The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why is salt turning my dough to a gooey mess after autolyse?

bread lover's picture
bread lover

Why is salt turning my dough to a gooey mess after autolyse?

I used to add salt before resting the dough and it came out well, not I tried adding it after the rest and the dough isn't coming out right.  I mix the flour/water/yeast mixture only for a couple minutes, no more than 5, then I let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  After I let it rest, it is very strong, enough so I can window pane with it.  Then I turn back on my mixer, and start adding the salt, all of a sudden the entire dough turns into a very wet puddle of goo, kind of like a thick pancake batter.  It takes a lot of flour to get it to come back to a dough, I know I am making my bread dry by doing this.  I hope I am not the only one this is happening to, can someone tell me what is going on?

Russ's picture
Russ

I don't have your answer, only a question:


If adding the salt first worked well for you and adding it after the rest doesn't, why not just go back to the way that worked? I've always added salt right at the beginning myself, so couldn't tell you anything about the other method.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Bread lover,


Can you give us the quanties (volume or mass) of the ingredients to help the  learned folk here with the analysis of your problem?  I'm sure a number of people will then zero in and give you the soluion.  I always add the salt after the autolyse with no issues, so I'm confident there will be a logical reason.


Cheers...

bread lover's picture
bread lover

 


 


1 tbsp yeast


3 pounds water


3 pounds 12 oz bread flour


4 tbsp salt


3 tbsp olive oil


 


I know it has a very high hydration, it is a flat bread, but I have had problems with other recipes I have used


 


 


Wow, salt deflocculated the dough!

Interesting....   what's in the salt?

 

I used table salt for this recipe, but I have used kosher, as well as fine ground sea salt.

 

I don't have your answer,

I don't have your answer, only a question:

If adding the salt first worked well for you and adding it after the rest doesn't, why not just go back to the way that worked?


Russ, I wanted to try this method since it works for others, but since I can't get it to work, I am determined to keep trying to figure out what I am doing wrong, then I would like to compare final products.  it is getting fustrating though


Salt added late in the pre-bulk fermentation process

I have added salt after the mixing process, just before bulk fermentation, as Clayton calls for and it caused the dough to begin seperating.  I kept kneading it for about 5 minutes until the salt was fully incorporated into the dough and the dough was smooth again.


 


holds99 I believe the separating is what I am talking about, it turns from a tight tacky, but not sticky mass with great elasticity, to a very wet blob,  but I knead the bread and it doesn't want to come back together again, I end up having to add a lot more flour to get a dough again.

holds99's picture
holds99

"...but I knead the bread and it doesn't want to come back together again, I end up having to add a lot more flour to get a dough again."  It's going to take at least 5-7 minutes of active kneading (slap and fold, push and fold type kneading) by hand or 5-6 minutes in the K.A. using the dough hook attachment, stopping it and scraping the dough hook each minute or so. 


You really don't want to be adding "a lot more flour" to an already properly hydrated dough or you run the risk of ending up with a loaf resembling a brick.


FWIW.  Find a recipe (Reinhart, Hammelman, Glezer, etc.) where there are references, writeups and photos of that recipe here on TFL and give that a try.  That way you have a benchmark as to the process and what the results should look like.  Also, carefully read the first 92 pages of Hamelman's book "Bread".  Then re-read it, making sure you thoroughly understand the 11 steps of baking.  It's a sysematic process consisting of 11 integrated steps.


Good luck with your baking adventures,


Howard

Cooky's picture
Cooky

I have to agree that four tablespoons seems like a huge amount for that quantity of flour. My understanding is that the rule of thumb is one to one-and-a-half TEASPOONS per pound of flour. Try going with two tablespoons, and if you still want saltier flavor, try coarse salt as a topping for the crust.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Interesting....   what's in the salt?


Edit:  Thanks, now that I've seen your hydration and recipe, it's beginning to make sense. You're having a chemical reation, salt is breaking down surface tension. 


"I used table salt for this recipe, but I have used kosher, as well as fine ground sea salt."


Each has a different density.  Did they all react the same?    If the salt is measured by weight and not volume, the salt will match the flour in the recipe.  1.8 - 2 % of flour weight.


I think there is way too much salt in the recipe, with table salt it should be less.  Could even take 2 tablespoons but not 4 tablespoons!  Cut the salt in half and see if the problem remains the same.  Try cutting the salt with some flour before adding.


 


Mini

holds99's picture
holds99

There are some recipes/formulas (a few of Bernard Clayton's come to mind) where the salt is added after the dough has been developed, just before bulk fermentation.  Salt retards/slows the action of the leavening.  My understanding of the theory is to keep the salt out of the dough until the last minute so that the leavening in the dough has fully kicked in.


I have added salt after the mixing process, just before bulk fermentation, as Clayton calls for and it caused the dough to begin seperating.  I kept kneading it for about 5 minutes until the salt was fully incorporated into the dough and the dough was smooth again.  I just did it again the other evening (added the salt after initial mixing of the final dough) and it initially seperated a bit then after 4-5 minutes in the Kitchen Aid on low speed it came back together.  Then I dumped it onto the counter and did about a minute of hand kneading just to get the feel for the hydration level and make sure the dough was thoroughly mixed before bulk fermentation.


