The Fresh Loaf

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A simple Autolyse technique that works with any low hydration doughs.

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

A simple Autolyse technique that works with any low hydration doughs.

My "the Rat method". 

Put your dough together like you normally would.

Let it rest for five minutes.

Knead for a minute or two.

Let it rest for five minutes 

Repeat this three or four more times. Till you get window pain.

Your first rise will take less time so watch your dough.

Cut in half if needed. Pan and raise again. Still watching your dough. May take less time.

Bake and be happy! 

Yes this takes a bit more time than a traditional method. Does not matter what enhancements your bread has. Fat, milk, eggs it all works. I haven't tried this with a poolish or biga. Will do a poolish next weekend.  I cant foresee any problems using "The Rat Method" with a poolish. 

What I was doing with the autolyse method was a real pain. This is very easy. And best of all very easy on the wrists. I have four nice looking loaves of bread right now. And I gave it a catchy name too. : ) 

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

I tried it again tonight. Not a well aged poolish but poolish none the less. About three hours of aging. Again great results. I knead the dough long enough to incorporate more flour into it the first time. Then dust the ball with flour, cover and let it sit for five minutes. The second time it may still be sticky. Of the three times I've done this it's been slightly sticky twice. Kneading the dough after this helps move things around. By the fourth time I had a good window pain. Bread only took 20 minutes to do the proof rise. Then around 30+ to rise above the pans. Nice oven spring too. 

Now I'm going to have to try this with other recipes. I want to make sure this will work with all of the stiffer doughs. Any recipe with any starter. All the ease of an autolyse with any bread recipe. That's what I'm hoping for. The only bread I wont make is sourdough. Never been a fan. 

The Rat Method is as good a name as any. It's a bit irreverent. Pokes fun at the seriousness of bread making. Truth is people have been making and enjoying bread for thousands of years. It's as human nature as drinking water.  A little fun with all of this isn't a bad idea. I will never reach the level of perfection most of you are striving for. But I don't need to. All I need is bread I can make sandwiches with for the week. Or enjoy with a good meal. 

I think The Rat Method will really help those who have arthritis. Or suffer from tendon and joint damage like I do. I have a bad wrist. Kneading a few batches of dough can get rough. With this three or four batches will be a breeze!  

bread1965's picture

Ok.. couldn't resit.. but how about showing us the pictures? Not sure what rat ears look like, but if you score like you bake.. then wow! :)  Come on.. let's see! :) just kidding..

And you're right about taking this seriously.. but I think it's more about wanting to learn to do something really well. I think it's ingrained in some of us.. it's more about the journey than the final bread.. and the satisfaction that comes from both learning and doing along the way... life can be a grind, we can escape it with a bit of water and flour and the process helps us for a short time each week to inspire ourselves to find joy in true simplicity.. just my two cents.. but seriously, pictures please!


Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

Bread making is both satisfying and rewarding. Even if your just making simple, everyday bread. I'll have to take pictures of the loaves I make this weekend. The ones I freeze get all crinkly on top. When fresh they look like any other out of the pan daily bread. Really nothing special to see. 

I'll be trying my Rat, or 'Reworked Autolyse Technique' this weekend again. Both with and without a poolish starter. Pay more attention to what's happening and when to possibly tweak this technique. Admitting last week i was having way to much fun with the idea of finding something new. 

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

I've been using this over and over now for a few weeks. It's worked every time. So i thought of trying a worst case scenario. A bread made with way to much fat. Using only whole milk and adding butter. To make it even more challenging the dough was heavy on the dry side. 

What I ended up with is a mixture of good structure and pound cake. As seen in photo below. I've never made a bread with this much fat. So I have no idea what it's supposed to look like. 

My question is, Does high fat content create a smaller crumb? Or is this poor gluten formation?

The recipe I modified can be found here. I used two cups of whole milk, didn't add any powder milk.

Thanks again everyone for the help! 


rosealmeida's picture

I guess you did not let the dough make fermentation correctly. But for me, this bread looks perfect and must be delicious.

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Interferes with gluten and creates the crumb you see. A perfect crumb for an enriched dough. 

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

I was really hoping this was not due to low gluten. 

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

I know it's been a wile. Been using this technique now with success each time. Recently I hurt my back and could not knead dough. Not even for a few minutes. So decided to use my KitchenAid stand up mixer. And used the RAT. It worked. The biggest benefit is allowing the mixer to rest for five minutes between kneading. Run for about two minutes and rest for five.This kept the mixer from overworking and getting hot.