baking terminology.  Maybe 'autolyse" will get in there as a noun some day.

Thanks for the info and the links.

Paul

ejm's picture
ejm

While Merriam Webster may not be addressing bread making, it does explain what exactly is happening when the dough is autolysing. It's basically digesting itself. 

To carry the analogy too far (why not? :-D),  if all the things in the bowl haven't be chewed properly, not all of the contents will be digested. Some will be left. 

Seriously though, it sounds like the autolyzed dough you had was similar in consistency to a biga. Most of my books say to break those up before adding them to the rest of a dough mixture - as has already been mentioned here.

It's my impression that for bread-making, autolysis should not be done if there is salt or yeast in the autolyze - but I've never let that stop me... rules are made to be broken.

-Elizabeth 

(I have to say that it's VERY hard for me to use "autolyze" as a noun. It reminds me of the relatively new verb "efforting" as in "I'll effort to break up the autolyze so that it can be fully mixed into the rest of the dough".  ) 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

The result of autolysis would be the autolate?  or autolyte?

Grammatical rules are not made to be broken.  A line has got to be drawn somewhere! 

:-Paul

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Pablo,  Please refrain from allowing your dough to commit autolyze.  Dead dough is a very sad thing...,

Sorry, I couldn't help myself...,

Wild-Yeast

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Autolysable or capable of being Autolyzised.  I autolyse almost every dough I mix... Autolysis makes my bread Autolysisablydelicious. 

Makes me want to break into song...

I like the mountains

of dough like rolling hills.

I like the oceans

of autolysizing dough.

I like the firelight

with ovens baking bread.

Bum di ada, Bum di ada, Bum di ada, Bum di ada ...

-Mini O

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

After I've given my bread dough a few kneads to tidy it up, I upend the bowl over it, tell it to "autolyse yourself", and go away for 20 or 30 minutes.  I use the words too!  I'm not against them; I live with my sister, an English teacher, and we were brought up by parents who surrounded us with books and who loved words, and when I'm tired, I'm bothered by the misuse of words. That's all.  I love bread and bread-making and I've been known to "proof" yeast meself, so there ye go.  Peace through bread.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I too have come to love words and the way in which they can express whole situations so elegantly.  With the financial mess coming down around our ankles it's time for some really magnificent descriptors.  The two that top my list currently are Defunct and Deep Funk.  They should be pronounced with a very French nasal "N".  Works great when you smack your finger, stub your toe or something untoward clobbers the current bread build...,

Wild-Yeast

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Paul, you do not have to autolyse 100% of your flour when using this technique. It's nice if the recipe allows it, but if it doesn't, as was your case, simply withhold the amount of flour necessary to form autolysable mixture. Personally I would not go below 50% hydration. Then whatever flour remains add it when you mix the final dough.

Rudy

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Thanks, I'll add that to my knowledge base.  I just picked up the Peter Reinhart books today and will be pouring over them.  It was very much a learning experience for me.  We've just about finished off the bread from this debacle and I can move on to the next loaf.

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Paul, when you added the stiff autolyse to the softer regular dough, did you by chance just plop the whole thing in and start the mixer? If you did, this could have been part of the problem. Incorporating the two may have happened too fast.

I made some bread a while back, can't recall which one, and the instructions said to add small amounts of the autolyse - or maybe it was poolish? - which was somewhat thick, to the bowl while the regular dough was mixing at rather low speed. I broke up the autolyse into maybe 8 or 10 pieces, adding each one ~10 seconds apart to let each small chunk incorporate into the loose, wetter dough.

Of course, if that's what you did too, then this info isn't any help.

--------
Paul

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Yeah, that would have done it.  Had my brain been functioning I might have remembered that myself.  About 3 weeks ago I started on this whole artisan bread thing by trying to create a ciabatta at home.  The recipe required making a biga that was quite dry and then, as you say, chopping it into chunks and incorporating it gradually.

This time I did exactly as you decribe, I plopped everything into the mixer bowl and turned it on.  Mistake!  Given that I was into using the mixer that day, I think I should have put the wet poolish in the bowl and gradually added chunks of the dry (sorry Elizabeth) autolyse (flour and water mixture sans salt and yeast) that had solldified.

Now if it will just take root somewhere in my brain the next time I face a similar situation...

Paul

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

OK I added some terminology definitions to my blog page here on TFL. Hopefully I got most of it correct, but if not let me know.

Rudy

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and we will see what happens!  Rudy, I decided to coin a word sploosh•ga

SPonge+pOOLisH+biGA   (OOL is backwards)

Mini O

Pablo's picture
Pablo

splooshga, splashga, Mousekateer...

bread dough on my kitchen gear!

josordoni's picture
josordoni

Splooshga... Great word!  But you'll have to define it for it to go in the dictionary, MO - I mean, strictly speaking, a Poolish has salt, a Biga doesn't as far as I can see...or the other way around...and as for a sponge...

 So did you make a sploosh or a spoiga?

 :D

 

ejm's picture
ejm

I don't think either a Poolish or a Biga have salt. The difference is the hydration, isn't it?

MiniO, please stop making me laugh. (Good thing I WASN'T drinking any coffee while reading these replies.)

Splooshga sounds like it would have a very high hydration - even higher than the poolish that is in its makeup. How about "Sponoolga"  (sponge+poolish+biga) instead?

-Eeheeheeeelizabeth

josordoni's picture
josordoni

Oh don't ask me LOL  Everything I read seems to say something different.  I think I will just go back to a Splooshga as this seems to encompass all we could ever need!

 

Except a sourdough starter of course... so should we have a

Splooshgavain?

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Sounds French

josordoni's picture
josordoni

Maybe - or perhaps Flemish?