The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Autolyse help please...

BettyR's picture

Autolyse help please...

I have seen this term and didn't know what it was so I did a little googling on the subject. From what I've read it's a rest period for the flour to soak up the liquids better...but all the information I've seen says to do this before the rest of the ingredients are added.


"Autolyse is an optional dough process, it refers to a particular period of rest after the initial mixing of flour and water, a rest period that occurs sequentially before the addition of yeast and other ingredients.[5] This rest period allows for better absorption of water and helps the gluten and starches to align. Breads made with autolysed dough are easier to form into shapes and have more volume and improved structure."         




Why can't I just put everything together mix it well and then let it rest for 20 minutes then continue with my kneading?

berryblondeboys's picture

It allows the doughs to work without getting the yeasts started. Even my breadmaker does this... not that I ever have.

mrfrost's picture

You can. Usually just a matter of preference.

I mix everything but the usually hold back the salt(slows the yeast, supposedly). I usually keep my yeast towards a minimal amount, so I don't mind if they get a jump on things.

Nickisafoodie's picture

While the yeast may start to grow, I found no material difference by adding or waiting.  Using SAF yeast, my loaves will be just under double 45-50 min after kneading and after a 30 min rest/autolyse. 

When I use sourdough culture instead of yeast (which is essentially the same having built it up from the day before) my rise time is about 90 minutes after the 30 min autolyse - thus the yeast are working during the autolyse period same as if you added your yeast.

That said, longer fermentation times develop more flavor, so if you are not pressed for time, waiting to add the yeast can't hurt.

BettyR's picture

That helps me a lot. My guys are really spoiled and want their homemade bread. If I have to buy bread at the store they act like I'm trying to feed them poison or something. I like making my dough in my bread machine and then baking it in the oven. My bread machine has a feature on it that if it looses power after it has been programmed when the power is restored it will pick up where it left off. So if I can just mix all my ingredients in the machine as usual, then after it has mixed the ingredients I can just unplug it then come back 20 to 30 minutes later and plug it back in and I'll be good to go.


I really appreciate the help.

sphealey's picture

=== My bread machine has a feature on it that if it looses power after it has been programmed when the power is restored it will pick up where it left off. So if I can just mix all my ingredients in the machine as usual, then after it has mixed the ingredients I can just unplug it then come back 20 to 30 minutes later and plug it back in and I'll be good to go. ===

That's what I do with my bread machine doughs when I have time.  Works fine, and you can really see the change in the dough after the 20 minutes rest.


Crumbly Baker's picture
Crumbly Baker

I find it odd that we talk, myself included, about times for proofing or times for yeast to work etc as if they were fixed, whereas in reality, these times vary according to other variables - the time of year, the local weather, quantities etc.

I think I recognise that what I am aiming for in all my bread baking is consistency of results.

Now that's a darn hard thing to get!

BettyR's picture

That's good to know.:)


Hi Daisy...

I'm guessing your talking about the no knead bread. That seems to be a really popular recipe. In fact I've just purchased a new larger Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven just for cooking my no knead breads. I have a soft whole wheat bread recipe that I make of sandwiches and toast. Then there's the no knead bread that my guys like to eat with their supper. They go through a whole loaf of the no knead at suppertime and usually fight over the last piece and who ate the most of it and who should get that last piece. I was thinking I should make a larger loaf and hopefully shut them up.

mrfrost's picture

Which recipe do you use?  I know there are many popular versions out there, but the couple that I tried were just not that impressive(to me).


BettyR's picture

They call this a sour dough but of course it’s not…but it’s a really good recipe. It's much easier to work with than the Jim Lahey version and I just use tap water. If you check the re-runs of Good Eats the episode is called Going Dutch. It aired in 2008 but I see it on the schedule fairly often.


My guys love it, I stir together a loaf of it and leave it on the counter right before I head off to bed almost every night. Of course you have to remember that we are talking about 4 guys who work at very physical jobs and by the time they get home they would eat the North end out of South bound mule.


The picture is one of the loaves made with the Jim Lahey recipe...the Alton Brown recipe always looks better but I haven't gotten around to taking a picture of it yet.


Knead Not Sourdough by Alton Brown Ingredients
  • 17 1/2 ounces bread flour, plus extra for shaping
  • 1/4 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 12 ounces filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal

Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 19 hours.


After 19 hours, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough and turn it over onto itself a couple of times. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, shape dough into a ball. Coat hands with flour if needed to prevent sticking. Sprinkle the tea towel with half of the cornmeal and lay the dough on top of it, with the seam side down. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the other half of the cornmeal and cover with the towel. Allow to rise for another 2 to 3 hours or until dough has doubled in size.


While the dough is rising the second time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven in the oven while it preheats. Once the dough is ready, carefully transfer it to the preheated Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 210 to 212 degrees F. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.



mrfrost's picture

Since you made it a "light, wheat", I'm guessing you used 30 - 40 % whole wheat four?

Big Alton Brown fan myself. And most all, except the newest episodes of GE are on youtube. I've seen that one before but didn't think to try it. Matter of timing, I guess. I'll check it out.

For those interested. The bread recipe is in the 2nd half link:

Thanks, again.

BettyR's picture

is a different recipe. I use the light wheat for a sandwhich bread. The no knead bread is just all purpose flour.

LindyD's picture

Professor Raymond Calvel developed the autolyse technique.  Calvel is the French baking expert who rescued the French from the bland, tasteless bread French bakers were making in the 70s and 80s via the intensive mix.

The flour and water are gently mixed and allowed to rest for 20 minutes to an hour.  This allows the flour to fully hydrate and the gluten bonds to develop and organize on their own.  The salt, yeast, and any preferments are then added and mixed (at second speed if using a mixer).  Dough that has undergone an autolyse requires less mixing time - and less mixing time equals less oxidation and more extensibility, and that can equal a more open crumb, better volume, and of course, better flavor.

Salt is not included because it tightens the gluten that the autolyse is trying to develop.  Yeast is not included because it would start the fermentation process and add acidity, which makes the dough stronger, which is not desired during the autolyse stage.  Ditto for preferments*.

(*Per Hamelman and DiMuzio.  Hamelman notes that if using a poolish or liquid levain, they can be included in the autolyse)

If you have Hamelman's Bread, autolyse is discussed at page 9.  DiMuzio discusses it at pages 48-49 in Bread Baking.

Not all recipes require an autolyse, but when they do, I think it's best to follow the instructions.  While the flour and water are doing their thing, you'll have 20 to 60 minutes to do something else.

foodslut's picture

I've gotten into the habit of autolysing my dough (usually ~70% hydration) ~25 minutes before kneading it by hand. I can CLEARLY notice the difference in how much easier and faster the dough gets to how I like it.  Also, I've found no difference in autolysing with or without the salt - either way, much faster to knead to "ready to proof" stage.

nicodvb's picture

If I remember correctly autolysing is particularly beneficial to soften doughs made with too tenacious flours, thanks to the action of protease (that salt would inhibit). Ever tried to spread an extremely elastic dough? It's not nice.


I find it very useful when I have to prepare doughs with a very high hydratation or when there are eggs involved.