Howard

Atropine's picture
Atropine

The only thing I can think of is that that is a great deal of salt added all at once in one area of the dough, which would greatly change the..."osmolarity" of the dough.  Since salt draws water, you are probably seeing the results of a large amount of large crystals of salt pulling water out of the dough.  Even though that might be the right amount of salt for the WHOLE dough, once you start the reaction of movement of water molecules in the one part of the dough that the salt is worked into first, it might be like a dominoe cascade of reaction to the loss of water throughout the dough.


Perhaps your dough has an excellent balance of hydration BEFORE the salt, and that much straight salt grains act as massive vacuum cleaners, pulling the water out of the dough in greater quantities.  Perhaps by mixing the salt in WITH the dough, it is incorporated enough not to cause such a massive imbalance. 


I know what I am trying to say, but not doing a good job....let me try again


Ok, if you take that much salt and work it through dry flour, or even dump it in with the flour then mix it with the water and yeast, it will have the chance to disperse and start to dissolve.  If you think of every grain of salt as a "sponge" that can draw water, you can see how if the salt is all through the dough, as it is when you mixing it in with the rest of the ingredients, having all those little "sponges" separated by water and flour will keep the "sponge effects" small and localized.  The chemical reaction of osmosis (drawing water) will be spread out and even in the dough.


However, when the dough is already at "stasis", each bit of flour has absorbed its water, adding all that salt in one big glump on the top of the dough MIGHT be starting a massive cascade of water reliquishment in the perfectly hydrated and balanced dough.  As some hydrated flour loses its water to the salt, the water in the neighboring flour will start to move as well.


OR, if the dough is highly hydrated, it might be drawing the loose water molecules together, causing the "gloppiness".  The "over hydration", the excess water in the dough, was held in the matrix of gluten chains like a mist on a net.  But when you add the salt, perhaps that change in the osmolarity is enough to break that balance, and the "mist" becomes a "puddle". Therefore it would take a great deal more flour to absorb the free water that was released from the "gluten net", which might be what you are seeing when you need to add so much flour and the dough does not seem to hold itself together.  I would be afraid of ending up with a brick.


Salt is VERY...active--it causes things to happen.  I do not know what effect salt has on gluten strings themselves, but I know that it does have a LARGE effect on water movement.  Also, bread dough can be very tricky--a little extra water or a little extra flour can suddenly change the characteristics of the dough.  It would stand to reason that salt would too.


I can see that this latent salt adding might work sometimes in a lower hydration bread or maybe would work if added very slowly, or if the salt percentage was lower. 


That is, of course, if what I am saying is accurate.  I do not know for sure, it just seemed reasonable.


Maybe try adding just a LITTLE bit at a time and see if you still get "glop".  You might have to add, seriously, the tiniest bit just sprinkled on the top then mixed in quickly in order not to have the chemistry in the dough too far imbalanced.  Perhaps grinding the salt to a powder would be better....or it might not, not sure about that one.


Let me know if this was confusing!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

But I could follow your theory, and I think you're right on! 


I also found out this once happed to Susan of San Diego!  It was also a high hydration dough and she said that when she added the salt, it was like water was coming out of the dough.  She said she just continued to knead the dough in the bowl until it all went back together again.


 


 

Atropine's picture
Atropine

Thank you Mini Oven!  I was afraid that I was too confusing in that post.  Thanks!

Eli's picture
Eli

As I understood it, Autolyse. Autolyse is to assist in gluten development not hindered by yeast, salt or sugar. I may very well be incorrect but I don't add anything to my flour during autolyse but water.


Try waiting on your other ingredients and autolyse = water and flour. And please share your findings.


 


Eli


 


www.elisfoods.wordpress.com


 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Eli - you're spot on.  Nothing but flour and water in the autolyse.  The only exception is when using a liquid levain as a pre-ferment (mine is 125% hydration) - if I don't add this to the autoylse there's not enough water to hydrate the flour properly.


My guess on Bread Lovers problem is over mixing - mixes up to 5 minutes - I suggest Bread Lover mixes only enough to incorporate the flour and water - autolyse for 30 to 60 minutes and then add the salt (no more than 2%) and then mix for no more and 2 and a 1/2 minutes.  The bulk ferment method will depend on recipe (folding or not and how often).


Gavin.

holds99's picture
holds99

Gavin,


With all due respect, there are recipes/formulas where the salt is held back and introduced near the end of the final mix...and kneading is longer than 2 1/2 minutes.  Once such recipe is Bernard Clayton's Pain de Compagne Madame Doz in his book "New Complete Book of Breads" (page 249).  Having made this bread a numerous times, Mr. Clayton calls for an 8 minute knead of the final dough, then the additon of salt followed by another 8 minutes of kneading.  


Rather than just adding the salt directly to the dough surface and trying to incorporate it into the dough, through kneading, his method for incorporating the salt into the final dough in this recipe calls for 4 teaspoons of salt dissolved in 4 teaspoons of water.  The salt water mixture is placed in a well in the center of the dough, folding and vigorously kneaded for 8 minutes.  Dissolving the salt into water makes it easier to incorporate it into the final dough mixture.   Incidentally, this recipe produces an excellent Pain de Compagne.


Howard

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Howard,


I yield to your greater experience.  I don't know of that method (yet), I guess there's many many methods to explore.  Do you think that I was off with my analysis?  I assumed a mixer being used not by hand.


Gavin

holds99's picture
holds99

There's just sooo many different breads and nearly as many techniques, that it's really hard to exclude any of them.  When I first watched Richard Bertinet mix dough his way, using only ingredients, a bowl and dough scaper to do his initial mix, then emptying out  a really sticky glob of dough onto the work surface and doing his slap and fold method, it was like watching a magician do an illusion.  Within 5 minutes he had a beautifully finished dough with great elasticity and extensibility.  In case you haven't seen Mr. Berinet "in action" below is a link.  You may have to copy and paste the link into your URL box at the top of your screen to get there.  I've been having trouble copying links and pasting them into posts.  It may be this new version of Internet Explorer, which I recently installed.  Anyway, this is the link to Richard Bertinet's video on Gourmet's website.  He's making sweet dough but the same technique works for just about any dough.  It's definitely worth watching.


http://www,gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough


Also, I remember when I first started shaping rolls and thought I had the absolute right way to do it.  Then I got a note/post from Mark Sinclair explaining the way he did it (followed up with a video that Mark made, available on his Backhome Bakery home page)...and his way was far and away better than the way I was doing it.  So, I now do it his way with far better results. 


Thanks and hang in there,


Howard


 

Russ's picture
Russ

Howard,


I love that video, thanks for posting it. I found it some time ago from a link you posted in another thread. I've been meaning to thank you for posting it for awhile now. It looks like you accidentally put a comma in the link. Here's a working link.


By the way, regarding your browser problems, have you tried Firefox? I find it much less annoying than Internet Explorer. It is also generally less vulnerable to virus and adware problems. Get it here, if you're interested.


Russ

holds99's picture
holds99

I love watching that video of Bertinet doing his magic dough show.  When I win the lottery I'm heading for Bath, England and his baking school :>) 


I tried to copy and paste the Bertinet link but couldn't get copy and paste to work, so I ended up having to type in the link and got it wrong.  Thanks so much for correcting my error and providing the "working link".


My wife, Charlene, is using Firefox on her computer and likes it very much,  I think I'll switch over and forget about I.E.  I'm really having problems with it.  It's a new release and it acts like a beta version that M.S. hasn't completely de-bugged yet.  Having spent my career in the commercial software business I don't have high regard for Microsoft's software and their pricing practices, in my opinion, are predatory, considering they effectively have a monopoly courtesy of the current administration.  But, I'll save that for another time.


Hang in there and thanks again,


Howard

mcs's picture
mcs

According to the MacDaddy of autolyse (that would be Calvel, not me), instant yeast is also included in the autolyse since it takes a much longer time than fresh yeast to become hydrated/incorporated.
Although technically a bulk ferment and not an autolyse, the Anis baguette method introduced to TFL by Janedo, has a 21 hour bulk ferment with 3 folds within the first hour (like an autolyse) and it includes all of the ingredients mixed from the beginning.  Might be a good place for bread lover to start if interested in a nice somewhat high hydration dough.


-Mark

Eli's picture
Eli

I somewhat took mine from the Red Hen baking site. You can find it under the


"Don't overwork...dough", http://www.redhenbaking.com/methods.html. Maybe it depends upon the formula your are using. I pretty much use it for sourdough and most of the levain breads I make.


 edit: I am not trying to repudiate anyone or be difficult as I haven't read Calvel's directly. Every reference I have found to it has specified only flour and water. Reason one, when I was researching the term in the beginning I remember reading most of what I have cited. Just food for thought. Thanks for your patience.


 


http://www.slashfood.com/2008/08/21/baking-terms-defined-autolyse 


Eli


 


www.elisfoods.wordpress.com


 

mcs's picture
mcs

I believe the reason why it's almost always listed as 'just flour and water' is because when the term was coined they weren't using instant yeast.  Afterwards, Calvel adapted the technique knowing that people were also using instant instead of fresh yeast and found that the instant yeast should be incorporated earlier.
From the little I do know about him, I think one of the reasons he's so respected is because he was constantly improving and updating based on his experimentation and findings.  I believe the instant yeast addition was an addition based on his own findings.  I think it would be accurate to say, "Traditionally autolyse is just flour and water, but if using instant yeast, it should also be incorporated in the process."
-Mark

Eli's picture
Eli

That would definetly make sense. I know I didn't realize it has been some time since he made the assertion and how things have progressed.


Thanks again,


Eli